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Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Lawyer Well-being Newsletter: Helping Lawyers Improve Brain Health & Mental Strength

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Aches, Pains, and Thinking

A sore neck, back pain, or a headache might impair your cognition. Recent research examined the association between everyday pain and working memory performance in healthy adults.  Prior research has shown that pain interferes with executive function (planning and decision-making) and working memory (maintaining and manipulating information for short periods

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Cannabis & Cognition

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 15 states and Washington, D.C.  A scarcity of cannabis research has made potential harm difficult to assess, but several recent studies have made more data available.  Cannabis impacts numerous parts of the brain and body.  There are cannabinoid receptors in the cerebral cortex

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OT for the Panic Button Amygdala

Winter is here.  We are exhausted from social isolation.  We face more uncertainty while we wait for the vaccine.  Many of us fall somewhere on the mental health spectrum between anxiety and depression because our brain’s panic button has been working overtime. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure in the

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High Fat Diet & Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue occurs when you spend sustained attention on demanding cognitive tasks.  Mental fatigue can cause attention and efficiency declines, slower reaction times, and poorer decisions.  Researchers fed one group of rats a high fat diet and the other group of rats a standard diet for 6 weeks.  All the

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The Problem with Cheat Days

Cheat days that include foods prevalent in the Western Diet can diminish the cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.  A recent study involving 5001 Chicago Health and Aging Project participants, over age 65, examined the cognitive health and diet choices of participants every three years from 1993 to 2012.  Researchers

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Habit Stacking

Habit Stacking is adding a new habit right before or after a fully integrated habit.  For example: Add a gratitude reflection or squats while you brush your teeth, Do jumping jacks or push ups right before you shower, or Incorporate wall sits while you check your phone. Habit Stacking works

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Choose a Guiding Word for 2021

This is an exercise where you choose one word to be your driving force for the year.  Your Guiding Word can help you pursue goals and make decisions.  According to Chrissy Carroll, one way to start is to make a list of things that answer the prompt: I want. She

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Laughter & Endorphins

It’s the holiday season and we are socially isolated due to the pandemic, yet we need social support to thrive. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make us feel good.  The word endorphin comes from a combination of endogenous (made within the body) and morphine (an opioid pain reliever).  When endorphins activate

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Flexibility & Relationships

Close high-quality relationships are linked to strong mental and physical well-being.  Flexibility skills can enhance these relationships. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 174 papers with a total of 43,952 participants that examined flexibility in family and romantic relationships.  The research found the following flexibility skills improve relationships: Acceptance of Experiences,

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The Brainbow & Immune System

Food can help our immune system successfully fight off a pathogen.  A strong immune system requires the interaction of numerous micronutrients in a large variety of healthy food, especially a colorful brainbow of fruit and vegetables.  One study compared immune responses in three groups of animals who were fed 2

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Core Strength & Stress

The fight-or-flight stress response begins in the emotional brain with the panic button amygdala.  This threat processor has been on overdrive during the pandemic.  When the amygdala detects a threat, it signals the release of stress hormones, including adrenaline.  In a brain mapping study, researchers have discovered a complex network

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Wilderness & Wellness

Getting through the colder months of the fall and winter, during the pandemic, might be eased if you can visit a wilderness area with a loved one. A recent study examined why people value natural settings.  To experience leisure, we require perceived freedom and intrinsic motivation, according to social psychologists. 

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