Over the years, it’s often been discussed how solving crosswords has amazing health benefits, especially for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Renowned researcher Ann Lukits wrote for The Wall Street Journal, “Puzzles boost verbal skills as well as cut dementia risks.”
While crossword puzzles can help to alleviate, and in some cases avoid, mental diseases in older folks, they are also beneficial for kids, teens, and young adults. Crossword puzzles can help improve strategic and analytical thinking needed at home, school, or in the workplace.
This article will explore seven tips on how crosswords can help improve your strategic thinking.
Improve Problem Solving Skills
The intricate and complicated nature of crossword puzzles is a huge factor in what makes them excellent tools in improving problem-solving skills.
Strategic thinking involves coming up with two, maybe three, possible solutions to any given problem. You then weigh the pros and cons of each possible solution before making a final decision.
This is something you’re forced to do when working on crossword puzzles. With each given clue, you weigh possible words against each other until you find the exact one that fits. The more you do this, the better your problem-solving in real-world scenarios becomes.
Help You Concentrate on Your Tasks
Being analytical and strategic in your thinking also requires heavy levels of concentration. You can’t afford to be distracted from the task at hand, or you’ll never solve your problem. If you’re not focused on your job enough, you may risk losing it, as well.
When solving a crossword puzzle, you must be completely focused on each problem in order to solve it correctly. This teaches you how to tune out outside distractions and trains your brain to pay attention to just the clues and potential solutions.
Moreover, focusing hard on a puzzle can help you forget about problems in your personal life, which can help you to relax and de-stress. The less stressed you are, the easier it’ll be to do your job.
Enhance Your Memory
Having a good memory is key to being able to think strategically, especially in the work setting. If you can’t remember key details about a current project or ways that you’ve solved a similar problem in the past, completing it will be difficult.
Regularly working on crossword puzzles can help enhance your memory capabilities. The activity keeps your brain active, which helps to strengthen existing connections between your brain cells, while also forming new connections. This strengthening and building of connections help to increase mental and memory.
Help You Make Important Decisions
Crossword puzzles can help you improve your decision-making, a skill that’s necessary for strategic thinking. As mentioned before, while solving a puzzle clue, you’ll often come up with a few possible solutions and you need to be able to decide which is the best not only for the presented clue but what fits with the rest of the grid.
When making decisions in the workplace, many times you’ll be faced with making an important decision that benefits you and the people around you. Crosswords can help you train your mind to make the best possible decision for you and your co-workers.
This skill can also help you in your personal life. Do you need to decide on a new job? House? Where to move? Daily crossword puzzles can help give you exactly what you need to make the right decision. With strong decision-making skills, the answers for the times will be easier to come by.
Teach You to Be Observant
Another important strategic thinking skill is being observant of your surroundings, especially the people you interact with every day.
Crosswords can help you increase your observation skills. You need to be aware not only about the given clue but the surrounding clues as well, so you can decide which words fit properly in the puzzle.
Being observant engages all your senses. While crosswords may not help you with your hearing or your sense of smell, the training it does to your brain can help you to engage those senses when you need them so you can know exactly what’s going on around you.
Encourage Good Reading Habits
Whether you’re reading the clues or reading your browser’s search history looking for possible answers to the clues, working on crosswords forces you to read. In doing so, the more you work on these puzzles the more you’ll improve your reading skills.
Take those reading skills to the next level and start reading more books. Reading books on a regular basis, along with crossword puzzles, can help broaden your horizons.
You’ll learn more than you ever dreamed and keeping your mind active in this way can help improve your strategic thinking skills by thinking about what you’re reading and making predictions about what might happen.
Improve Your Mood
If you’re down, upset, or depressed, making strategic decisions (in the workplace or at home) is going to be very difficult. Often what happens is you’ll make a decision based on your emotions and suffer for it later. Or, you’ll have such a hard time deciding you get more stressed, which only makes your overall mood worse.
A consistent regimen of working on crossword puzzles can go a long way towards improving your mood. When you complete a difficult puzzle, that sense of accomplishment can be so strong that it’s an instant and natural boost to your mood.
This sense of accomplishment releases dopamine into your brain, which makes you feel happy and peaceful. The more you complete a puzzle, the better your mood will be, giving you more confidence to tackle your daily work and personal issues.
From boosting problem-solving skills and enhancing concentration, to improving your overall mood and memory capacities, it’s clear that a regular habit of working on and solving crossword puzzles can do a lot more than just help your brain.
With the skills and training your brain gets from crosswords, you can perform better in school and on the job, make better life decisions, and live a much higher quality of life. The lessened chance of ever developing brain degradation in your later years is just a plus when compared to the other benefits.