Q: I have a lot of trouble focusing at work, especially in the afternoon. I’ve tired coffee, but the caffeine makes me jittery and just makes things worse. Is there something I could try instead?
A: When you feel your energy levels start to dip, we recommend sipping a cup of peppermint tea for an instant hit of pep, then savoring a square of dark chocolate to stay focused for hours.
How it works: Scientists from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Center in Chicago discovered that the aroma of peppermint stimulates the alertness center of the brain, an effect that can increase energy levels by 23 percent in just two minutes. Meanwhile, dark chocolate is rich in theobromine, a compound that kick-starts the production of the focus-boosting hormone dopamine.
The payoff: Researchers at Harvard have found that theobromine improves mental energy and focus for up two-and-a-half hours to get through that that afternoon slump.