Under the Hood

Solving Puzzles Helpful For Your Mental Health While In Coronavirus Quarantine

People can feel the effects of COVID-19 even without catching the disease. As many parts of the world remain under lockdowns, the reduced social interactions have been negatively affecting people’s mental health.

The threats of the novel coronavirus combined with strict lockdown measures could cause high levels of stress. There have been reports of adults and children experiencing fear and anxiety about a disease.

But researchers found a simple way to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. Solving puzzles at home appeared helping distract people and feel more positive amid the pandemic. 

Puzzles require time and patience until you put the final piece. Such games help engage the brain and trigger a response that can help with mental health.

"When you think about puzzles from the neuroscience perspective and what is going on in the brain, puzzles pack a big punch," Nicole Calakos, a professor of neurology and neurobiology at Duke University, said as quoted by WRAL

One study at Drexel University in Philadelphia suggested that tough tasks or games prompt the brain to produce a reward signal. That occurs when an individual feels close to finishing the game or that "A-Ha" moment.

"If it was successful and it was a good outcome, dopamine gets sent out," Calakos, who was not involved in the study, said. "That’s a little bit like a pat on the back ‘good job.’ We all love that."

She added that puzzles, such as crosswords, Sudoku or those in the video game, require people the level of focus and attention that could lead to mindfulness. They could also help people feel a sense of control and routine.

"Right now, we are all struggling with being out of our routines and all of the other new worries and uncertainties," Calakos said. "So we have a lot of stress rattling around, and I think, at a very high level, puzzles are engaging us and giving us an escape from this."

Stress And COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said stress affects people differently amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some may experience changes in sleep or eating patterns, worse chronic health problems and worse mental health problems.

Age and certain health conditions also play a role in how COVID-19 causes stress or anxiety. CDC said children, teens, older adults, those who have chronic diseases and people with problems with substance use are more likely to feel the impacts of the pandemic on mental health. 

Frontliners, healthcare providers, first responders and other people who work in response to COVID-19 also have a high risk of feeling more stress.

Puzzles and mental health Researchers found that solving puzzles could help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and make people feel more positive amid the pandemic. Pixabay

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