Could doing crossword puzzles be good for your physical, emotional, and mental health? If it sounds like a tall order, I am here to tell you that it’s anything but! Crossword puzzles have proven to be a source of great reward for me – on all levels: body, mind, and emotional wellbeing. But how, you ask? I am about to tell you!
While doing research into the benefits of crossword puzzles for the human body and mind, I found plenty of research that points towards brain teasers, generally, improving the brain’s function and memory capacity. I also found that it plays a role in helping ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. There seems to be far more to the benefits of crossword puzzles and other brain teasers than immediately meets the eye.
Crossword puzzles are also thought to help develop strong bonds (if done in a group setting), relieve stress, as well as provide a sense of accomplishment. Whether you are young or old, crossword puzzles can be more than just a boredom buster. They can add value to your life. So, if you want to provide your body, mind, and emotional wellbeing with the best possible boost, introducing crossword puzzles to your life is a great start.
Do you want to find out how doing crossword puzzles can benefit you physically and mentally? Read on.
These are 15 ways crossword puzzles affect your mind and body. Doing crossword puzzles:
1. Reduces the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain.
The University of California did an interesting research study on how doing crossword puzzles affects the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. They confirmed that brain plaques called Beta-amyloid (toxic proteins) build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. While doing crossword puzzles cannot cure Alzheimer’s or remove the plaques, it can reduce the build-up somewhat. People with Alzheimer’s who regularly engaged in a challenging crossword puzzle seemed to have less Beta-amyloid build-up.
2. Enhances problem-solving skills.
Crossword puzzles require you to solve a specific problem/clue to get to the answer. You will notice how someone who does crosswords regularly seems able to complete them quicker than someone who has never really had to engage their brain’s problem-solving skills. The more crosswords you do, the better your problem-solving skills should become.
3. Engages the mind deeply, thus relieving stress.
Most people think that relieving stress needs to involve a trip to the spa and a day off work, which can be costly and inconvenient. As a result, many people simply ignore their stress levels and keep pressing on. Crossword puzzles provide an understated stress relief that’s convenient and affordable (it won’t cost you a thing!).
How do crosswords relieve physical stress build-up? The type of thinking required engages the mind deeply, and while doing so, it provides a healthy distraction from the troubles and stresses of life. Just that relief, whether it is for 30 minutes or several hours, is just what the body and brain need to provide stress relief.
4. Provides a sense of accomplishment.
Achieving goals and accomplishments are what keeps the human race moving forward on a positive note. Humans need to feel as if they are achieving something, which can be hard, especially if you are part of the called “rat race”. Taking some time out to complete a crossword will provide a sense of accomplishment and pleasure while giving you the much-needed time for self-care.
5. Improves your ability to think strategically and manage disputes.
In order for disputes to be effectively managed and solved, you need to be able to think strategically. Strategic thinking requires high thinking speed and the ability to convey thoughts/ideas quickly and clearly. Solving crossword puzzles focuses on strategic and quick thinking, which can be extremely helpful in the area of managing disputes.
6. Strengthens social bonds (when done as a group).
Sitting on the couch, watching a movie with someone provides far less bonding opportunities than completing a crossword puzzle together. When a crossword puzzle is done as a group or with a partner (even a friend or family member), it provides the opportunity to work together (team build) and appreciate each other’s mental abilities. It can also be quite a laugh, which is undoubtedly essential when it comes to relationship building.
7. Improves general knowledge.
Are you a Cruciverbalist? I got you there, didn’t I? If you regularly do crossword puzzles, you might know what that is! A Cruciverbalist is a person who is skilled at creating and solving crosswords. How does someone get “good” at it? I’d say, the more crossword puzzles you complete, the closer you get to being Cruciverbalist, as it increases your general knowledge.
Of course, you will always know some of the answers to the clues, but you will undoubtedly learn something new with each and every new crossword, which is great for expanding your general knowledge.
8. Develops deep (critical) thinking skills.
Have you ever found that you skim through the general thought process? Some would call this carelessness. If you want to have a more mindful approach to thinking through situations, problems, or life scenarios, starting to do crossword puzzles might help. The type of critical thinking required will help you to access deeper parts of your brain. And that’s where the deep thinking “magic” happens!
9. Boosts productivity and performance.
Everyone wants better performance and higher productivity, but how do you achieve it? Some say that a brain/mind that is free from stress and anxiety is able to think more creatively and strategically, thus promoting both performance and productivity.
To be able to think more creatively and to improve both analytical and cognitive skills, you need to keep the brain working. Doing crossword puzzles can be great for that. A brain that is consistently working has activated brain cells, and that’s the key to better productivity and enhanced performance.
10. Releases dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
If you have been looking for a way to get a healthy dose of those happy hormones flowing through your veins, crossword puzzles are the way to do it. You probably thought that the only way was through exercise and eating chocolate, but you are wrong!
While you are solving a crossword puzzle, dopamine levels start to rise in production in the brain as a result of a sense of achievement (almost like a brain excitement). The human brain actually loves to solve a problem. It’s always looking for ideas and solutions. Once the crossword puzzle is solved, you will get a nice flood of dopamine and serotonin, which leaves you happy and smiling.
11. Relieves symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety causes the body to feel stressed and nervous, which in turn increases the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Over the long term, this state of mind (and body) can result in the brain being affected. This state can result in the brain losing the ability to memorize and recall information and can leave the body feeling shaky and panicked.
According to an article from the New York times, people who suffer from anxiety can relieve their symptoms by adding regular crosswords to their daily activities. Just sitting down, relaxing, and thinking of something else (the crossword clues) can provide the perfect distraction the brain and body need to reach a state of comfortable calm.
12. Makes your brain fit (exercise for the brain).
Most humans spend a lot of time working on their physical fitness. We go to the gym and we watch what we eat – all in the name of physical fitness, but what about the brain? The brain is a part of the body that also needs a workout. If you don’t exercise it, it’s going to have the same outcome as the rest of the body. Crossword puzzles are like gym exercises for the brain.
13. Can lead to professional success.
Nothing feels better than climbing the professional ladder. By doing regular crosswords, you can expect to have a developed vocabulary, excellent spelling skills, and a healthy amount of general knowledge. All of these things are great for boosting professional success.
14. Fights the symptoms of depression.
Depression is a disease that affects that brain and causes the release of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Over prolonged periods of time, depression can cause a person to lose memory ability, learning, ability, and the ability to perform. Kicking depression is difficult, and while there is medication that helps ease the symptoms, many sufferers are required to make positive life adjustments to help with the process.
It is thought that depressive people who do activities like crossword puzzles on a regular basis feel a reduction in their symptoms of hopelessness or listlessness. This could have something to do with a sense of achievement.
15. Improves feelings of self-worth.
If you are too busy to do anything but work, eat and sleep, chances are that your self-worth is going to take a knock. It is hard for the average working person to find time to boost self-worth through self-care. It has been found that by solving crossword puzzles, people suffering from self-worth problems start to feel better. Again, it’s got a lot to do with having a purpose, getting something done, reaching a goal – it’s essential to human mental health.
Do Crosswords to Improve Your Wellbeing
The human body is interesting in that it needs stimulation – mentally, physically, and emotionally – in order to flourish and thrive. And because you are a human, you don’t get to escape these human requirements. I firmly stand by my belief that crossword puzzles add real value to life. If you are looking for a way to boost your physical and mental health and start to feel even better about yourself, add crossword puzzles to your to-do list.