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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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Insomnia & Cognitive Impairment

Insomnia is often caused by cognitive intrusion in response to stressful events.  Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep. When this happens at least three nights a week and for at least three months, it is

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Stress Resilience & Exercise

This is a story about a mouse study, but because so many parallel discoveries have been made in brain research on rodents and humans, findings from rodent research are likely applicable to lawyers and law students. Galanin is a protein that is implicated in mood disorders, stress, sleep, cognitive performance,

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EFT for Anxiety & Depression

Lawyers and law students suffer from higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.  And that was pre-pandemic.  EFT is a research-based brief intervention that can improve anxiety and depression, as well as a number of physical health measures. A recent study included 203 participants, 65% female over

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Surge Capacity v Resilience Reserves

Overachievers might find themselves hitting a wall of unproductivity at this point in the pandemic.  We have been utilizing what University of Minnesota Professor Ann Masten calls surge capacity, “a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations,

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Trauma & Cognitive Decline

Exposure to long-term stress can be harmful to the brain.  Stress hormones, deployed to help us deal with short-term challenges, can shrink or kill the brain cells in our memory processing hippocampus when we are dealing with ongoing stress.  Stress can make our thinking and memory less effective. Research examined

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Motivation & Brain Balance

Motivation is important for goal-directed behavior, performance, and well-being.  To research motivation, scientists engaged 27 men (ages 20-30) in a hand-grip challenge, where they got paid increasing sums of money for expending greater effort at the task.  Participants did not differ in key personality traits, levels of physical activity, or

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Exercise, Aging & Telomeres

Telomeres are nucleoprotein caps at the ends of chromosomes.  Aging causes gradual cell degradation and the shortening of telomeres.  Chronic stress can prematurely shorten our telomeres.  When telomeres get too short, cells can no longer divide leaving us vulnerable to disease.  Telomere length is also regarded as a marker for

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Laughter Lessens Stress

People who laugh frequently may be better equipped to deal with stress. Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland collected data from 41 Psychology students (33 were women, and average age was 22 years) via a cell phone app, 8 times per day for 14 days.  Participants were asked

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Cultivate Optimism

Optimistic people are healthier, and optimism is a skill you can improve.  Optimistic people have lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.  They also have a reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.  The skills that help cultivate happiness include maintaining reasonable

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Dealing with Monotony

If you are experiencing more negative emotions during social distancing, it may be due to the monotony in your daily routine.  Research indicates that experiential diversity promotes well-being.  Scientists used GPS trackers with participants in New York and Miami for a few months, and they collected data from texts that

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Vulnerability & Resilience

Obstacles do not block the path, they are the path.~ Zen Proverb Life-threatening fear can evolve into long-term anxiety.  Many are experiencing fear from the pandemic, exposure to over-policing, and economic instability.  Some recover from fearful experiences, while others face prolonged anxiety and post-traumatic stress.  Vulnerable people are at risk

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Music Improves Workout

Researchers have discovered that high tempo music may improve your workout by increasing heart rate and lowering perceived exertion.  Female participants (N=19, ages 24-28) performed either an endurance exercise (walking on a treadmill) or a high-intensity exercise (using a leg press).  They completed exercise sessions in silence, and while listening

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