Ever needed something to alleviate your stress levels by way of keeping your mind focused? This may sound rather surprising, but puzzle games may be just what you have been looking for all along.
However, before getting to know more about the role of puzzle games in combating stress, it is imperative to discover the cornucopia of puzzle games that are available to us. While the history of puzzle games can be traced back to as far as the late 16th century AD, the ones that we have today come in such a wide range that they can be categorised into several groups:
- Mechanical puzzles (Rubik’s cube, Tower of Hanoi, Rush Hour)
- Tiling puzzles (jigsaws, the tangram, Pentominoes)
- Logic puzzles (Sudoku, nonograms, various other paper-and-pencil games)
- Word puzzles (the crossword, Boggle, Hangman)
Given the beguiling choices of puzzle games that are abound at our fingertips, it is perhaps right that the popularity of these games lies in their hidden ability to instill a sense of tranquility among their players, especially when times are rough and any kind of respite is much in need.
To begin with, it has been posited by Neurobic that individual stress levels can plummet significantly with the help of crossword puzzles and Sudoku, otherwise categorised as “thinking games”.
Specifically, crossword puzzles compel players to momentarily put aside their problems and woes by grabbing their full attention in figuring out words with letters that fill in all the white boxes and subsequently match with letters from adjoining answers.
This gives their minds a break of sorts from the drudgery of everyday life. Maybe it is now time for us to stop treating all those crossword puzzles and Sudoku games in our daily papers or favourite magazines like careless afterthoughts and actually give them a try.
Similarly, it has been claimed that jigsaw puzzles are capable of functioning as an apparatus to stimulate personal reflection and subsequently allow the mind to be filled with a sense of serenity.
According to the Social Psychiatry Blog, this happens when we spend a long stretch of time concentrating on a single image, namely the image featured on the jigsaw puzzle that we intend to solve. By doing so, our mind has to temporarily put aside whatever may be troubling us.
Our full attention is now fixed on solving the puzzle, leaving our worries, fears and even our surroundings from penetrating our psyches. So, are you keen on buying yourself a jigsaw puzzle for some much-needed stress relief now?
More About Puzzle Games
Moving on, similar results have also been observed through mechanical puzzles, such as the Rubik’s cube. It has been suggested that solving the Rubik’s cube can help reduce our stress levels simply because, at the end of the day – or to put it more aptly, at the end of the game – it is, after all, just a cube.
What I am trying to convey here is that players who engage themselves in the complexities of the Rubik’s cube eventually come to realise that life’s daily strife and challenges are in fact a lot less difficult to solve than the Rubik’s cube itself.
In fact, programmer and puzzle designer Joe Cassavaugh has postulated on Quora that solving a mechanical puzzle like the Rubik’s cube can inculcate within players the virtues of patience and perseverance, which in my own personal view, goes a long way in alleviating stress levels.
When all is said and done, one can come to the conclusion that there is a lot to discover about puzzle games, notably their unsung role in stress relief, simply by playing them.