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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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