According to the Flordis research, the priority for Australians is general physical health, with 92 per cent of respondents focusing on exercise – more than half (63 per cent) committing to intense physical activity and almost all (94 per cent) undertaking low intensity physical activity each week.
'While physical exercise is key for cognitive health,1 we also need to specifically invest time in loving our minds to make a greater difference to our quality of life as we age. 85 per cent of people recognise activities such as brain training are important, but only 16 per cent will dedicate half an hour or more to these activities each day on average.
'It only takes simple changes to make a big impact on cognitive health – but it is a long-term commitment. Pick up some brain training exercises for your commute, take up meditation, have a go at that hobby you've always wanted to try or go to that photography or sculpting course.
'From our research, we also know that for most people (55 per cent), natural medicines are a consideration for maintaining cognitive health and mental sharpness at all stages of life, with 42 per cent currently taking supplements for this reason," Lewis said.
The majority (59 per cent) of Australians waste more than an hour on average each working day due to lack of focus or concentration – that's approximately six hours a week per employee gone and collectively, almost 23,000 years lost each month across the country – according to new research commissioned by Flordis, a Soho Flordis International (SFI) brand.
The survey of 1,500 locals also uncovered that only a quarter (23 per cent) believe they tap into the full potential of their mind at least once a day.
Liisa Lewis, Global Marketing Manager – Cognitive Health at Flordis said: 'In this hyper-connected world, our brains are constantly whirring, but our research shows that for many people (42 per cent), sustained concentration is a challenge. We all want sharper focus, concentration and memory, but we're not actively working to improve cognitive health."
'In fact, despite the rise of the mindfulness movement, 44 per cent of people said they never practice mindfulness techniques and over a third (36 per cent) don't dedicate any time to learning new skills. This is despite research showing practicing these helps engage cognitive skills, mental sharpness and concentration to support cognitive health over time," said Lewis.
It would seem, however, that Australians do have time to spare, with seven in 10 (68 per cent) revealing they have four or more hours each week of -downtime', and almost half of these respondents (a third of the total population) having 10 or more hours.
Lewis noted that when it comes to research on natural medicines in this area, a specific extract of Bacopa monnieri, referred to as CDRI 08®, is shown to have a positive effect on memory, concentration and learning retention.
Not all natural medicines are created equal however, and can vary considerably depending on how they are produced and the ingredients used, meaning it's important for consumers to do their research to find clinical evidence for claims, or talk to their healthcare professional
'Our minds are amazing. But it takes work to keep them that way. Pick up that crossword or start speaking the language you've always wanted to learn. Make the time to love your mind," said Lewis. For more information on Flordis and the research, visit flordis.com.au.
Question: Are you surprised at the results of the Flordis research, such as 'unfocussed minds are costing the economy $42 billion each year"?
Liisa Lewis: It's not surprising we're all finding it harder than ever to focus and concentrate. We're constantly surrounded by distractions and interruptions, and we're all trying to do our best to get as much done as quickly as possible. It's not until you quantify just how many hours we lose every day and total that up across the population that we realise how significant the impact lack of focus is having on us personally and collectively. And that is surprising.
Question: How are Australians wasting more than an hour on average each working day?
Liisa Lewis: It can be easy to lose time in this hyper-connected, always on world, where technology allows us to have everything at our fingertips every second, of every day. It's limitless, enticing, and full of distractions – before you even know it, you're down a rabbit hole!
We are also constantly multitasking and filtering, conditioning our brains to focus on things for micro moments of time rather than productive long periods. Add to that hours of sitting, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and sleep troubles, and we're bound to tune out!
Question: How can we regain our focus or concentration?
Liisa Lewis: Balanced diets, exercise and getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a night are all key to helping prep your body and mind for a good day of focus and concentration. But beyond this, there are a lot of simple tricks that can help.
For example, try limiting your multitasking impulse – focus on one thing at a time, and eliminate distractions to be 100 per cent present. You can also try taking yourself away from your current space for five minutes of meditation or a calming walk around the block, and start training your brain to focus on things for longer periods like reading, learning a new skill such as photography. From the Flordis research, natural supplements are also a key consideration to help improve focus and concentration. All of these small things can add up and really make a difference in improving focus.
Question: How can we tap into our full potential, every day? How can we invest in our minds?
Liisa Lewis: You can truly tap into your full potential every day by challenging or focusing your mind – even if it's just a couple of hours a week spent trying something new, such as testing a recipe.
You can also download a mindfulness app and practice 10-15 minutes a day, pick up some brain training activities that trigger the mind, or listen to a TED Talk to open up your thinking.
Trying an evidence-based natural supplement for cognitive health could also help. Be sure though to do your homework or talk to your healthcare professional to find one that is clinically proven such as one which contains the CDRI 08 extract of Bacopa monnieri as it's been researched for over 40 years and is shown to support focus, concentration and memory.
Question: What are your 15 tips to help support cognitive health, every day at any age?
Liisa Lewis: 1. Try to maintain regular sleep patterns as alternating between minimal zzzs and marathon sessions can impact on concentration and creativity levels
2. Add Marmite! Eating a spoonful a day can boost a vital neuronal chemical
3. Drink red wine in moderation can help protect neurons, and you don't need to put down that third cuppa – three to five cups of coffee a day has been shown to reduce cognitive decline (by 65 per cent)
4. Eat more fruits, nuts, and vegetables – they're positively associated with cognitive ability
5. Investigate a natural supplement that has been linked to a positive effect on memory, concentration and learning retention measures. Research has found the specific extract of Bacopa monnieri, referred to as CDRI 08® supports cognitive function
6. Get outdoors and see the sun! Vitamin D has been shown to help maintain a healthy mind as you age
7. Experience new cultures and interact with people of different age groups, or try volunteering. Doing this once a week can help decrease the risk of cognitive complaints
8. Physical exercise is important too. Participate in aerobic exercises, such as walking, at least three times a week
9. Step-up at work and try taking on leadership role or hit the books and return to study to stretch your thinking
10. Learning a new language can also help keep the mind sharp and efficient – and will come in handy when you go on your next holiday
11. Doodle on a piece of paper. Research shows that drawing while you listen to an instruction improves memory as it keeps the brain stimulated.
12. Listen to your favourite songs to activate areas in your brain that are responsible for memory. Research shows learning can be improved by absorbing information through both visual and auditory channels.
13. Question everything – focus on the reasoning behind the information
14. Develop new skills and actively learn16 by writing (taking notes, highlighting), speaking (asking questions, explaining things to others) and creating your own meaning (making up your own reminders)
15. Do your most important thinking and any learning between 11am to 9.30pm, and study over a steady period of time rather than in short bursts to help with retention
16. Hone your focus! Complete tasks one at a time as opposed to multi-tasking
Interview by Brooke Hunter