Health Tips to Increase Productivity
Jovanka Ciares, WE NYC Mentor
Jovanka Ciares - Wellness Smackdown

Life as an entrepreneur is all about hustle. As you work hard to make an impact, paying attention to your diet and wellness practices may fall by the wayside.

You might think that because you're still young and healthy, you’ll put off taking time to care for your body until you get that next investment, close that big deal, or reach your annual sales goal. If you're anything like me, you might devote a few hours to self-care every few months – or when you don’t have a choice in the matter (flu, anyone?)

Yet, as your most important business tool, your health is non-negotiable. After all, you can’t run a business, handle deadlines, take important clients out for dinner and take care of your family if you’re too sick to move.

As you work hard to make an impact, paying attention to your diet and wellness practices may fall by the wayside.

Jovanka Ciares

Even if you agree that wellness and self-care practices must be an important part of your life, how do you incorporate them into your crazy routine to help you increase productivity and efficiency? Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Embrace herbs that help you focus
I’m not talking about caffeine or 5-hour Energy, which can disrupt your adrenals, increase acidity and reduce productivity in the long run. Instead, think about herbs that have been used for centuries and are known to be mild yet effective in increasing focus and productivity:

  • Ashwagandha - A popular herb used in Ayurveda (Indian/eastern medicine) to promote mental clarity and cognitive function. It boosts memory and supports the immune system. It is also great at helping you manage stressful situations and reduce anxiety and protects the brain from cell deterioration.
  • Brahmi - One of the most popular herbs for rejuvenating the brain and nervous system. It helps you improve mental function, retain new information and improve capacity for attention and focus. (Don’t confuse this with Gotu Kola, which is a different herb.)
  • Tulsi - This is one of my personal favorites, as it helps oxygenate the brain and improves circulation to all parts of the body. It is also known for improving feelings of well-being and calmness.

Focus on the breath
There’s a simple hack to trick your brain into reducing stress, increasing levels of serotonin and other happy hormones and increasing focus and productivity: breathing.

Deep, conscious breathing moves your brain away from that fight-or-flight state and into a relaxed state where oxygenated blood can get to all parts of your brain for extended periods of time. Simply count to four as you breathe in, hold for a count of five and breathe out for a count of seven. Repeat five times. You can do this as many times as needed throughout the day.

Include your wellness routine on your to-do list
The easiest way to incorporate self-care practices into your routine is to include them in your daily plan or agenda. Your health and well-being must be high on your priority list so you treat them with the importance they deserve. For example, if you want to start cooking more or making green smoothies in the morning, add those activities to your calendar.

If you want to remember to take your supplements daily, bring them to your desk so they are visible at all hours of the day. If you plan on working out tomorrow, make sure it appears at the top of tomorrow’s to-do list.

Use essential oils 
This is an excellent way to cut through the fogginess of mental fatigue and boost your energy. I use and recommend the following essential oils to help when energy is scarce (I just put a drop on my neck, wrist or in between my eyebrows).

  • Peppermint stimulates the mind and is often used to improve concentration and boost energy.
  • Basil is a great herb to help reduce mental fatigue. If the essential oil is food-grade (can be ingested), add a couple of drops to a glass of water instead of putting it on your skin.
  • Rosemary is also known to increase mental clarity, keep emotions balanced and provide bursts of energy when needed.

Use a standing desk
Studies from the American Cancer Society and the American Journal of Epidemiology have found that women who sit for six or more hours of the day have a higher risk of illness and premature death. Your body is designed to move. A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with preventable conditions like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression.

The easiest way to take care of your body while maintaining high levels of productivity on those crazy long workdays is by working standing up. I have a desk extension that allows me to lift my entire workstation with a simple click.

I stand for 35 to 45 minutes of every hour. When my feet start to get tired, I sit back down. This is also a great way to give myself mini-deadlines (working in 45-minute bursts) that have increased my productivity significantly in the last six months.

Small actions can have big consequences for improving your overall health and productivity. I encourage you to incorporate just a few of these tips into your daily routine and observe the effects on your body, your mind and your work.