How to De-Stress and Be Happy

January’s nearly over, and for many of us, we may have quickly realized that while a new year feels fresh and new and time for some change, sometimes that just feels impossible. The burdens and stresses of 2012 didn’t just evaporate into thin air, but there is a chance that we can do something to change it in the new year.

Did you know that doing jigsaw puzzles helps encourage the happy hormone dopamine, which regulates mood and affects concentration? Not just puzzles, but simply focusing more on your hobbies and interests, can be rewarding and soothing in itself. The task of starting and completing a project, like jigsaw puzzles or other crafts and activities, can help keep your brain focused and motivated.

Here are 7 great tips to help you manage stress levels and have a happy new year:

  1. We all know that exercising regularly helps us combat stress. But sometimes it seems like finding the time or energy to exercise is a stress in itself. Start slow. Make baby steps. Ten minutes every other day—and then work up. Do exercises you like, instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate. Even just stretching is good for the brain.
  2. In the same vein, start making some conscious decisions to eat healthier. Water instead of soda. Pour less cereal than you can eat. Go for the fruit first when you want to snack.I find that the more healthy things I opt for, the more I start craving healthy things.
  3. Make time for your hobbies. Doing something that you want to do—and not attaching guilt to it—can be a nice way to relax. Sometimes I prolong bedtime by 20 minutes just to fit in some reading.
  4. Smile! We do naturally when we’re happy, but we can also start to trick our brains into tranquility the same way.
  5. Assess your issues. What’s making you feel stressed? What would you assign it on a scale from 1-10? Sometimes taking a step back and analyzing our issues makes us realize that we’re going to end up okay, that we’ve survived worse, and that we can accomplish what we need in order to relax.
  6. Write about it—releasing pent up feelings will help you let go of some of that tension, it’s private, and if you find there’s something you actually need to say to someone else that’s concerning your stress levels, you can do it in a more composed, thoughtful way now.
  7. Go for a walk, or stare outside at something beautiful and let your mind wander.

Check out this article from Reader’s Digest for even more tips to reduce stress.

Now, of course, here are some of our lovely puzzles that can put you in a tranquil state of mind.

Puzzle of a lighthouse on a rock cliff by the sea.

Dawn’s Early Light by Buffalo Games. 500 pieces.

An image of Hatley Park is on this puzzle and it features a red tree, a bridge, and a river.

Hatley Park by Springbok. 1000 pieces.

An image of a quaint lakeside town with mountains in the background.

Lakeside Afternoon by Buffalo Games. 500 pieces.

A giant field of poppy flowers.

Poppies – Sierra Club by Pomegranate. 1000 pieces.

This is a puzzle featuring an image of a bear being surrounded and embraced by hundreds of butterflies.

Robert Bissell – The Embrace by Pomegranate. 1000 pieces.

A lone fisherman rides in his boat against a blood orange sky.

The Fishermen by Clementoni. 1000 pieces.

A forest stream in fall is illuminated by the yellow and red leaves.

Forest Stream by Euro Graphics. 1000 pieces.

Hot air balloons illuminate the sky of a quaint town.

Balloon Glow by SunsOut. 6000 pieces.

Trees cover the path in this autumn fairytale.

Forever Autumn by Educa. 2000 pieces.

 

What’s More Difficult Than an Impossible Puzzle?

We got an email from Rob asking for suggestions for a gift from his wife. He recently purchased an Impossibles puzzle from Great American Puzzle Factory, known to be quite the challenge with no edge pieces and also extra pieces inside the box – but that just wasn’t challenging enough! As I was writing a response, I thought it would be nice to share with everyone. Here is my response…
Wow – if those Impossibles puzzles are not a challenge, it sounds like we need to either go big (like a 3000pc or larger) or try some specialty items.
Here are some suggestions:

Krypt Puzzle

This jigsaw puzzle is all the same color, so it’s all about the shape of the pieces to complete. According to some of our reviews, it takes several hours just to get the edge pieces together. Some say 1 piece an hour is a good pace… It also has a really shiny, metallic surface, so it looks really cool when complete.

Alex Beard Puzzles

The challenge in these is only a little higher than the Impossibles, but customers have told us it’s really challenging because of the way the pieces are cut. The thing that’s cool, though, is that it’s not a standard cut – the pieces are all random shapes and loose fitting, so they don’t snap together like a regular jigsaw.

