In today’s fast-paced, always-on world, with days filled to the brim with endless message notifications, Zoom meetings and those all-important deadlines you can’t afford to miss, it’s little wonder that more people than ever are feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed with all that life has to throw at them. And, in the current climate, with the likes of home-schooling and working remotely thrown into the mix, things can feel like a juggling act where you can’t seem to stop dropping the balls.
With all of this going on, mustering up the same work ethic from your sofa as you used to in the office can feel all-but impossible – and as for staying laser-focused throughout the day to get those priority jobs done, it seems just about as unattainable as it ever has.
Our focus has long been the victim of the digital world we live in, even before the current Covid-19 pandemic swept into our lives – and, alongside poor sleep quality and increased anxiety, the demand for coping mechanisms has been on the increase.
Now, many are turning to nootropics to help them get through the day – no, we’re not talking about illegal, performance enhancing drugs, but natural and powerful daily supplements that many believe can help make it easier to keep your eye on the ball.
Derived from the ancient Greek words nóos – meaning ‘mind’ – and tropḗ, meaning ‘a turning’ – there is no prescription required to get your daily fix on nootropics, which thanks to the power of the plethora of natural ingredients with which they are packed, are said to alleviate brain fog and fatigue and help you to keep on working through the day more easily than ever before.
But are these powerful little pills all they are cracked up to be – and is there anything you should know before investing in an industrial-sized shipment to get you through these trying times? We asked the experts at Fitness Brain – a specialist website which aims to help people achieve the ultimate level of fitness in both body and mind – to give us the low-down.
How nootropics work
There are two different breeds of nootropics, each of which cater to your needs in a unique and specialised way. While some focus (if you’ll excuse the pun) on boosting your energy levels through packing a substantial dose of caffeine, others simply mimic its high with other ingredients – but which one you choose comes down to personal preference.
Many of us already consume a fair amount of caffeine each day, with endless cups of tea and coffee often the only things that get us through until our 5pm clock-off – and there’s no wonder that we, as a society, have developed such a habit.
The most widely-consumed stimulant on earth, it is well-known for its energy boosting properties – but it does come with some draw-backs. For starters, adding caffeine-based nootropics to an already caffeine-heavy routine has the potential to make you feel a little too jittery and wired, which is far from the effect you’re looking for – so if you’re planning on trying out this type then you may wish to cut back on your daily hot drinks quota first.
In the right dose, caffeine can boost alertness and performance – and nootropics are unique in that they balance out any jitteriness and other side-effects with calming amino acids such as L-Theanine. A caffeine hit without the anxiety that comes with one cup of coffee too many? Yes please.
Even so, not everyone does well on caffeine, so if that sounds like you then you might want to look at those nootropics that comprise a cocktail of adaptogens within their ingredients list instead. Herbal energy enhancers such as ginseng and ginkgo biloba offer a gentler lift.
The right ingredients for the job
The right nootropic for you will depend largely on the ingredients list – most contain a blend, so be sure to do your research before you buy to work out which is the best pick for your needs. Adaptogens such as reishi, chaga and lion’s mane mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular inclusions within natural and herbal medicines, and have been shown to enhance cognitive performance, while flowering plant rhodiola can help to increase your attention span and keep you fully focused on what you’re doing for longer without allowing distractions to take over – as well as improving mood and, potentially, helping to reduce stress.
The bottom line
Unlike many pharmaceutical and prescription medications, the beauty of nootropics is that side-effects are limited. Comprised of natural, plant-based ingredients, they are considered safe for most people to take – but be sure to consult with a medical professional to determine any possible interactions with your current medications before you set out on your journey to improved focus.
Head over to FitnessBrain.co.uk for a round-up of some of the best high-end nootropics on the market today.