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A Dash of Dopamine & A Splash of Serotonin

Puzzles are good for you. We’ve all heard that, but WHY are puzzles good for you? What makes them more than just a run-of-the-mill hobby or a way to pass the time? The secret is our friends dopamine and serotonin! 

So what exactly are dopamine and serotonin? Both are neurotransmitters, communicating messages between your brain and nerve centers throughout your body, and they can both act as hormones. 

The Brain | Eurographics | 1000 pieces

Dopamine is made in your brain and is involved with memory, behavior and cognition, attention, mood, learning, and feelings of pleasure or rewards. If you have enough dopamine, you feel happy, alert, and motivated. If you have a dopamine deficiency, you feel tired, unmotivated, have sleep issues, low concentration and memory. 

Serotonin is a known as the ‘happy chemical’, playing a huge role in overall mood, stomach/GI and bone health, wound healing. If you have enough serotonin, you feel happy, well, and your body is able to heal better. If you have a serotonin deficiency, you face depression, anxiety, issues sleeping, and overall stress leading to issues with wellness.

OK, OK… science lesson over. Now….how to piece this together on how it relates to puzzles (get it, piece together…..)?

Love in the Wild | Mudpuppy | 24 pieces

See that puzzle? The colors, and puzzle shape…that puzzle gives me a boost of serotonin, which makes me happier just by looking at it. Your brain subconsciously picks puzzles for you based on what visually creates more serotonin for you. You’ve brought it home, and now have started piecing it together. As you start, each successful connection would give a little drop of dopamine. Both chemicals would work together to enhance my memory as I work. Do you ever notice that when you’re working on a puzzle and looking for a specific piece you can somehow just remember which sorting tray it was on, or even see a piece and know where it goes? That’s our handy good brain chemicals in action, and enhancing memory!

Each section completed makes our goal-oriented brains scream with joy, and happy that we’ve accomplished something. If you’ve chosen a puzzle image that you really enjoy as well, dopamine and serotonin are created even more, and you feel even better while completing it. 

Are you into landscapes? If yes, ones with lighthouses or cozy cottagesSunsets or mountain ranges?

If landscapes aren’t your thing, maybe it's a collage of doors, explosion of color, or your favorite sci-fi character, whatever makes you smile when you see it, you can thank dopamine for enhancing that joy.


On a personal note, I have ADHD. With this, I am naturally dopamine and serotonin deficient. I can unequivocally state that without puzzles, I would not be able to function how I do in my daily life, including work and personal behaviors. Puzzles, in not too far of a stretch, have saved my life. 

Since puzzles are little bite size doses of the chemicals my body has a hard time producing on its own, they are the perfect way for me to supplement what I need to be able to function. This combination does make me prone to collecting a bit more than is necessary, and if you’ve seen any photos of my collection, you know the depths of it. But I collect all these shiny, pretty images because my brain not only LIKES them, but NEEDS them. 

The mind is more complex than any of us can really ever understand. Down to our core, are a series of chemicals driving us, pushing us forward to find that next little bit of happiness. To bring forth the best of our memory skills, and make sure that we are able to release the stress and find joy piece by piece.

Spring Eternal | Pomegranate | 1000 pieces

Dopamine and serotonin are my best friends, and puzzles are the milkshakes bringing all my friends to the yard. 

-Jenn / @puzzleknucks

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Devon A. - Yardley, PA

What an awesome blog to have found out of the blue. I was seeking to reduce the amount of texts and emails I receive from Puzzle Warehouse and, in my search, I was intrigued by this post's title, listed on the site map. To be frank, I'm having a harder and harder time being thrilled during my recent puzzle shopping searches. I have a backlog of 80 yet-to-be done puzzles that I've collected over the last year or so. I generally do 50-100 puzzles per year and this blog post is a great reminder why I keep looking for great, if not inspiring, puzzles. That's why I keep coming back to Puzzle Warehouse. This post is worthy of sharing with my friends and family. Well written, wonderfully expressed, and absolutely shareable!

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