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Flavors of Fall: Autumn Activities that Engage Our Brains - Dr. Cynthia Green

Here on the east coast, school is back in session and it is already beginning to feel like fall. While it seems the summer flew by, there is something comforting about returning to days structured around the simple routine of work and home.

I love the way seasonal transitions offer us so many opportunities to engage our brains. The changes in season challenge us to slow down and use all our senses to notice the world around us. It is too easy in the busyness of our days to miss out on the simple reminders of the subtle shift from the languorous days summer to the crisp, cool days of fall or the damp, warm smell in the air as spring arrives. Autumn also offers its own unique ways to get brain-healthy, from the arrival of seasonal foods with brain-boosting nutrients, to using that “back-to-school” feeling we all get to become more disciplined about our own memory strategies.

Here are some great brain-fit ways we love to welcome fall – we hope you enjoy sharing them with your clients, family and using them to take care of your own brain as well.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: Want a delicious, healthy drink that’s full of brain-healthy vitamins and the flavors of fall? Blend together 1 cup of almond, soy or cashew milk, 1 cup of cooked pumpkin (or ½ large cooked sweet potato or yam), 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and a handful of ice cubes (more or less depending on how chilled you like your smoothies). Serve this smoothie as a snack at your fall programs, or pair it with other brain-healthy recipes for a fall activities program filled with brain-boosting treats.

Walk in the Woods. For many of us, one of the clearest signs that fall has arrived is the changing color of the leaves. Taking a walk in the woods, nearby park or even just around the neighborhood gives us a chance to appreciate the turning of time, marked by the array of colors of the foliage. Use this fall walk to focus on the changing season. Encourage clients and others to use all their senses to fully experience the smell in the air, the sensation of being outdoors, and the differences in the world around them.  In an area where the sun always shines? Use this exercise to help folks simply use all their senses to connect with the world around them, and notice any subtle changes that may come as the season changes.

Spicy Scents. Think of all those warm, spicy scents we associate with autumn – Cinnamon, apple, allspice, nutmeg, among others. Gather essential oils or other items filled with the scents of fall for folks to sample. Talk about the memories they evoke, or the feelings that arise as clients try the different scents. If time allows, try baking a few fall treats, such as pumpkin muffins, baked apples, or make applesauce.

School Your Desk. Remember how good it felt to have new things to start the school year? Even if it was just a few new pencils and notebooks, or all those new books, refreshing our supplies always seemed to add to the excitement and enthusiasm of starting a new year. Getting organized is a great way we can help ourselves be more effective at work and at home; After all, folks who are better organized get more done and forget less frequently. We can recapture some of that “back to school” sensation by taking the time to clean out and reorganize our desks or other work areas. Work with clients to identify what they need to do to get their desk area more organized and talk about steps to get it done. If the task is a big one, help them set up a Master Plan that breaks the job down into doable steps (see Step 4 in our Total Memory Workout for instructions on doing so). 

Article from TotalBrainHealth.com 



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