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.

 

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″.

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Ideas: For Ages 8+

We have another collection of gift ideas for the children in your life, this time for ages 8+! Featuring a selection of popular items from Pixar and Disney, these puzzles are sure to be a favorite among the youngsters.

Real 3D Breakthrough Mickey Mouse by MEGA Puzzles. $21.99. 250+ pieces.

Peter Pan by Sunsout. $5.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 10″ x 16″.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 17″ x 24″.


Sonic the Hedgehog Shaped Puzzle by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 24″ x 18.5″.


Mario Shaped by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 11″ x 24″.


Real 3D Breakthrough – A Hug for Mother by MEGA Puzzles. $21.99. 250+ pieces.


Sporting Fun by Ravensburger. $9.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″.


Animal Planet – Jungle Friends by Ravensburger. $11.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 14.45″ x 10.25″.


Carousel by Ravensburger. $9.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″.


Dragon Voyage by Cobble Hill. $11.99. 180 pieces. Finished size: 19″ x 12.5″.

Holiday Puzzle Series #3: Cardinals in Winter

Wondering why the cardinal makes such a big appearance in our snowy winter puzzles? Well, the cardinal is a bird that doesn’t migrate and doesn’t molt during the winter; it keeps those bright red attention-drawing feathers all year long, making them stand out especially against the white backdrop. Some say the cardinal’s coloring and conspicuousness makes it the bird most responsible for getting people into bird watching, being the first bird that strikes them to open up the bird field guide.

For some symbolic meanings of the cardinal, visit The Cardinal Experience. Cardinals are special birds—they can symbolize a myriad of things, from vitality, faith and power to cycles of life, death, and renewal!

Christmas Red by Sunsout. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 27″ x 35″.

Twilight Trio by Springbok. $11.99. 500 Pieces. Finished size: 18″ x 23.5″.

Cardinals Rustic Retreat by Sunsout. $10.99. 500 pieces. Finished size: 13” x 19”.

Winter Cardinal by Buffalo Games. $10.99. 500 pieces.

 

The Seasons by Sunsout. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 34″.


10 Best Puzzles for Dog Lovers

My brother and I recently got puppies. He has a pit bull named Katie and I have a chihuahua named Marlowe. We also have an old grumpy papillon mix named Sam who gives us looks of contempt when the puppies try to play with him. All this being said, my life is entirely dogs right now. So, to share the puppy love, we bring you some of our cutest dog puzzles that Marlowe helped me pick out.

See, look how helpful she was:

Marlowe may just be a puppy – but she knows how to pick out a great puzzle!

In no particular order – the cutest dogs you’ll ever puzzle:

Puppies Puzzle

Puppies by Euro Graphics. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.5” x 19.25”. $15.99

Bull Dog Puzzle

Bull Dog by Educa. 500 pieces. Finished size: Finished size 18.75″ X 13.5″. $12.99

Puppy and Kitten Puzzle

Big Kiss by Ravensburger. 500 pieces. Finished size: 19.25” x 14.25”. $12.99

Golden Puppies Puzzle

Golden Puppies by Ravensburger. 200 pieces. Finished size: 22.5” x 9.5”. $9.99

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING - PUPPY'S FIRST BATH PUZZLE

Puppy’s First Bath by New York Puzzle Co. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20″ x 27″. $16.99

PUPPY MISCHIEF PUZZLE

Puppy Mischief by Cobble Hill. 500 pieces. Finished size: 24” x 18”. $14.99

Puppies Playing in Paint Puzzle

Playing In Paint by Ravensburger. 300 pieces. Finished size 19.25″ x 14.25″. $13.99

Dog With Rose Puzzle

Dog With a Rose by Clementoni. 500 pieces. Finished size: 19.3” x 14.2”. $11.99

WORLD'S SMALLEST PUZZLES - PUPPY PLAYMATES

Puppy Playmates (World’s Smallest Puzzles Series) by TDC Games. 234 pieces. Finished size: 4” x 6”. $5.99

Mini Puzzle - Sleepy Dogs

Sleeyheads (Mini) by Sunsout. 100 pieces. Finished size: 7” x 9”. $4.99