As I mentioned in my previous post, throughout the pandemic I’ve been fortunate enough to work from home and shelter-in-place with my parents, both of which I’m so grateful for and am aware are an immense privilege. Despite this, however, there have definitely been moments throughout the pandemic when I’ve struggled with my mental health. Stress can understandably exacerbate my anxiety and OCD and some days have proven much harder than others.
When it quickly became clear that the length of our self-isolation would be considerable, my mom and I started discussing how we could keep busy and occupy ourselves during the many months spent at home, especially with a cold, dark winter ahead. We picked up one or two puzzles at the beginning of the year, and this has since become an obsession. Given that many of the popular puzzle companies are perpetually sold-out, I think it’s safe to say we’re not the only people who have picked up the hobby this year!
As silly as it might sound, I was genuinely surprised when I realized what a positive impact puzzles have had on my mental and emotional health this year. Putting something back together can be a soothing and rewarding process and provides a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Puzzles have also allowed me to spend more time with my mom, to think critically and to focus my energy and attention elsewhere when I might be struggling.
That said, not all puzzles are created equal. After completing at least 40+ in 2020, I’ve found there are certain things to take note of. How much dust is in the package (and will inevitably be all over your table and floor once you spread out the pieces)? Is there a poster in the box that will allow you to see the overall image in greater detail or will you be left squinting in vain at the picture on the box? How thick (or thin and therefore impossible to pick up) are the pieces? Are they cut into interesting shapes? Do they click together well? I bet you didn’t know there were so many things to consider when purchasing a simple puzzle!
I’m joking! Mostly. I promise it’s not really that serious or stressful. If you see a puzzle that interests you, buy it! If you’re new to the hobby and looking for some guidance, below I’ve assembled eight of my favourite puzzle brands/manufacturers that have helped make my life a little bit brighter this year. I sincerely hope they can do the same for you. Oh, and if you’re interested, you can follow along with my puzzle journey on Twitter, where I’ve started documenting the puzzles I complete and my quick thoughts on them!
Pictured: Cat Zodiac (500 pieces)
Pictured: Maps (500 pieces)
Pictured: Cacti & Succulents (1,000 pieces)
Pictured: The Sewing Shed (1,000 pieces)
Pictured: Nancy Drew Book Covers (1,000 pieces)
Pictured: Alice in Wonderland (750 pieces)
Pictured: Flashbacks – Mom’s Pantry (1,000 pieces)
Pictured: The Cats of Charles Wysocki: Frederick The Literate (750 pieces)