Murder Mystery Puzzles

These have 2 puzzles in the same bag, mixed together. There is also no puzzle image. I’ve had a lot of fun doing these with friends. One puzzle is a “before” and one is an “after” scene from a crime – you have to solve both puzzles to solve the mystery. We normally have more in stock if you check back in a few weeks there will be more theme selections.
If none of those sound appealing, then it might be time to up the challenge simply by upping the size of the puzzle. Here are all of our large puzzles: http://www.puzzlewarehouse.com/puzzles-by-difficulty-worlds-largest/

Gift Ideas: For Ages 6+

The holidays may be over, the gifts unwrapped, the Christmas puzzles already built, but the kids in your life still have birthdays and Easters and rewards for good grades that are all great occasions to gift them a puzzle! Today we continue with puzzles appropriate for ages six and up, with dinos, princesses, trains, and teddies!

Real 3D Breakthrough – Princess Heart from MEGA Puzzles. $21.99. 125+ pieces.

Chuggington – Busy Day by Ravensburger. $10.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 14.25″ x 19.25″.


Princess Carriage Ride by Ravensburger. $10.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″.

Dino Balloon by Cobble Hill. $9.99. 60 pieces. Finished size: 12.5″ x 19″.

tatty teddy puzzles

Me to You – Cottage Visit and Garden Party from Tatty Teddy by Ravensburger. $15.99. 100 and 200 pieces. Finished sizes: 19.25″ x 14.25″.

pirates puzzle

Pirate’s Bounty – Floor Puzzle by Melissa and Doug. $11.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 2′ x 3′.

girly puzzles

Moxie Girlz – Magic Hair by Master Pieces. $7.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 11.5″ x 15″.

 

 

Best of Horse Puzzles

Today I went to the San Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California with my family. It was the first time I had seen horses race, and the first time I had bet money on horses to win. It was fun to pick from the silly names (such as Inner Groove, Magic School, and Political Man) and to spend time with my family cheering the horses on as they burst from the gates.

Horse racing has a long history—it’s been found that it even occurred in ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Chariot and mounted horse races were even featured in the ancient Greek Olympics in 648 B.C. Back then it was much less safe, though. Because the ground was so rough and hard, if a rider accidentally fell from the horse, they usually died.

Animal Planet used to have a show called JOCKEYS that told about the lives of those talented riders that race their horses to the finish line. You can now find these episodes online.

For those that love the beauty and grace of these great creatures, we have a selection of horse puzzles. Here are some favorites.

 

horse jigsaw puzzle

Horse Show by SunsOut. $10.99. 500 Pieces. Finished size: 18″ x 24″.

horse shaped jigsaw puzzle

Once Upon A Sky by SunsOut. $17.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size: 24.5″ x 35″.

 

winter horse puzzle

Winter Trio by Cobble Hill. $15.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size 26.625″ x 19.25″.

horses jigsaw puzzle

Country Lane Horses by Cobble Hill. $15.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size 26.625″ x 19.25″.

 

horses jigsaw puzzle

Four Horses of the Apocolypse by SunsOut. $16.99. 1500 Pieces. Finished size: 24″ x 33″.

snow jigsaw puzzle, horses jigsaw puzzle

Spirit of the Rockies by Cobble Hill. $15.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size: 26.625″ x 19.25″.

child jigsaw puzzle, horse jigsaw puzzle

Hay, Baby by SunsOut. $10.99. 500 Pieces. Finished size: 18″ x 24″.

wild horses jigsaw puzzle

A Brand New Hope by SunsOut. $14.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 34″.

 

wild horses jigsaw puzzle

Born to Run by SunsOut. $29.99. 3000 Pieces. Finished size: 42.25″ x 31.2″.

moon jigsaw puzzle, horses jigsaw puzzle

Under the Desert Moon by SunsOut. $10.99. 500 Pieces. Finished size: 18″ x 24″.

 

 

 

Wooden Brain Teasers (also known as Mechanical Puzzles)

Browse some of latest additions to our collection of wooden brain teasers (mechanical puzzles) from Creative Crafthouse. These guys handcraft these high quality wooden puzzles in Spring Hill, Florida. Many of the puzzles are inspired by puzzle designs that have not been made in years. Aside from individual puzzle, they also have beautiful gift boxes with 3 or more puzzles included in a wooden box. Some of the brain teasers are easy to solve, rated a 1 out of 6 on the difficulty level, where others are rated 6 out of 6. For more information and to see prices and even more designs, visit our collection of Creative Crafthouse Puzzles on our website.