Why Jigsaw Puzzles Are So Soothing And Addicting Right Now

Caroline Bologna
There are psychological reasons to explain the appeal of jigsaw puzzles amid the pandemic. 

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As people practice social distancing at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many have picked up new hobbies like tie-dyeing, baking banana bread and learning TikTok dances. Another increasingly popular pastime: doing jigsaw puzzles.

Puzzle manufacturers have reported soaring sales and even shortages. It turns out there are psychological reasons for the mania right now.

“Our primitive lizard brains are on overdrive in quarantine. We know on a cellular level that there is a threat to our survival, as both individual humans and a species, so we are stuck in a fight-flight-freeze cycle where our brains can’t figure out which one will keep us alive,” psychotherapist Jenny Maenpaa told HuffPost.


“We’re not sleeping well because we’re staying alert enough to jump out of bed if the threat comes close enough to us, which our brains can’t understand is an unhelpful and irrelevant biological response to a virus,” Maenpaa said. “When we don’t get enough restorative sleep, our reaction times are slower, our emotional self-regulation is poorer, and we have trouble performing high-level cognitive functions. Puzzles are a surprising antidote to all of those challenges.”

But why and how exactly do puzzles soothe us during difficult times? HuffPost spoke to Maenpaa and other experts to find out.

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