- Harmful work-related stress is increasing at alarming rates.
- Supplements can help reduce stress and anxiety on the job.
- Five dietary supplements have proven to be especially effective for many workers trying to cope with stress.
Stress has always been a challenge for workers, but recent studies show an alarming rate of extreme stress — especially for Americans. Roughly 33 percent of people report experiencing “extreme stress,” and a whopping 77 percent of people report experiencing stress that negatively affects their physical health.
Similarly, the data on focus and cognition is not encouraging. Specifically, according to Gallop, only 13 percent of employees report being actively engaged at work.
Part of the solution to these salient problems might be joining The Great Resignation — the recent exodus of workers leaving their jobs in pursuit of better work — or perhaps no work at all.
However, that’s much easier said than done. For many of us, staying at a job that results in stress and disengagement is our only option. Therefore, we must cope, but how? Learning how to breathe, exercise, and meditate is a good start, but some of us might be looking for more expedient — but healthy solutions.
And, even for those who have shifted out of traditional modes of work and entered remote work, many report trouble staying focused. Work from home is a wonderful privilege for many, but distractions and maintaining a healthy work/life balance can be constant challenges.
Luckily, there are dietary supplements on the market that can measurably improve stress and cognition, according to promising clinical studies.
Supplements for Reducing Work-Related Stress and Anxiety
Work-related stress and anxiety are exceedingly common, but it’s important to make the distinction here between good and bad stress.
Good stress is the normal tension that accompanies simple tasks. According to the famous Yerkes-Dodson law, such stress can lead to better performance, and the lack of it can lead to poor performance.
For example, have you ever tried to learn an instrument, but reached a plateau? Clearly that would stress you out, but it is the sort of stress that motivates you to work through and overcome the plateau. While most experts have moved beyond this dichotomy, most agree that a moderate amount of this kind of stress is integral to productivity, motivation, and focus.
By contrast, bad stress is when we experience excessive amounts of it, to no greater end. For instance, if your workplace entails a lot of interpersonal conflict, such stress can be detrimental to your performance and overall health –sometimes even leading to anxiety disorders.
Up to a third of the population experiences this type of “bad stress” on a frequent basis, and surely most are searching for ways to cope. Thankfully, there are supplements on the market that may help reduce this unhealthy problem.
An example of an extremely effective supplement for reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety is magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that plays an integral role in how your brain functions.
Up to 75 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diets and research shows that hypomagnesemia (abnormal levels of magnesium in the blood caused by deficiencies) can cause or increase anxiety levels.
In fact, when researchers induce magnesium deficiencies in study participants, this results directly in symptoms of stress and anxiety that are only ameliorated through fixing the deficiency.
If you’re not getting enough magnesium from your diet and are experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety, it is highly recommended that you supplement with at least 350 mg of magnesium once a day.
2. Lavender Extract (Silexan)
Next up on the list is lavender extract, which shouldn’t be surprising, as merely smelling lavender has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress.
However, it is not widely known that supplementing with its extracted form (known as ‘Silexan’) can be as efficacious as SSRIs and benzodiazepines in reducing anxiety and stress, but without the adverse effects of synthetic drugs. What makes lavender a good option, is that the data supporting its efficacy is overwhelmingly positive.
If you’re experiencing signs of anxiety and stress, taking 80-160 mg a day of Silexan lavender extract could help alleviate your symptoms.
Supplements for Reducing Work-Related Reductions in Focus and Cognition
While remote work has brought with it benefits like greater flexibility and more worker autonomy, many have reported that it has taken a toll on their focus and cognition.
Fortunately, the ‘foggy brain’ phenomena doesn’t have to last forever. There are various dietary
supplements supported by peer-reviewed scientific research that can markedly improve your focus and cognition.
3. Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (Alpha-GPC)
Alpha-GPC is composed of two important molecules: choline and glycerophosphate. Choline –commonly found in eggs– is an essential nutrient for brain health and functionality. Glycerophosphate is simply a substance that helps to transport choline to the brain.
Research shows that supplementation with Alpha-GPC increases the activity of a chemical found in the brain called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is used by the brain’s nerves to communicate with one another.
Hence, it makes sense that supplementing with Alpha-GPC improves your ability to focus on complex tasks for longer periods of time and why it might protect against the cognitive decline that accompanies age.
In order to get these effects out of Alpha-GPC, it is recommended that you take 300 mg per day.
4. Avena Sativa
Supplementing with Avena sativa –also known as Oat Straw Extract– has been proven to potentially improve brain functioning in many ways. It can boost cognitive performance, executive function, spatial working memory, learning performance, and reduce the negative effects of multitasking on cognitive performance, such as stress.
In order to reap these benefits from Avena sativa, it is recommended that you take 800 mg per day.
5. Bacopa Monnieri
Probably the most popular on this list of so-called ‘brain-boosting supplements’ is Bacopa Monnieri. Bacopa is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various neurological disorders –primarily memory impairments.
Scientists have verified its utility as a dietary supplement, however. Bacopa has been shown to help neurons in the brain to grow and connect, resulting in the improvement of memory and cognition.
In order to get these benefits out of Bacopa, it’s recommended that you supplement with 300 mg per day.
It is perfectly normal to experience stress and anxiety at work. Nevertheless, coping with these symptoms in excess can be difficult and can even lead to declines in focus and cognition. If you are experiencing work-related stress, anxiety, and issues with focus, these supplements may help – but please do your research first.
Some supplements may result in adverse effects for some people – or when mixed with prescription medication. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist first to make sure they are safe for you.
This is not medical advice. Always check with your medical provider or pharmacist before taking supplements – especially if you have a medical condition or take prescription medications.