Since I am a writer, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I like words and word games. A favorite at my home is crossword puzzles and today we are celebrating because it has been proclaimed National Crossword Solvers Day.
According to the National Day Calendar, which keeps track of all such proclamations, the day was introduced last month by professional crossword puzzle writer Myles Mellor and that nearly 50 million people around the world consider themselves cruciverbalists.
Fittingly, the first crossword puzzle was introduced by a journalist, Arthur Wynne, in 1913. As World War I was on the verge of starting, he was looking for a fun way to take people’s minds off the pending battle.
Originally named “FUN’s Word-Cross Puzzle,” for the New York World newspaper’s FUN section, it also seems somewhat appropriate that an editor’s typo became a game changer, having mistakenly called the puzzle a “cross-word.”
My husband and I have been doing crossword puzzles for years. We keep a stack of them near the kitchen table and often do them when sharing a meal. The clues spark a variety of interesting conversations.
Doing crossword puzzles also helps us keep our minds sharp. Studies have shown that they are good at improving short-term memory skills, help delay dementia and boost problem-solving skills and a person’s IQ.
It’s also a great form of stress relief as we often laugh at ourselves for missing simple answers because we tried too hard to complicate the matter.
A prime example — and something that still causes us to giggle — is needing a four-letter word for “seniors dance.” Of course we spent days trying to figure out what dance it could be. None of the obvious dances — foxtrot, salsa, waltz, samba, cha cha — were four letters.
Then, one day, it dawned on us — prom.
Granted, we lived in a community devoted to retirees at the time and that heavily influenced our way of thinking.
Helping reduce stress is important, especially considering that I recently received an email noting that Nevada ranked the No. 1 most stressful state to live and work in.
The findings came from a March poll sponsored by the American Psychological Association in which people reported feeling stressed about inflation, health issues, lack of sleep and an increased reliance on unhealthy habits. Chocolate anyone?
Also considered was data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study looked at the average number of hours worked each week, state unemployment rates and employment laws, as well as average hourly and weekly earnings, income growth rate and people’s exercise habits.
I can definitely attest to the stress at work, though it could be attributed to my chosen profession rather than the state I live in. Deadlines are ever present and when the news happens, journalists jump into action.
Thankfully, crossword puzzles are extremely portable and I can pull one out whenever I need to take a break from the task at hand.
So, do you know a six-letter word for a way to relax?
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.