Newsletter Archive

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

The Professional Brain Newsletter Archives

Join the email list for a weekly nudge designed to help professionals enhance their brain health and mental strength.  

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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Best Possible Self

Positive Psychology is the study of human thriving and activities that promote positive functioning and well-being.  The Best Possible Self Exercise (BPS) is a Positive Psychology intervention that has been studied since 2001.  A meta-analysis of 29 studies involving 2,909 participants found that BPS can improve well-being, optimism, and positive

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Self-Care & Burnout

The increase in uncertainty, combined with the loss of socialization and normalcy during the pandemic can cause irritability, sleeplessness, lack of concentration, and hyper-vigilance.  More people are suffering from mental health challenges including increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.  A CDC survey found that 41% of Americans are struggling with

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Sleep Deprivation & Rumination

A major impact of the pandemic is ambiguity, caused by our inability to predict or control many aspects of our socially distanced lives.  Ambiguity activates the parts of our brain crucial to anxiety and loathing.  Ambiguity can cause rampant rumination, as the brain is unable to rely on executive function

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Elevate Positivity

The pandemic is a challenge.  Because our survival brains are trained to scan for threat, we are likely experiencing more negative emotions than usual. One way to increase positive emotions is to turn positive facts into affirmative experiences.  This is a type of gratitude practice, Note and Appreciate, that requires

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Copyright Debra Austin. All rights reserved.

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