These Affordable Puzzles Are Beautiful, Relaxing, and Eco-Friendly, Too
During quarantine, I wasn’t one of the many people who picked up puzzles as a way to pass the time. “Animal Crossing” was my vice, and when I wasn’t playing video games, I kept busy working, and when work ran out, I was writing. Inevitably, I put myself into a cycle of fighting stress with work and using productivity as a distraction instead of simply existing. As a result, I forgot how to slow down, and every way I tried to relax left me feeling unsatisfied. I tried coloring books but got bored; painting was lovely when my perfectionist streak wasn’t nipping at my heels. I searched for a solution that was both artistic and semi-structured and found puzzles by Lemonade Pursuits.
I was immediately drawn not only to the art featured on each puzzle (which we’ll get to in a minute) but the brand ethos as well. I liked that Lemonade Pursuit puzzles are eco-friendly, and composed of recycled materials, printed with soy ink, and wrapped in biodegradable plastic.
But just as important as the company’s ethos is the fact that these puzzles are created to be done mindfully: Lemonade Pursuits design their puzzles in an effort to combat stressful days. In fact, the company mission is “to positively harness the mental energy that causes anxiety.” And it turns out that jigsaw puzzles are a perfect medium for this. The act of putting a puzzle together engages both the analytical left hemisphere and the creative-minded right hemisphere of the brain. (This is not unlike other forms of meditation, and a 2004 study from Princeton University found that meditation can light up certain parts of a person’s mind not unlike other activities.)
When it came to trying out a Lemonade Pursuits puzzle, I picked a 1000-piece puzzle called “Spring Begins,” a colorful abstract reminiscent of blooming flowers. The design is by Susan Nethercote, an artist based in Australia, who “seeks to capture and communicate the dynamism and magic of nature through fluid, expressionistic and colorful interpretations of nature’s treasures.” The contributing artists for Lemonade Pursuits are all women who earn 10 percent of every dollar spent on the puzzle collection. (And Lemonade Pursuits is a woman-owned company.)
Despite the kaleidoscopic range of colors, the “Spring Begins” design doesn’t feel busy or stressful to look at; rather, it gives off a feeling of excitement and a flow into new beginnings just on the horizon. Here’s how one 5-star review summed it up: “Beautiful image, and love the velvety finish of the pieces. There were no false fits, and a piece would just fall into place when it was the right one. I definitely took my time with this puzzle to enjoy the experience. I didn’t even mind sorting! Love the high quality of the puzzle overall.”
The designs of each puzzle are meant to cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation, and because they’re modeled after artwork, they make beautiful pieces to glue together, frame, and hang on the wall. Puzzle assembly is an activity that makes a person slow down, no matter how hard one might try to rush through it. One thing I realized I like about puzzles is the freedom to make a mess and still winding up with a finished product. It satisfied a need to not think and follow instinct.
It took me a few days to complete the puzzle, but I wasn’t stressed by the time lapse. I felt a sense of joy not only completing the puzzle, but also in sifting through the pieces in the box as I searched for the right fit. They’re eye-catching and hold interest, and the more of the puzzle you put together, the more discoveries you make — both within the art and within yourself.