It’s that time of year again when millions of workers trudge back to the office (or home office) after a much-needed holiday, once again focusing on the work at hand. And while the new year can bring fresh energy and insights for some, many find the start of a new year challenging.
For some, heading back to work after long holidays can feel like a kind of “intellectual whiplash,” a quick and overwhelming reintroduction to routine and responsibility. For others, it’s the winter weather that weighs most heavily; the lack of sunshine and outdoor activity can make you feel sluggish, slow and sad. Some might feel stressed, lacking focus or lacking confidence – each of which may negatively affect your work performance.
You might rightly wonder: Is there anything you can do to help yourself? How can you support your mind and body so that you live up to your highest potential? Luckily, there are supplements that may help you perform better at work. The key is to find supplements that tackle the underlying issues surrounding work performance: focus, memory, mood, seasonal affective disorder and stress.
If you want to hit the new year running, and work toward that next big promotion or milestone, consider these common supplements.
Focus and Cognitive Performance: Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Workers suffering from the “new year slump” often cite trouble focusing as their main hurdle. The causes of this hazy feeling can vary greatly (everything from dehydration to stress to poor sleep can be the culprit), but the outcomes are often the same. You miss important deadlines, underperform in critical tasks and have difficulty “getting into the groove” at work.
To tackle focus and cognitive performance issues, consider lion’s mane mushrooms. Modern studies show that these nootropic mushrooms, long revered in Eastern medicinal practices, may help activate and clear the mind for optimal cognitive performance. You can find lion’s mane in mushroom superfood blends alongside other cognitive superstars like rhodiola and bacopa monnieri.
Perhaps your problem isn’t focusing on work – but rather retaining information from work. Memory issues are common, especially for overworked individuals with several extra-professional responsibilities. Still, forgetfulness can be a major impediment toward realizing your professional goals.
While several supplements claim to enhance memory, CDP-Choline is one of the only substances to undergo rigorous scientific study. Several studies show that CDP-Choline can markedly improve memory, both in healthy adults and people with cognitive impairment. Ask your doctor before taking CDP-Choline; in several countries (the US excluded), CDP-Choline is a prescription-only supplement.
Mood and Confidence: St. John’s Wort
Anger, despondency and frustration are hard enough emotions in their own right. But when you factor in their impact on your professional life, these negative emotions can be doubly challenging.
If you sense that your mood is getting in the way of optimal work performance, consider taking a mood-boosting supplement like St. John’s Wort. Promising research into this medicinal flowering plant shows that it can help mitigate moderate depression and mood disorders. It’s a common supplement in several European countries, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it in North America.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Vitamin D
You’ve probably heard of “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD). It’s a type of depression caused by low exposure to sunlight, as is often the case in winter. Experts estimate that roughly 5% of people (or 1 in 20) experience SAD, typically lasting around 40% of the year.
Seasonal affective disorder can be seriously disruptive to your personal and professional life. Luckily, scientists have zeroed in on a few strategies that work for most people. Light therapy lamps, which simulate sunlight and encourage your body’s serotonin production, are popular among SAD sufferers. And many experts recommend taking vitamin D supplements as well. When exposed to sunlight, your body naturally produces vitamin D; in the absence of sunlight, taking a vitamin D supplement is the next best thing.
Stress and Pressure: Reishi
Like lion’s mane, reishi is a functional mushroom first used in Eastern herbalist traditions. Many Eastern medicinal practitioners swear by reishi mushrooms as a panacea for several ailments, but it is perhaps best known as an “adaptogen.”
Adaptogens like reishi mushrooms help promote healthy stress responses by smoothing and calming your nerves. A little bit of stress at work can be beneficial – it motivates you to get your work done on time. But too much stress starts to take its toll, potentially interfering with your confidence, focus and mood. If work is stressing you out, consider sipping a cup of reishi tea with breakfast.
It’s a tough time of year for everyone. The weather is bleak, stress is high, and heading back to the office comes with a unique set of challenges. However, you can set yourself on the right path with a few smart supplements that target stress, memory, focus, SAD and mood.