6-Biohacks-for-Managing-Work-Stress-and-Boosting-Focus

6-Biohacks-for-Managing-Work-Stress-and-Boosting-Focus

The U.S. workforce is currently facing dual epidemics of work-related stress and decreased productivity. According to survey data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a shocking 40 percent of U.S. employees report that their jobs are “very or extremely stressful” and 25 percent view their job as the number one stressor in their lives!1  Simultaneously, employees are wasting staggering amounts of time at work due to poor, fragmented focus.2 While these statistics are discouraging, work doesn’t have to be this way. Simple diet and lifestyle biohacks can help you healthfully manage work-related stress and enhance your focus, boosting your productivity and optimizing your long-term health!

Biohacking is Taking the Workplace by Storm

Biohacking, the process of using science and self-experimentation to optimize your health and your life, has taken the wellness world by storm. Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of biohacking strategies, also referred to as “biohacks,” for reducing employee stress and enhancing productivity, with companies such as Google offering comprehensive wellness program, fitness centers, and “nap pods” for employees. Scientific research supports the implementation of six biohacks for reducing work-related stress and boosting employee focus and productivity:

1.       Eat a diet that supports optimal cognitive function

2.       Limit social media use

3.       Get plenty of sleep

4.       Commit to a consistent exercise routine

5.       Switch up sitting for standing

6.       Meditate

7.       Take brain-boosting botanicals

Feed Your Brain

Nutrition plays a crucial role in optimal mental health and brain function. The foods you choose to eat (and not to eat) significantly influence your mood and cognition, and thus your ability to perform optimally at work.

Limit Carbs to Boost Brain Function

The human brain is highly dependent on glucose for energy production. High blood sugar and frequent fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which are quite common on the high-carbohydrate Standard American Diet, have adverse effects on cognitive function, impairing information processing, working memory, and attention.3

Conversely, switching out refined carbohydrates for foods that elicit a lower blood sugar response – vegetables, whole fruit, meat, seafood, nuts, and seeds – supports optimal cognitive performance.4

Insulin sensitivity, which refers to the ability of cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream efficiently, follows a circadian pattern. It tends to peak early in the day and post-exercise, gradually decreasing at nighttime approaches.5 With this fact in mind, strategically timing the majority of your carbohydrate intake early in the day (ideally, at lunchtime) or post-exercise can minimize blood sugar fluctuations and support a healthy mood and focus.

Eat the Rainbow

The bioactive compounds found in colorful vegetables and fruits such as dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and berries support cognitive function by protecting the brain from oxidative stress, reducing neuroinflammation, and optimizing glycemic control.6,7

Healthy Fats Do A Brain Good!

The brain is 60 percent fat.8 Its fatty acid composition is significantly influenced by dietary fat intake, particularly that of omega-3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid found in almost exclusively in seafood, is highly concentrated in the brain and supports neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity, and optimal cognitive function. The medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil support cognition and focus by enhancing the body’s production of ketones, molecules that serve as a sort of “premium fuel” for the brain, and by influencing the expression of genes involved in synaptic transmission.9,10

B Vitamins and Choline

Grass-fed, organic meats are excellent sources of B vitamins. Vitamin B12, found almost exclusively in animal foods such as meat and seafood, is critical for maintaining a healthy mood and cognitive function. Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in the United States, even among omnivores.11 It significantly impairs cognitive function and focus and, in extreme cases of deficiency, can cause dementia. If you’ve been tested and have low B12, try our Liposomal Methyl-B12 or Methyl B Complex. Interestingly, B12 appears to work synergistically with omega-3 fatty acids to support mental health and cognitive function, so don’t forget to
eat plenty of wild-caught seafood to optimize your omega-3 fatty acid levels!12

Closely related to the B vitamins and equally crucial for brain health is a compound called choline. Choline regulates brain development and cognition, and choline deficiency is associated with cognitive decline and dementia.13 Our Micellized Pure PC contains pure phosphatidylcholine for supporting optimal cognitive function. You can also find phosphatidylcholine in many of our other liposomal mood- and cognition support supplements, including our Liposomal Methyl-B12,
Methyl B Complex, and Noto Bravi.

Limit Social Media

Not surprisingly, personal use of technology, including email, texting, and social media, tops the list of time-wasting activities employees engage in at work.14
Excessive, inefficient technology use derails focus and productivity. The solution here is not a diet intervention or supplement – it involves taking stock of your current use of technology and deciding how to streamline it! If you are currently a “technology addict” and find that it is harming your mental health and/or your productivity at work, consider reading Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism to learn how to reduce your use of technology, allowing it to serve you rather than monopolize your life.

