Saturday, May 21, 2022

How A Jigsaw Puzzle Can Bond Family

Everyone who knows me also knows that I am the old-fashioned type. This applies to my food, my dress style, my friendships and even hobbies I enjoy.


With the lockdown as a part of our lives for almost eighteen months now, the Up side is; it has given us all an opportunity to enjoy isolation beyond TV shows and wine. Rediscovering the things you really enjoyed once upon a time, and moving away from a robotic, structured life. 

My rediscovery has been an all time favourite; solving jigsaw puzzles.

There is a wide range of jigsaw puzzles available online for all age groups, with the most amazing subjects ranging from picturesque nature, to wonders of the world or important monuments. I even came across one, which was the center spread of the daily newspaper.


A couple of months ago, I had my children visiting, since friends were not a priority due to lockdown, we got to spend a lot of time together, often running out of conversation and watching episodes on Netflix. I put on my thinking cap to find ways where the four of us could engage in fun activities and VOILA! The jigsaw puzzle made a comeback into my life.


A 1000 piece puzzle can keep you engaged for any time between two to three hours at a stretch to a week.

The world record for a 1000 piece puzzle is a fraction over an hour, done by two persons. 

You can take the pressure off and go at your own pace, but as you advance, its  nice to get competitive and up your game with a timer in place. Start out with a 500-700-piece puzzle and then increase to challenge yourself. 

Interestingly, there are two types of jigsaw puzzles, one which has a picture of the subject on hand and you match the pieces to form the picture and the other is the WASGIJ (jigsaw spelt in the reverse) “don’t puzzle what you see, puzzle the future” is the message on the box. There is no picture given, you put pieces together in clusters and only towards the end do you see the subject of the puzzle, you could have worked on it upside down all along, that is what makes it WASGIJ.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind while tackling a jigsaw puzzle —


  • John Waddingtons puzzles of ‘The Wonders of the World’ are exceptional; it would be a nice series to start with.
  •  Get a table that measures a bit larger than the size of the puzzle, you will not be able to transfer the puzzle from table to table.
  • Spread all the pieces face up on a counter or another table, the box cover works well too.
  • You could go a step further by segregating all the pieces into sections. The straight edged pieces that would make up the frame of the picture, similar colour pieces that would fit different pockets fillings of the picture etc; once this is sorted, you are ready. Preparation is vital and could take as long as half an hour to get ready. 
  • It is advisable to start with creating the framework (though this is not in cement) it works better than just joining pieces at random and then attempting to fit it together. At the end of the day, it is what works for you.
  • If boredom strikes, remember — starting a new puzzle before finishing the one on hand is a complete NO-NO.
  • Time is very often not the factor when it is group effort, it’s more the enjoyment of the time spent together. Putting the pieces together could be a daily hour of bonding over jigsaws or a lazy weekend afternoon to complete the jigsaw in one go. 
  • The most difficult subjects are when you have a landscape say of different shades of green, it’s a brute, but once you are done you will give yourself some cheer and cheers too.


Some more tips to keep the enjoyment going —

  • Don’t get so engrossed, that you forget the mindless chatter in between. That’s the fun of it all.
  • Don’t forget team effort; keep peeking into everyone’s corner to see if you can help fill up, there will be many whoo-hoo moments.
  • Don’t forget to take wine and cheese breaks, if you haven’t fitted a piece for fifteen minutes, walk away, take a break.

Once you are done, frame the puzzle and then gift it. Quite a personal gift I would say. If you are recycling, make sure all the pieces are counted twice over, 999 pieces is no good.

From learning a new skill to flexing your creative muscles, rediscovering jigsaw puzzles during lockdown could be a great idea for making the most of your downtime and when shared with family, it’s a win-win situation.

People call it tackling lockdown — piece by piece

Joys of Dissectology during lockdown. A Dissectologist is a person who enjoys jigsaw puzzles. (A non-existent word in the English dictionary)


The medical benefits of — JIGSAW and WASGIJ

It relieves anxiety and stress

It is good for your mental cognition

It makes you happy

It has no side effects

It exercises both the left and right side of the brain at the same time

It helps keep Alzheimer’s and Dementia at bay

It improves speed and short-term memory

It is calming

It gives you a tiny hit of Dopamine, each time you connect a piece and this hit becomes huge at the end of fitting the puzzle together.

It might be time to try a new approach, get immersed in your JIGSAWS or WASGIJS, your cooped up days, will find wellbeing.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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