You might think of a crossword puzzle as a fun way to pass the time on a lazy Sunday. They’re inexpensive (or even free with your newspaper), require only a pen and your brain, and can be played wherever you happen to be. You might be surprised, however, to learn that researchers have discovered that regularly solving crossword puzzles can improve your life in a variety of ways. So play away! And if anyone tells you not to spend so much time playing games, let them know about the benefits of crossword puzzles.
Benefits of Crossword Puzzles
They can strengthen social bonds.
Completing a crossword puzzle on your own is impressive, but you should never feel bad if you need to ask for help. In fact, collaborating on a crossword puzzle is a great way to strengthen your relationships and make new friends. Plus, because crossword puzzles call on a wide variety of knowledge, people of many different ages and backgrounds can help with them. So the next time you’re struggling with a clue, don’t be afraid to ask the person next to you for help.
They improve your vocabulary.
Crossword puzzle clues and answers often include uncommon words to make the puzzle more difficult. If you aren’t familiar with a word, look it up using the internet or a dictionary. Over time, you’ll develop an arsenal of interesting new words.
They increase your knowledge base.
You won’t just learn new words when you complete crossword puzzles regularly; you’ll also learn new things in general, especially if you work with other people to solve difficult puzzles. Most crossword puzzles contain a wide variety of trivia. You could learn new things about history, entertainment, science, technology, politics, and much more.
They can relieve stress.
Our daily lives are filled with stresses: medical challenges, the deaths of loved ones, financial issues, social troubles, general changes in our lifestyles, etc. Crossword puzzles provide a way for you to turn off the noise in your head and truly relax. By focusing on the clues and concentrating on the puzzle at hand, you can relax and enjoy a little break away from “the real world.” Studies have shown that crossword puzzles can help us feel calmer and happier. Speaking of which . . .
They boost your mood.
The process of completing a crossword puzzle can sometimes be tricky. You might feel frustrated or foolish when you can’t figure out a clue, but if you keep working toward your goal (and perhaps collaborating with other people), you’ll figure out those difficult hints. After several ups and downs as you struggle with clues and then succeed in solving them, you’ll complete the puzzle and feel a great sense of satisfaction. This should cause your brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes people feel blissful (source). You’ll get a wonderful sensation of peace and pride.
If you don’t enjoy crossword puzzles, you could try a similar brain-challenging game, like Sodoku or KenKen. Although they won’t produce the benefits of crossword puzzles, they share some advantages and can test your brain in new ways.
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