Don’t Skimp on Sleep

While getting by on limited sleep was once considered a sign of a highly-dedicated worker, we now understand that sleep deprivation impairs work performance, not to mention serious health consequences, actually making you worse at your job!

According to research published in Sleep, insomnia costs the U.S. workforce a whopping $63 billion per year!15 A single night of sleep deprivation impairs working memory and productivity and reduces resilience to psychological stress. 16, 17 Conversely, sufficient sleep supports a healthy mood and boosts cognition,
making it the ultimate performance enhancer!18

To manage stress and optimize your performance at work, aim for 7-9 hours of consistent, non-drug-induced sleep per night. The “non-drug-induced” qualifier is crucial, as pharmaceutical sleep aids alter sleep architecture and induce dependence, among many other side effects. To enhance your sleep quality, limit blue light exposure before bed with blue-light-blocking glasses, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and sleep in a completely dark room.

Have you tried the “sleep hygiene” strategies outlined above but still have difficulty falling asleep? Our LipoCalm and Full-Spectrum CBD help wind down sympathetic nervous system activity, preparing your body for deep, restorative sleep.

Establish a Consistent Exercise Routine

A growing body of research indicates that regular exercise significantly reduces stress and enhances work performance, suggesting that it should become a job requirement! Exercise during regular work hours improves mood and self-reported work performance while decreasing absences due to sickness.19 Notably, the beneficial effects of exercise on work performance are absent on inactive days, suggesting that physical activity must be a daily practice to achieve sustained performance enhancement.

If your workplace has an on-site exercise facility, try fitting in an exercise session every day during your lunch break. If an exercise facility isn’t available, go on a walk at lunch or fit in your exercise session before or after work. The most important thing is that you develop a consistent exercise routine that works for you.

Switch Up Sitting for Standing

Standing desks have exploded in popularity in corporate settings, and for a good reason; the use of standing desks enhances job performance and work engagement, decreases daily anxiety, and improves cardiometabolic biomarkers including blood sugar control and blood pressure.20,21

Meditate

Meditation calms the mind, bringing you into the present moment. These qualities make it a valuable tool for reducing work-related stress and enhancing focus! In fact, a consistent meditation practice has been found to increase job satisfaction, job performance, and work engagement.22 If you are new to meditation and not sure where to begin, try a meditation app such as Headspace or Calm; both apps offer short, convenient guided meditations that will quickly rejuvenate your brain!

Take Brain-Boosting Botanicals

Brain inflammation and oxidative stress are critical underlying factors that impact cognition, focus, and productivity at work. Fortunately, nature boasts a cornucopia of botanicals that quench free radical damage and neuroinflammation, boosting brain function.

Ginsenosides, the primary bioactive constituents in Panax ginseng and other members of the Panax genus, are potent neuroprotective agents.23 They enhance cerebral blood flow and inhibit neuroinflammatory processes, supporting learning, attention, acuity, and memory.

Breviscapine, an extract of the Chinese medicinal plant Erigeron breviscapus, also has powerful neuroprotective effects. It contains scutellarin, a phytochemical that increases cerebral blood flow and downregulates the NLRP3 inflammasome, inhibiting neuroinflammation.24,25,26,27

Epimedium brevicornum (Liquid Horny Goat Weed) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years for boosting sexual function and vitality. Today, scientific research indicates that icariin, one of Epimedium’s key constituents, inhibits neuroinflammation and promotes synaptic plasticity through activation of the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway, supporting healthy brain function.28,29  

You can experience the powerful stress-reducing, brain-boosting benefits of ginsenosides, Breviscapine, and liquid Horny Goat Weed together with Noto Bravi, our elegant botanical blend designed to optimize your neural circuitry. Our liposomal and nanoemulsification technology facilitates exceptional absorption of these powerful compounds, bypassing hepatic first-pass metabolism and rapidly delivering nutrients to your cells.  

Cannabidiol (CBD) also alleviates work-related stress and performance issues. It relieves anxiety, promotes alertness, and has marked neuroprotective properties.30,31,32,33 You’ll find it in both our Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum Hemp Extracts, where we’ve combined it with a spectrum of other phytocannabinoids and terpenoids to enhance its calming, focus-enhancing properties.

References

1.       Workplace stress. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress. Accessed 6 June, 2019.

2.       Conner, C. Wasting time at work: The epidemic continues. Forbes. 2015. https://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2015/07/31/wasting-time-at-work-the-epidemic-continues/#35b2906b1d94.

