For many people, solving a crossword puzzle is an entertaining way to pass the time. For others, overcoming the mental challenge is an achievement. Whichever way you look at it, doing crossword puzzles is beneficial for your mental health and agility.
When you work on a crossword puzzle, you are stimulating your brain’s frontal lobe. This is the area responsible for language, communications, and making decisions. You may be surprised to know that puzzling can help your brain improve skills that you use in everyday life, such as focusing your concentration, processing information, and finding creative solutions to problems. And that’s not all, here are many other benefits of crossword puzzles.
1. Work Out Your Brain
If you don’t give your brain a regular workout, it will begin to get lazy. You’ll notice that your responses are slower, and you may begin to struggle to find the words you need to express yourself. Doing crossword puzzles on a regular basis will stir up your brain cells, help you think quicker, and sharpen your wits.
Experts agree that doing a crossword puzzle every day can slow down cognitive decline, particularly in people who are already experiencing the type of memory issues that frequently lead to dementia. They do so by boosting your cognitive reserve. You develop a cognitive reserve over your lifetime as you learn new mental abilities and draw on your available brain resources. Crossword puzzles can help you build up your cognitive reserve by strengthening your neural networks through cognitive stimulation.
2. Increase Your Word Power
If you want to increase your repertoire of vocabulary, doing crossword puzzles will certainly help. You won’t have to do many puzzles before you find yourself picking up the meaning of a new word. This not only makes you smarter, but it also increases your ability to express yourself most eruditely.
The more you look at the words in a crossword puzzle grid, the more they imprint on your brain. This helps you remember how to spell them when you come to use them in the future. Bear in mind that crosswords are not just for adults. Simple, mini crossword puzzles can help children learn to spell and increase their vocabulary.
3. Kill Stress and Boost Your Mood
Everyone recognizes the familiar signs of stress; racing thoughts, headache, irritability, and disturbed sleep patterns. Believe it or not, doing crossword puzzles can help you reduce stress. When you are concentrating on solving a puzzle, your mind is distracted from your daily worries. What’s more, your breathing tends to become slower and deeper. This, in turn, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which decreases your heart rate and lowers your overall blood pressure.
When you get that feeling of satisfaction from accomplishing something, dopamine is released in your brain. Dopamine is a hormone that elevates your mood and makes you feel happy. If you’re not having a good day and you’re feeling down, spend a little time solving a crossword puzzle to improve your mood.
4. Increase your Thinking Skills and Creativity
You might not be solving a murder case but completing a crossword does require a lot of thinking and problem-solving. Not only do word puzzles boost your analytical skills, but they also increase your ability to sort and assess different problems and their possible solutions. This will make you more able to overcome the challenges that life throws at you.
If you think that solving crossword clues only involves your analytical faculties, you are mistaken. When you’re struggling with hard-to-decipher clues, your brain is forced to think outside the box, this involves using your creativity and imagination. This can also help you be more creative in other, day-to-day aspects of your life.
5. Improve Your Memory With Active Learning
Forgetting things can be at best frustrating and at worst dangerous. It can happen whatever your age. If you want to have a memory like an elephant, crossword puzzles can help get you there. Doing crossword puzzles on a regular basis helps your brain retain and recall facts. Puzzling is also better than computer games at slowing memory loss.
Active learning is any kind of educational practice that involves a hands-on, interactive approach. It tends to have more benefits than other passive learning because you are actively engaged in a task.
6. Boost Your Reasoning, Performance, and Productivity
When you come across a puzzle clue that’s difficult to wrap your head around, you have to look at it from different angles and reason your way through it. The more you practice your reasoning skills, the quicker they will advance.
Who doesn’t want higher performance and productivity? The problem is how to achieve it. Crosswords can help boost both because they lower stress and increase focus, allowing you to think more strategically and creatively. When your brain cells are active, both productivity and performance are enhanced. Crosswords are a great way to keep your brain ticking over.
7. Strengthen Social Bonds
Although you may enjoy a little solitary time with a crossword puzzle, they don’t have to be solved alone. Sharing with a puzzling partner can make crosswords even more fun. You can participate in a group or with another puzzle fanatic using online apps. You might even make some new friends while appreciating each other’s mental prowess.
One of the often underrated benefits of crossword puzzles is that they are doable anywhere, especially with the NY Times Crossword Puzzle apps. Whether you’re taking a long flight, traveling to work on the train, relaxing on a lunch break, or simply killing time crosswords are doable anywhere. This makes them even easier to share with friends and family.
Working on a crossword puzzle is a fun way to pass the time, alleviate stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your brain power. Additionally, it’s more beneficial than watching television or scrolling through your social media. If you feel like you could do with a mental workout, check out the daily crossword challenges at the New York Times.