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Trade talk with HŪF Design: Boost your brain power


In the run up to a long awaited total knee replacement, Emma Lawton from HŪF Design considers how health affects productivity in the work place.

Many entrepreneurs work gruelling hours to get results, forgetting to take time for themselves and their family.


Running a business can be extremely stressful and if you don’t look after yourself, you will get burn out and there will be no one to run the company. Arianna Huffington has a lot to say about this in her book Thrive in which she implores us to slow down, reflect, relish each moment, unplug devices and do good.

6 ways to unplug and eliminate stress:

  1. Devoting some time every week to a hobby will help you to switch off and escape.
  2. Relax your muscles by stretching, having a massage, taking a hot shower.
  3. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and promotes a state of calmness.
  4. Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, prayer, music or just going for a walk are great ways to take a break.
  5. Talking about your problems will help you manage stress so long as the message is positive.
  6. Identify and eliminate or reduce your biggest stress triggers.


Poor nutrition has been linked to absenteeism in the workplace, illness, low morale and ineptitude. It’s all too easy to skip lunch, or opt for fast food meals but it’s also easy to pre-prepare a nutritious meal that is part of a diet full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein.


Too little sleep has an adverse effect on our performance. Attention, memory, problem solving and mood all suffer. It also affects our health, increasing the risk of inflammation and chronic disease. Poor quality sleep (too little and too much) prompts the liver to increase levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

When we’re tired it’s hard to resist the temptation of sugary snacks to give us an energy boost. Unsurprisingly, therefore, poor sleep has been linked with a higher body mass index and a downward spiral into poor nutrition.


Making exercise part of your daily routine alleviates depression, maintains a healthy central nervous system and helps the body fight off disease and inflammation. Cardio vascular exercise improves memory and cognition and is a good mood enhancer whilst endurance exercises release hormones in the brain that support the development of new brain cells and have metabolic and anti-aging effects.


I can assure you that this isn’t all medical mumbo jumbo. Just after I set up HŪF Design I contracted an infection in my knee. I was in hospital for two weeks, had emergency surgery and was on intravenous antibiotics at home every day for six weeks after that. I haven’t been able to walk unaided properly since then. I’m not fishing for your sympathy (honest!) – I want to back up what I’m saying from my own real life experience.

In the beginning I was determined that I would make a full recovery and I had physiotherapy and went to the gym where I could exercise in a controlled environment. It took quite a long time to return to the stables although nothing will keep my away from my lovely, opinionated, old lady, Adagio.

At the time, I didn’t appreciate the benefits going to the gym was bringing me. As time went on and there seemed to be no improvement in my knee, there seemed no point in continuing the gym so I stopped going.

The result was profound. I started comfort eating, put on a lot of weight and became very lethargic. My knee became more painful and stiff and I started losing confidence. I had problems sleeping. My brain felt like it was full of cotton wool and I lacked motivation. Work started to suffer and I found it difficult to stay focussed.

A New Hope

Then earlier this year I was given a date for a total knee replacement. After three years I have hope! Determined to make the most of this opportunity I cut out all the junk and started eating healthily again. I also rejoined the gym. KABOOM! It was like someone had flicked a switch. After just a few weeks I have much more energy and my brain is firing on all cylinders again.

As an entrepreneur it is crucial to lead a healthy lifestyle otherwise productivity and performance will fall and your business will suffer. I have been astounded by the impact returning to a healthy regime has had and would urge everyone to boost their brain power, reduce their stress, enhance their mood and improve their performance by prioritising their wellbeing.


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