Studies have shown that Sudoku helps people with dementia and dancing helps people with Parkinson’s. Its not a far leap to understand that Jigsaw Puzzles help reduce your inflammatory response throughout your body. This parasympathetic inducing past-time is typically reserved for family vacations on a rainy day. But in truth, it shouldn’t be. Let’s talk about why.
We all have stress in our lives. What is this mysterious stress? What is the difference between mental stress and physical stress? The reality is there isn’t a difference. Mental stress is a form of physical stress. Why? Because it affects your nervous system directly. We all have an Autonomic Nervous System divided into two branches. One is called the “Sympathetic” and the other is called the “Parasympathetic.” Without going into too much detail, stress happens when we enter into our sympathetic nervous system. Stress isn’t bad. Its actually necessary to maintain a healthy body. Too much stress, especially for a prolonged period of time, is the problem.
We enter into our Sympathetic Nervous System when we feel threatened or when we have a need to mobilize and move quickly. The key here is when we “feel” threatened. There doesn’t have to be an actual threat present. Its all based on our perceptions. So, if we go into work tomorrow morning and feel like we are going to get fired, most of us would enter into our Sympathetic Nervous System. If we spend too much time in that system then our bodies start to break down faster than they can rejuvenate. When we finally get a break later on, our bodies attempt to repair all the damage via the immune system which creates inflammation. Like stress, inflammation is necessary to have a healthy body. Its too much inflammation that causes a problem.
Where do Jigsaw Puzzles come into play? The methodic, calm, slow, hypnotizing and focusing influence they have helps us transition from our Sympathetic Nervous System to our Parasympathetic Nervous System via the Vagus Nerve. It is in the Parasympathetic Nervous System that we digest, heal and find the experience of peace. Dwelling for long periods of time in our Parasympathetic Nervous System is absolutely necessary to our long-term health and happiness. There are many wonderful ways to guide your body into a parasympathetic state. Mind-engaging past-times like Jigsaw Puzzles are genuine healing tools.
~Victor Briere, A.D. The International Institute of Ayurveda