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What Do Laughter, Games, & Play Have to Do with Brain Health? Everything!

30 Mar

I can’t think of a better way to start just about anything than with a bout of laughter.

Last week on Finding Your New Normal, before Mary and I brought out the puzzles and games, we kicked our session off with a breathing exercise wrapped in laughter. Here is how it went, for the most part. Give it a try!

Sit in a chair with your feet touching the ground. 

Take a deep breath in and feel the cool air rush in through your nose. Hold that breath for a beat or two at the top and feel a fountain of “good” spill down over your whole body.

As you exhale through your mouth, say HA and feel the warm air leave your mouth.

Take another deep breath in, this time intentionally breathing in joy. Feel the cool rush of joy enter your body. Again, hold that breath at the top and feel the fountain of joy wash over your entire body.

As you exhale through your mouth, say HA, HA, HA and feel the warm air leave your body but the joy remains.

Rinse and repeat holding the breath of joy at the top for three or four beats and intensify the rain of happiness and light that flows down your entire body.

This last time as you exhale through your mouth, say HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA and allow that laughter to continue until all the air leaves your lungs.

Now that is how to set up a conversation on how puzzles, games, and play promote healthy brains, balanced neurochemicals, and increase the quality of life.

Below is the link to the whole conversation but here are a few highlights:

  • Games, like Shut the Box that make you add, think strategically, and require motor skills (rolling dice), keep pathways open in multiple areas of the brain and feed you with an amazing bath of chemical and electrical activity.
  • Mary is the Queen of fidgets (little things to keep your hands busy). Fidgets are amazing focusing tools and can be used to diffuse stress, break the tension of sensory overload, and distract.
  • Games that involve words and games that involve figures / shapes help you stretch different areas of your brain.

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A Challenging Word Puzzle That Force You to “Be Complicated”

4 Nov

The best kind of brain exercise is one that employs more than process — one that is complicated and challenges you to use more of your brain.

Word Sequences are puzzles do just that.  In order to solve the puzzle you will have to think critically, tap into some spatial skills, and problem solve while pulling out words that fit all the clues and cues. That means using multiple processes all at once!

Playing word sequences is tough for a couple reasons.

First, you have to move the correct letters down to fill in pieces of the word below it — that means you must visually line up the letters and mechanically put the right letter in the appropriate spot. See the example below but the idea is move the letters into the blanks lines below them. That requires spatial orientation and discrimination (only move letters on to the blank lines and not into the circles and make sure you lining it all up correctly).

Next you must look at the clue and sort through a list of possible right answers in your memory. The clues in this puzzle are not always clear cut so sift and sort through the possible answers.

Finally, based on the letters you moved on to the blank lines and the number of remaining blank circles you must choose from that list and write in the answer. Based on all of that, fill in the circles with the appropriate letters.

Step and repeat until you reach the end!

Here is a sample.

Word sequences EXAMPLE


Try this one on your own. Take your time and focus on one task at a time.

Wednesday's Word Challenge word sequences word game

Was this a challenge? If so, what part was hardest for you?

Puzzles like these can help you find clues to processing challenges. Pay attention to what feels difficult and watch for patterns!


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