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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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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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