In the current digital world, it is virtually impossible to avoid screens. Computers, phones, tablets, iPads, all are vital for communication at work and leisure time. Indeed, we use them in both our professional and personal lives. As such, we often end the day with headaches from looking at screens and artificial light for so long. This has only intensified since we have all started working from home.
However, if there is one thing that I have discovered from working from home (no, it’s regrettably not how to make the perfect banana bread) its puzzles! Sudokus, word searches, crosswords are all brilliant mind games and a welcome distraction from emails and screens. Ironically, you can actually access these for free online, but as we are trying to avoid screens, I suggest doing these by hand. A plethora of these appear every day in newspapers, magazines and are also sold as little books in the supermarket which are cheap as chips. It’s a good investment – I have a sudoku book (bought for £2.50) that has so far lasted me three months. I do one sudoku a day, usually more than that on the weekend, and am not even halfway through my little book yet. There are usually at least 100-150 puzzles in a book, all of which have answers provided on the back pages.
I often do a sudoku during my lunch break. 10 to 15 minutes of quiet, peaceful problem-solving (yes, this does exist!) can work wonders for the brain. In fact, I often find my concentration levels are better in the afternoon, perhaps because I have exercised (or awakened!) parts of my brain that had not been exercised before. Sudokus can help you stay sharp and agile because of the amount of thinking required; each number you write in the box requires careful thought and consideration. As such, it is always handy to have an eraser nearby when completing a puzzle! When numbers are placed in boxes, you have to remember the rules of the game and how many numbers are in the box, improving your memory. If you time yourself (e.g. tell yourself I must complete this by 2pm because that’s when I must start work again) your speed will improve, which can lead to increased speed in other parts of your P.A. life. Word-searches are also a brilliant way of learning new vocabulary as well as finding inaccuracies. Crosswords can improve your overall knowledge and can come in handy the next time your colleagues randomly debate what the capital of Switzerland is!
Taking a moment to relax, softly stimulate and engage your brain is an inviting distraction when working from home. It can be relaxing, therapeutic and something to look forward to each day. A ‘me’ moment, if you like. Each puzzle you complete, the better you will become and therefore the greater the sense of achievement. It is a great way to spend time when you have a quiet moment and much better than looking at a screen. Taking a moment to activate parts of your brain instead of filling (or overfilling) it with information from scrolling on social media or emails, may also help your stress levels.
Now, I’m off to complete the sudoku I’ve been stuck on for 2 days….I WILL get there!