How to Take Your Mind Off Stressful Things With a Jigsaw

Stress and anxiety are debilitating diseases of the mind that can be hard but not impossible to control. There are a number of hobbies and activities that can really help you. Doing jigsaw puzzles is one of the best I find.

2020 is turning out to be one of the most stressful years ever with the pandemic Covid-19, the Coronavirus. Learn how to take your mind off stressful and negative things with a jigsaw puzzle.

Discover how I manage my own stress and anxiety levels by doing jigsaw puzzles which help to relax me immensely. They're helping to keep my mental health good during self-isolation and coronavirus quarantine.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide any kind of medical advice or to take the place of advice or treatment from a doctor or physician.

How to Take Your Mind Off Stressful Things With a Jigsaw Puzzle

How to Take Your Mind Off Stressful Things With a Jigsaw Puzzle jigsaw puzzles stress relief anxiety worry

Long before life became stressful with Covid-19, the Coronavirus, I was already learning how to reduce my own stress and anxiety levels by doing jigsaws.

I turned to jigsaw puzzles after the long-term illness and subsequent death of a close family member and found them to be really successful at easing stressful, negative and worrying thoughts.

It is possible to take your mind off stressful things using a hobby or activity. I believe the reason why jigsaw puzzles have been so successful for me is because they occupy both my hands and my mind at the same time.

There are other hobbies such as crafting which may also work well as diversion techniques from negative and stressful thoughts, but jigsaw puzzles are very easy to get into. You don't need much equipment, just a large flat surface and a jigsaw. And they are easy to learn how to do.

If you've never done a jigsaw puzzle before, or if you haven't done one for a long time, I suggest starting with a 500 piece puzzle which most adults can complete in a short amount of time. Generally this size is not too overwhelming to start with for most people.

Take Your Mind Off Stressful and Negative Thoughts

Winter garden birds jigsaw puzzle colourful image completed

A colourful and engaging scene can help to take my mind away from worrying thoughts as I relax into the design and lose my thoughts to solving the puzzle instead. Review here.

There's no doubt in my head that taking your mind off negative and stressful things that are worrying you do help to relieve stress. Taking your mind off things gives you a well-needed rest and mental break. But how exactly do you do it?

One fantastic way to take your mind off things is to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about being present, not worrying over things that have happened in the past nor worrying over things that might happen in the future. It's about focusing on the present.

One great way of encouraging ourselves to practice mindfulness and focusing thoughts on the present moment is to become fully engaged in an activity or hobby.

An activity that employs both your hands as well as your mind can be even more successful at taking your mind off troublesome thoughts and onto what you're doing instead.

Jigsaw puzzles are a perfect example of an activity that engages your hands and your mind at the same time.

Use Jigsaw Puzzles as a Distraction from Worry

It isn't always easy to make the shift from stressing about things to wanting to take up an activity such as a jigsaw.

Sometimes when we've been stuck in the same loop for a while, perhaps becoming increasingly anxious or even depressed by things, it can become very hard to make a change. We can get stuck in the same rut.

When I was in the worst period of grieving, I didn't want to do anything. I simply didn't care. The idea of doing a pleasurable activity was unwelcome. I was lost in misery.

But life does have a habit of moving on with or without you and I knew that I had to try to make a change, if not for myself at least for my family.

There came a point where I was looking for a distraction, something to override all the negative thoughts I was having. A distraction to quiet my thoughts and help to calm me.

During this difficult time, I was given a jigsaw puzzle. I'd never really done any since childhood, but thought I'd give it a go because it was picture of a beautiful country scene.

Even though I liked the picture on the box, I had to force myself a little to make a start on the jigsaw. I can't say I was perfectly in the mood as my mind was still in misery.

But little by little I found that the jigsaw was working to distract and quiet my thoughts. I now had something else to focus my attention on. My hands were being kept busy sorting through jigsaw pieces and my mind was pushed to the present by giving myself something constructive to focus on.

The great thing was, the more I worked on the jigsaw, the better I began to feel. Before long, I was hooked.

Buy or Borrow a Jigsaw Puzzle That Appeals to You

The corner bookstore jigsaw puzzle completed buffalo games colourful books theme

Choose jigsaw puzzles that spark joy for you. I like colourful designs and also have a thing for a book theme. This is one of my favourite book themed designs. Review here.

I think most of us know that retail therapy can make us feel better, if only for a short space of time.

Hunting for my next jigsaw puzzle to work on provides me with a lot of pleasure, especially now I'm well and truly addicted to doing them.

Buying or even borrowing a jigsaw puzzle can also help to take your mind off things, if only for a short time frame.

For me, it's all part of the jigsaw puzzling process.

Try not to be overambitious with your first choices of puzzles. I recommend most adults start with a 500 piece jigsaw before attempting the more readily available 1000 pieces which can be very overwhelming to a beginner.

Read up on how to begin a jigsaw puzzle which takes you right from choosing your first jigsaws and all my tips on how to get started. Because it is possible to pick designs which may be too challenging to start with if you don't know what you're looking for.

Busy Yourself Sorting the Edge Pieces

Even a simple activity such as removing all the edge pieces from the box and starting to put the edge together first, can help to focus your mind on the task at hand.

Your mind will actively hunt for that straight edge shape on each puzzle piece, and your hands will be occupied in sifting through the pieces.

I normally take a small handful of pieces from the box or bag, hunt through my hand to spot any edge pieces and lay those out on my board. I then put the leftover pieces into the box lid.

Hunting for the edge pieces is a repetitive and focused activity. It is not difficult but you do have to keep focused in order to find all the edge pieces. I normally miss at least a couple on my first pass because my mind occasionally wanders.

By sorting the edge pieces, you are taking a step to controlling your thoughts and taking your mind off stressful things.

And putting the edge together, making that initial frame for the jigsaw does hold a sense of accomplishment which can give you a bit of a feel-good factor once you've done it.

Build Small Islands and Link Them Up

Once the edge is complete, you can gradually work on the puzzle by building small islands of scenes that match the box lid design and then connecting each island together.

Doing the middle are of a jigsaw is basically picking out areas of the image that stand out to you perhaps by colour and/or pattern and then working on that area.

These areas don't have to join up with the edge initially. Think of it like creating little islands of design. Keep making islands and eventually you will join them up to the mainland.

If you're not sure how, I break down exactly how I do a 500 piece jigsaw with lots of tips and tricks to help.

Take Your Time and Relax into a Jigsaw Puzzle Hobby

Remember that there is no rush, there is no time limit and no pressure. It's not a competition, not even with yourself.

Simply have a go at doing a jigsaw puzzle and see if it helps to take your mind off all the stressful and worrying things going round and round in your head.

It helps if you give it a chance to work its magic. Since every small positive change can lead to even more positive benefits.

For me, it's been life-changing. Helping to manage my grief, stress and anxiety and calming my thoughts. I would not be without my daily jigsaw puzzle fix now. It's become an essential activity.

I hope you feel the same benefits that I have and wish you well in taking your mind off things.

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Articles are accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in medical, business, financial, legal, or technical matters. All images on this site are my own or are product and public domain photos that are used with permission.