What is the best product to optimize my health?

 

posted by Yasir Hashim

As a start-up founder and a neuroscientist, health and wellness is important to me. Long days and arduous hours of work take a toll on my body and, after a year of working more than twelve hours a day, seven days a week, I began to realize the importance of taking care of my body.

The other day I was asked a question that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve personally struggled with this particular topic, so I thought I would share my answer here.

“I have anxiety and I’m looking for something to optimize my mental health but there are so many products out there, how do I know which product is the best one?”

We’re primed to think that there is a single solution, medication, or product that will address mental health more broadly. We think what’s new is best, or what everyone else is doing is best.  That is unfortunately not the case.

No two brains are identical. We are all raised in different places at different times and under different circumstances. Our environment and how we interact with it plays a big role in who we are and who we’re going to become. How stressful is your job? Where do you live? How well do you sleep? What does your diet look like? What are some of your daily routines? The questions here are endless and you probably get the point. We all live different lives under different pressures and what works really well for someone else, or the majority of people, may not work at all for you.

I’ve got a friend that is in great physical shape and they excersice regularly, yet their diet is comprised of mainly fast food, and another who eats a healthier diet, but has a difficult time with weight management. One “compensates” for their unhealthy diet with healthy habits and the other has a healthier diet but struggles to control their weight, exercising sparingly. We mistakenly think that a better part of our lives compensates for other parts that are detrimental to our health.

Before optimizing your mental health, or optimizing anything in general, we must have an understanding of where we are now. What parts of our lives are we managing very well and which ones are neglected. The process of optimizing is the pursuit of improving the parts are neglecting. When we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, have a good sleep schedule, and take time for family (vacation, mindfulness or prayer) then we are giving our bodies the best platform to perform.  Only from a clear understanding of where we are now can we move forward and work to optimize.

Before thinking about which product is the best one, think what daily habits can change to improve tension and uneasiness. Should I sleep earlier in the day so that I am well rested? Should I avoid caffeine in the afternoons, drink less caffeine or stop consuming it entirely? Should I take mental breaks whilst at work? Reflect on your life and be conscious of your habits!

You know your body better than anyone else does, you wake up in it every day. Take note of what parts of your life you can change and whether or not they improve your anxiety. They might help a little, a lot, or not at all and that’s ok. It is the process of reflecting, adjusting and then reflecting again in the pursuit of better health that is key. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about yourself.

Once the underlying variables of our lives that create tension have been addressed, we can focus on optimizing and on which product works best.

There isn’t a single right answer here. You know what to do: Ask yourself what it is you’re trying to improve. Be specific. Mental health is great but what is it specifically about your mental health? Wanting to be a more attentive listener is a good example. Now be honest with yourself, have you actually tried before? You’d be surprised how many things we are actually very good at, we just don’t try hard enough. In some cases, our brains are just wired in a way that puts us at a disadvantage. If this is the case, go out and try the new or old supplement or product that claims to improve attention and again be critical of how you feel. Did you find the right one or do you need to try something else? Listen to your body, work with your body and your body will work with you.