How COVID is Effecting Your Career
Most of you reading this are knowledge workers. You use your mind to create value, and this is how you provide for yourself.
The health of your mind is, therefore, incredibly important. Any cognitive decline, brain fog, or mental illness can have detrimental effects on your work quality and career in the long term.
This is why it is crucial for you to understand the things that can have a negative impact on your brain health and what you can do about them.
I've noticed that there has been yet another wave of COVID recently, and in general, it has been a rough January for many.
If you had COVID this month or suspected it, you may have noticed higher rates of anxiety, brain fog, cognitive decline, or even just a general feeling of burnout.
Although the brain is incredibly complex, there is one mechanism that you have control over that may be causing this.
It may feel strange to consider that a virus is impacting your psychological state, but this is well known.
If you haven't been thinking of your brain health and your performance at work in a holistic way, then I encourage you to start now, because often the fastest and easiest ways to boost performance are based on what most people would consider physical health.
In graduate school, one of my interests was the emerging field of nutritional psychology, which examines how the food you eat impacts your mental health.
You may be thinking, "What does leadership and performance coaching have to do with brain health?"
Well, in many ways, everything.
In order to have the career you want, you need to be cognitively sharp and have optimal mental health.
If you have experienced any signs of cognitive decline, brain fog, or unusual anxiety this month, you may have some psychological symptoms of COVID.
One of the reasons for this is that COVID causes a depletion of tryptophan in our bodies.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is required to produce serotonin in our bodies. We do not have any way of producing this amino acid and therefore must consume it through food.
As many of you know, serotonin is implicated in many mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Yet we know it has numerous processes it influences in the body. To be honest, we actually don't understand serotonin, and there is a lot of competing research.
Tryptophan insufficiency can result in neuropsychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, impulsiveness, difficulty concentrating, poor dream recall, insomnia, and low serotonin levels.
If you struggle with any of these then there is actually an incredibly simple test you can do to see if tryptophan deficiency is causing cognitive issues for you.
For a week, focus on eating tryptophan-rich foods such as salmon, chicken, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, and edamame.
As more research comes out around COVID and its impact on brain health, we may all benefit from implementing protocols to combat the deficiencies COVID creates in our bodies.
This is something that has been working for me this week, as I noticed last week I was experiencing unusual brain fog (apologies if last week's Monday motivation was incoherent).
If you try the tryptophan diet for brain health, let me know if you see improvements, I would love to know what your results are.
And remember, with any diet, you don't need to be perfect, the goal is to just focus on increasing tryptophan-rich foods.
Lastly, as always, I'm not an MD so make sure to ask your doctor about diet changes if you have concerns.
I know typically this newsletter doesn't focus on nutrition and its role in performance, but right now I think this might be the most effective thing you can do for your performance.