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Science Explains Why Crossword Puzzles Are Good For Your Mental Health

Science Explains Why Crossword Puzzles Are Good For Your Mental Health

Have you seen the movie The Imitation Game, based on Alan Turing? If you have, I am sure you noticed how at one point Turing, when he needed to hire people to work under him, used a difficult crossword puzzle in a newspaper to test potential applicants.

Crossword puzzles can be a great way to pass the time. If you’re one of those people who just loves to solve crossword puzzles, you’ll be glad to learn that science has explained why this specific kind of puzzle is good for your brain.

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Plenty of researchers have discovered the positive effects that crossword puzzles can have on one’s brain if played regularly. Regularly doesn’t necessarily mean every day — once a week is fine. Among these researchers is Ann Lukits, who wrote “Puzzles Boost Verbal Skills, Cut Dementia Risk” for the Wall Street Journal. She firmly believes that solving crosswords on a regular basis can “improve memory and brain function in older adults.” Such activities can also “improve mental functions in patients with brain damage or early dementia.”

Solving crossword puzzles alone is beneficial, but working in a group adds a bigger advantage to one’s brain function. One important factor of collaborative cruciverbalism is the ability to think creatively in a more strategic fashion. The other factors are fairly easy to capture. Involving yourself in such a brain-consuming activity helps you vastly by improving your verbal skills, making you solve problems, and causing you to think deeply.

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Here are some other reasons that show why crossword puzzles are good for your mental health.

They alleviate/avoid Alzheimer’s.

This is one of the most-discussed reasons for doing crossword puzzles. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a daily dose of crossword puzzles is a significant way to keep the brain active and sharp, especially as you grow older.

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They trigger bonding if solved in a group.

I mentioned collaborative cruciverbalism above. In plain words, it means working together in a group. The group may consist of cooperative couples, a band of brothers, a society of sisters, or a flock of friends. According to Lukits, working in a group will “improve the speed of thinking and talking.” Solving puzzles in a group can also strengthen social bonds.

They teach new words.

This is a great way to increase your vocabulary. Through crosswords, you are learning new words constantly. If you don’t know the meaning of a new word, you can always check the dictionary and add it to your vocabulary.

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They engage you deeply.

When you are solving crossword puzzles, you tend to dig deeper into the problem at hand. This means you are less focussed on your own problems. It’s a great way to relax and forget your worries for a little while.

They help you deal with your problems in life.

Crossword puzzles are never quite easy to solve, despite playing the easiest level available. You have to rack your brain in order to solve one. This racking of your brain can actually help you to deal with your regular troubles in life and help you to solve problems, since you are practicing thinking clearly. If you can understand the pattern of a puzzle, you can easily understand the patterns of life!

They offer a fun way to overcome boredom!

If you are lonely, depressed, anxious, or bored, just open your newspaper and solve a crossword puzzle. This will help you to relax, keep your mind engaged, and just have fun! If you are not a puzzle person, you don’t have to be. Just give crossword puzzles a try and you’ll be hooked in no time!

Featured photo credit: Luca Sartoni via flickr.com

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Sumaiya Kabir

Sumaiya is a passionate writer who shares thoughts and ideas to help people improve themselves.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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