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Can LEGO benefit adults mental health and wellbeing?

The mental health charity, MIND, recently revealed that one in four people will experience a mental health problem, with two million people currently on a waiting list for NHS mental health services. The charity also found that the number of young people struggling with their mental health has nearly doubled since 2017. These concerning statistics highlight the scale of the crisis, and as the cost of living crisis continues to impact households around the country, many more people will find themselves struggling with their mental health. 

But with little to no support available, are there any other ways we improve our mental health? Online LEGO specialist Madbricks spoke to psychotherapist and author Eloise Skinner, who explained how building sets such as LEGO and puzzles can have a positive impact on our mood and the negative symptoms of mental health:

Your stress levels will begin to drop

According to LEGO’s own Play Well Report, the majority (93%) of adults they surveyed regularly experience stress in some form within their everyday lives. The report also revealed that 86% of adults felt de-stressed and a sense of calm during and after spending time playing with LEGO. 

Commenting on stress levels, Eloise said, “For those of us who often feel stressed and overwhelmed by the relentless pace of the world, we might find that LEGO helps us bring our attention back into the present moment.”

“Becoming immersed in a singular task can help us reduce overthinking or unhelpful patterns of thought, and can allow us to feel more present and engaged in our everyday experience.”

Playing with LEGO could help you sleep better 

Many people may be unaware that watching your favourite TV show during the evenings or scrolling through social media before bedtime could have a profound effect on the quality of sleep they get each night, which could also contribute to high levels of stress. 

Recent data provided by Data Reportal stated that in 2023, the global average screen time was 6 hours and 37 minutes per day. Studies have also shown that immersing yourself with more than two hours of screen time before bed can have a profound effect on your melatonin levels, the body’s chemical needed to help you drift off to sleep. 

Stepping away from our digital lives and screens to sit down with LEGO sets that require our undivided attention could help adults wind down in the evenings and improve our sleep patterns. 

When it comes to our overall sleep quality, Eloise stated, While it depends on what exactly poor sleep is caused by, playing with LEGO, puzzles or mind challenges in the evenings can help to ease stress and anxiety, bringing us into the present moment and allowing us to focus our thoughts on the task at hand. This can prepare our minds to wind down and relax when it comes to going to sleep.”

Completing LEGO offers a great sense of achievement

Completing a LEGO set, whether you’re following a set of instructions or using your imagination, can offer a sense of achievement and pride. This can be a powerful mood booster, particularly for those who struggle with stress and their mental health. 

Not only can it offer a sense of accomplishment, but it can also help boost self-confidence, leading to the feeling that you can achieve anything. This could help you with other parts of your life, driving you to take on bigger and more complex tasks. 

LEGO could make your feel happier

Whilst there are genuine benefits to our mental health, wellbeing and continued development, we mustn’t forget the main reason why you’d want to play with LEGO or a puzzle – it’s good fun!

Many of us lead busy lives, therefore finding time for ourselves can be a luxury. It’s important we make this time as it’s essential to ensure we’re caring for our mental health effectively. 

Simply engaging in adult play, such as building LEGO, a board game or a jigsaw puzzle, can make us feel good by triggering the release of dopamine; the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. 

When it comes to how it impacts our happiness and sense of achievement, Eloise explained, “Making time for playtime as an adult can definitely have a positive effect on your mood and generally make you feel happier. Along with stress reduction and present-moment awareness, there’s also a sense of satisfaction from completing or working on a task. And this is not only at the final completion of the task but the general sense of fulfilment we get along the way!”

Creative play can help you to relax and unwind

Hands-on activities like painting, crafting and building have a naturally calming effect on the brain. When you’re creating something, like building LEGO for example, you’re pointing your mind in the direction of the thing you’re creating. The hand-eye coordination needed for this activity can also help put the brain into a meditative state, helping to reduce overthinking and feelings of anxiety as well as aiding relaxation. 

You can even find a playlist called ‘LEGO White Noise’ from the LEGO Group – available on Spotify – which is specifically designed to promote relaxation and soothe you. This can be really helpful if you’re struggling mentally and find it hard to switch off, as the gentle clicking of LEGO bricks can help soothe your brain and make you feel calmer.

Build LEGO, build your connections 

Setting aside some quality time with your family and friends can do wonders for your mental health and social interaction with other people. Collaborative play can bring you closer together with your loved ones, as you all concentrate on the challenge of completing a strategic puzzle or big LEGO set. 

Collaborative play is especially beneficial if you have children too, helping to strengthen bonds between parent and child, but also teaching valuable social and communication skills in the process. 

Whilst LEGO can bring your family and friends closer together, there are opportunities to build strong connections online too. LEGO has gained an array of loyal followers over the years, so naturally there are plenty of enthusiasts who are eager to share their opinions and creations on forums, fansites and at conventions. These not only help build further social connections but also offer a sense of belonging, which can help improve your mental health and make you feel less alone. 
Focusing on the impact LEGO could have on our connections and social interactions, Eloise concluded, Collaborative play as an adult will certainly have a positive effect on our mental health and wellbeing. Factors such as teamwork, collaborative thinking, shared values and hobbies can be incredibly helpful when it comes to strengthening relationships. Experiences can often bond us as well, so completing a task together could be a great experience to share with loved ones.”