Faced with even a 1500 piece jigsaw, I notice my heart rate increase – a sure sign of anxiety. The idea of having to put together all those little pieces to create the bigger picture, for me, creates a huge feeling of overwhelm.
Can you relate to that too?
…when I actually sit down to then do the jigsaw, a sense of calmness descends. I start with sorting out all the edge pieces and whilst doing that, find the corners.
The focus is then not on 1500 pieces, but just the edge pieces. Next step – start to create the framework – putting all of the edge bits together.
Once that is in place, I then pick little bits of the picture that are easily identifiable. It may be something with a strong colour, or an image that stands out from the rest. And then delving back into the box, I’m just scanning for specific bits that match the criteria I have.
When it comes to those nightmare bits – normally the sky, I then start to sort the bits that are left out into their different styles. There are the bits that have 3, or even 4 knobbly bits. Others that have only 1 and 3 holes. Then if I know I am looking for a piece of a particular shape, I just have one pile to sort through.
By breaking things down into smaller chunks, very quickly the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm disappear. A calmness replaces it and ironically, time seems to take on another dimension and hours can disappear – hours when I am not thinking about work, kids, the need to walk the dog – just solving the puzzle, piece by piece.
Bringing the jigsaw into life
The jigsaw strategy is one that I have found to be perfect to dealing with anxiety in life too. Most people have a lot going on in life – just like pieces of a jigsaw. And this can easily lead to overwhelm and anxiety.
So start by finding the corner bits. What are the things that, by getting them done, will create some structure. These might be the big things like sorting finances – the things that if they are not in place, makes putting the rest of the puzzle together more difficult.
Then find the edge bits – those pieces in life that give you strength. This may be a focus on your health – after all, if that goes to pot then everything else struggles to!
And then you can start picking up the bits that standout, and so it goes on.
What this strategy does is change how your mind works.
The focus on just one element of the jigsaw, allows your mind to block out all the other things and reduces the overwhelm. By creating boundaries, the mind has a sense of security – and where there is security there is no room for anxiety.
And as each piece finds its place, the picture, the solution becomes clearer and clearer. The more that is achieved, the less there is to do. The less stress you experience.
And then you reach that magical moment – putting the last piece in and achieving success.
In life, sometimes the jigsaw never quite gets completed and there is often more pieces to fit in, but this strategy can be very effective at being able to find homes for those pieces in a sense of calm as opposed to overwhelm.
Other solutions to reduce anxiety
Do you think this approach could work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them with me in the comments box below.
If jigsaws are not your thing, there are 30 other ways that I have put together in an e-book that you can download here and find one that may be more your cup of tea!