Relax and Live a Little

DeCooler than your average granmands. Deadlines. Delays. Some days the stress of life makes our mental cogs spin so wildly, it can feel like our brains are overheating! In the rapid pace of everyday living, accumulated stress can compromise brain health, but what can we do about it?

Perhaps the advice of 85-year-old Nadine Stair offers some direction. In her poem “If I Had to Live Life Over Again,” the sage Kentuckian penned: “I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I’d limber up. I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip. . . . I would eat more ice cream and less beans.”

So how can we apply Nadine’s slow-down-and-savor-life perspective to our lives? Here are some suggestions:

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Should You Make a Big Decision on a Warm or Cold Day?

cold dayDid you know that temperature affects complex decision making?

Say you’re vacationing in Texas in the dead of summer and you run to the store to buy something you need. There are two choices: one is a more familiar option and the other is unfamiliar and a little more complicated. Studies say you’re more likely to buy the familiar product on that particular day than you would in the dead of winter. This is because on a hot day you may not have the cognitive resources to make a more complex decision.

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Scary Snacks for Autumn Fun

Brain Cupcakes

Since we like to talk about the brain, think about the brain, study the brain, and improve the brain, we thought Halloween was the perfect time to MAKE some brains. Take some traditional treats and turn them into a creepy, delicious dish everyone will love. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a zombie to enjoy these brains.

Want to make some scary appetizers for a Halloween party? Try these recipes:

Avocado Salsa Brain Dip
Creamy Chicken Brain Dip
Skeleton and Brain Dip
Shrimp Cocktail Dip
Watermelon Brain

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Can Attention be Trained? Seniors (and Babies) Prove It Can

Baby girl playing outdoorsWhen TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret of her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”

If you struggle with ADHD, however, that’s a lot easier said than done.

About 6 million children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD, with an estimated four percent of U.S. adults struggling with the disorder as well.

The good news is that support and education help. Plus, there are things you can do. In fact, if you’re looking for something you can do to help yourself or a child who struggles, two studies on attention are worth, well, paying attention to.

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The Key To Success

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TEDResearch shows that kids with lots of grit (and less mental ability) are more successful than kids with lots of mental ability (but less grit). In this video, researcher and psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth extols the virtues of grit, saying that “grittier” kids—those who try harder and don’t give up over the long haul—do better in school. For that matter, “grittier” adults do better in their jobs and goals, too. In fact, when it comes to success, Dr. Duckworth says “grit” is a better indicator of future success than IQ.

So how do we build grit in kids and adults? Dr. Duckworth says the best idea she’s heard so far is something called “growth mindset.” She quotes Stanford University’s Dr. Carol Dweck who says that  “growth mindset” is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with effort. According to Dr. Dweck, when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re more likely to persevere when they fail.

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