3.       Sommerfield AJ, et al. Acute hyperglycemia alters mood state and impairs cognitive performance in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004; 27(10): 2335-2340.

4.       Philippou E, Constantinou M. The influence of glycemic index on cognitive functioning: A systematic review of the evidence. Adv Nutr. 5(2): 119-130.

5.       Carrasco-Benso MP, et al. Human adipose tissue expresses intrinsic circadian rhythm in insulin sensitivity. FASEB J. 30(9): 3117-3123.

6.       Morris MC, et al. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline. Neurology. 2018; 90(3).

7.       Spencer SJ, et al. Food for thought: how nutrition impacts cognition and emotion. npj Science of Food. 2017; 1: 7.

8.       Chang CY, et al. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009; 18(4): 231-241.

9.       Harvey CJC, et al. The effect of medium chain triglycerides on time to nutritional ketosis and symptoms of keto-induction in healthy adults: A randomised controlled clinical trial. J Nutr Metab. 2018; Article ID 2630565.

10.   Wang D, Mitchell ES. Cognition and synaptic-plasticity related changes in aged rats supplemented with 8- and 10-carbon medium chain triglycerides. PLoS One. 2016. [online].

11.   McBride J. B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought. USDA website. 2000. https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2000/b12-deficiency-may-be-more-widespread-than-thought/.

12.   Rathod R, et al. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function. J Biomed Sci. 2016; 23:17.

13.   Blusztajn JK, et al. Neuroprotective actions of dietary choline. Nutrients. 2017; 9(8): 815.

14.   “CareerBuilder study reveals top ten productivity killers at work.” CareerBuilder website. 2014. https://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?ed=12/31/2014&id=pr827&sd=6/12/2014.

15.   Kessler RC, et al. Insomnia and the performance of US workers: results from the America insomnia survey. Sleep. 2011; 34(9): 1161-1171.

16.   Rangtell FH, et al. A single night of sleep loss impairs objective but not subjective working memory performance in a sex‐dependent manner. J Sleep Res. 2018; 28(1): e12651.

17.   Takahashi M. Prioritizing sleep for healthy work schedules. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012; 31:6.

18.   Williams SG, et al. More than just a good night’s sleep. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018; 14(5): 709-710.

19.   Schwarz UVT, et al. Employee self-rated productivity and objective organizational production levels: Effects of worksite health interventions involving reduced work hours and physical exercise. J Occup Environ Med. 2011; 53(8): 838-844.

20.   Edwardson CL, et al. Effectiveness of the Stand More AT (SMArT) Work intervention: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2018; 363: k3870.

21.   Healy GN, et al. A cluster RCT to reduce workers’ sitting time: Impact on cardiometabolic biomarkers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017; 49(10): 2032-2039.

22.   Shiba K, et al. The association between meditation practice and job performance: A cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2015; 10(5): e0128287.

23.   Zheng M, et al. Ginsenosides: A potential neuroprotective agent. Biomed Res Int. 2018; 2018: 8174345.

24.   Li JH, et al. Functional recovery after scutellarin treatment in transient cerebral ischemic rats: A pilot study with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose microPET. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 507091.

25.   Zhu J, et al. Protective effects of Erigeron breviscapus Hand.– Mazz. (EBHM) extract in retinal neurodegeneration models. Mol Vis. 2018; 24: 315-325.

26.   Jiang L, et al. Neuroprotective effect of breviscapine on traumatic brain injury in rats associated with the inhibition of GSK3β signaling pathway. Brain Research. 2017; 1660: 1-9.

27.   Jiang L, et al. Breviscapine reduces neuronal injury caused by traumatic brain injury insult: partly associated with suppression of interleukin-6 expression. Neural Regen Res. 2017; 12(1): 90-95.

28.   Zheng Y, et al. Icariin targets Nrf2 signaling to inhibit microglia-mediated neuroinflammation. International Immunopharmacology. 2019; 73: 304-311.

29.   Zhao SY, et al. Icariin inhibits AGE-induced injury in PC12 cells by directly targeting apoptosis regulator Bax. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019; 2019: 7940808.

30.   Shannon S, et al. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J. 2019; 23: 18-041.

31.   Fogaca MV, et al. The anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol in chronically stressed mice are mediated by the endocannabinoid system: Role of neurogenesis and dendritic remodeling. Neuropharmacology. 2018; 135: 22-33.

32.   Murillo-Rodriguez E, et al. Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014; 12(3): 269-272.

33.   Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surg Neurol Int. 2018; 9:91.