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Jigsaw puzzles aren’t just fun. They can also relieve anxiety, especially when you put them together, well, together.
Caitlin Agnew

While out shopping for Christmas presents in 2018, I bought myself a jigsaw puzzle on a whim. It was an unusual buy, one that I now recognize as an attempt at dealing with that particular stress many of us experience during the holidays. Don’t get me wrong—I love seeing my family. But holiday get-togethers have a way of putting any personal shortcomings at center stage. This cheery pink puzzle had everything I felt I needed to distract myself in one box. And at $20, the price was right. Why not?

As soon as I started on my puzzle, I knew I’d found exactly what I was looking for. Instead of my usual latenight Netflix binge, I was sorting its 1,000 pieces well into the wee hours. I finished it in just a few days. I felt possessed by the soothing, methodical action, almost like I’d been hypnotized or spent hours meditating.

Robyn Breen, a dance instructor at Misfitstudio in Toronto, knows the feeling. At a family gathering years ago, Breen was reintroduced to puzzles and fell in love with their soothing effect.


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April 2020