We all must admit that during the COVID 19 pandemic we may have tried a thing or two to fill our time. For most people this would have been during our “lockdown” phase. We may have tried to do certain things we do not usually do or do not find time for. Certain people took on DIY home projects and some decided to cook banana bread (Why was this a trend? Who knows?). Now, along with alcohol, the sales of jigsaw puzzles have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic. 

As early as April 2020, just a few months into the pandemic some puzzle-makers were sold out and the demand for puzzles kept increasing. One company reported a whopping 370 percent increase in sales from the year before. Why is this? 

Well, According to University of Toronto’s Professor Marcel Danesi, who is a professor of semiotics  (the study of signs and symbols), there could be many reasons. He believes that puzzles create order into chaos which gives us a sense of control. In life there is always a form of chaos inside us due to the fact that life is so unpredictable. In reality, life is a puzzle with no answers. However, puzzles do have answers, you can finish a puzzle and there is an end result. This provides people with a sense of instant and temporary relief from the discomfort. So, it kind of makes sense, right? In the midst of all this chaos, where life is very out of control, grasping at an attempt to control certain things to stop chaos in our minds sounds like a good plan. 

The puzzles are a distraction from the messy real world and are a way to have the mind and body work together. When your head and hands are putting together the pieces, the confusion and uncertainty recede. And it’s a journey with an actual destination. Another point is that puzzles are a form of escape; once you are concentrating on doing a puzzle, it seems the outside world  temporarily recedes. You immerse yourself into the intricacy of the puzzle and forget about everything else. Forgetting about the negative feelings, anxiety and uncertainty that come with coping with this pandemic, and taking some time out of this reality is just what we need. 

So, after all this, is there any surprise as to why puzzle sales have increased, and also, as to how complicated our minds are? We do things with benefits without even being conscious of the reason behind things. I don’t believe I will look at another puzzle the same way. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.