A brief escape | The Press

As a child, when Pascale couldn’t fall asleep, she would sit at her grandmother’s table to place a few puzzle pieces beside her. It was Marthe who passed on her passion for the hobby to him. And if many of us left this game in childhood, Pascale still knows how to enjoy it.


Published at 4:30 p.m.

Four years ago, Pascale Simard founded the Facebook group “Addicted to puzzles (province of Quebec)”. The objective was noble: to create a place to exchange and resell products so that one’s favorite leisure activity is more ecological and less expensive. If the principle remains, the offer has quickly improved. Today, the 8,600 members of the group also exchange advice and congratulations (several publish photos of their achievements), some meet in public spaces to practice their entertainment together and others announce competitions future. (Because yes, there are puzzle competitions in several regions of Quebec!)

Pascale Simard, 43, is often teased with her “matrix hobby”. Yet she’s far from the only active worker who turns to this tool to slow down. A survey conducted by Ipsos in 2019 for the gaming company Ravensburger suggests that 48% of American adults complete a puzzle at least once a year. In the top 3 reasons cited: relaxation, pleasure and reduced stress levels.

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY PASCALE SIMARD

Pascale Simard

It’s a way to escape through images and take a moment for yourself. It is also an excellent anxiolytic with no side effects.

Pascale Simard

An anxiolytic, you say to yourself? (That’s what I, someone who hasn’t done a puzzle in 25 years, told myself, anyway.)

This idea surprisingly came up often in the testimonies I received from more than 200 subscribers of the “Jigsaw Puzzle Addicts (province of Quebec)” group. When I asked them about their motivations, they obviously spoke to me about relaxation, meditation, serenity, improved patience and pride. Several enthusiasts also claimed to no longer see time slip by, manage to clear their heads and finally get away from the damn screens (or even succeed in bringing the whole family together around something other than a cursed screen!) But many respondents had to at the same time underlined the calming power of the activity…

“I discovered the puzzle in one of my (many) moments of vulnerability,” writes Véronique Vaillancourt. Being an anxious, high-achieving and intense person, I didn’t really have “time” for a hobby. To improve my mental health, I tried music, drawing, mandalas, writing, sport… name it ! I realized that these hobbies contributed to my anxiety because they fed my need to perform. My mandala had to be beautiful, my sentence well written, my skills in sport impeccable… The puzzle allows me to put my switch has Off. »

As I read this, I thought about the strategies I’ve used to slow down, so far. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, intense cooking on Sundays, ice baths, wall staring. I always tried to improve. But why ? (For nothing.) Performance anxiety even in the slowdown.

I make a note to take up puzzles.

It was also while trying to get out of herself that Anne-Claude Séguin fell in love with the game. The 32-year-old woman was preparing for an international skydiving competition when the pandemic… You know the song. Depression set in until Anne-Claude discovered a puzzle at her parents’ house. “I looked at it and found it very ugly, but I thought maybe it could keep me busy. Finally, rearranging the pieces, making an outline and organizing the chaos of 1000 pieces was extremely therapeutic! »

Anne-Claude discovered with relief that there are several styles of puzzles and creators who would know how to thrill her more (including the Ontario artist Nicolle Lalonde).

I have horrible ADHD, but the second I face a puzzle, everything calms down. It allows me to slow down.

Anne-Claude Séguin

Anne-Claude became so passionate about importing products that were not found in Quebec: puzzles made of recyclable material stamped with less damaging ink, as they were designed by Trevell and Cloudberries, For example. Today, she sells them online through her own business, RoseWillie.

Still on the therapeutic level, puzzle addicts have also told me they like solving them to maintain their dexterity, work on their memory or support their brain in the whirlwind of illness. This is the case of Dominique Lebel, who is experiencing a recurrence of breast cancer. She feels the cognitive effects of chemotherapy diminish when she tackles her puzzle, in addition to enjoying a brief escape: “I really need to take my mind off things in order to stop the rolling hamster unending. I choose very colorful models or landscapes where I would like to find myself. »

And if, at this point, you don’t yet want to spread a few coins on your table to discover the effects they could have on the rhythm of your head or your heart, let me pass it on to you the strong argument of Magalie Barsi, mother of seven children: “It gives me the impression of starting something and being able to finish it! It’s a change from the rest: cleaning, washing, renovations and grocery shopping, which always have to be started again…”

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