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What is biohacking?

There’s no escaping the tidal wave of self care tips, flooding our social media feeds, filling our inboxes and the pages of our favourite magazines. And while it’s all very well and good, working towards a ‘better you’ and a ‘better life’, you’d be forgiven for wondering if all these different methods are just overcomplicating something very simple, really. 

Now there’s a new buzzword in town: Biohacking. It sounds like something from the future and, admittedly, a little terrifying. But in actual fact, it’s just a new ‘system-thinking’ approach to understanding, and working with, our own biology. It’s about figuring out what makes you feel well, mentally and physically, and how to embrace the sensory gifts and easy tips that essentially bring us back to the way we’re supposed to be.

It’s very straightforward, so long as you’re willing to readdress the way you might ordinarily live your life, and all comes down to knowing that what we put into our body (be that music, food, water, air, external stimuli such as what we watch on TV or read in books) is entirely what dictates the way we feel.

Ready to bio-hack your life? It’s easy. Here’s how to get started:

Eat Yourself Well

Food has to be the most direct path to altering our physical and mental state. If we drink a strong cup of coffee, we get an instant energy boost. If we drink plenty of fresh water, almost every aspect of our wellbeing improves. If you eat lots of processed sugar, you’re likely to get ill and gain weight. 

We instinctively know this already. There’s no shying away from it – the benefits (and detriments) are clear mere moments after the food or drink you choose to consume passes your lips. Yet many of us still struggle to eat what’s best for us. We’re so used to quick-fixes (caffeine, fast-food, tobacco, alcohol…) that we feel reliant on them. And to make matters worse, we now know that many of these more harmful ‘food’ sources are addictive! 

Aside from the fact that we are aware food fuels our every move, we’re also presented with the very well established gut-brain connection. 

All of our neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) begin in the gut, and these influence everything from sleep patterns to mood and attention, to fertility. When we eat foods that don’t agree with us, whether that’s something inflammatory by nature (like sugar) or something we have a unique intolerance to, that triggers inflammation in the gut which then stops our bodies (and minds) working properly.

So, the biohacking solution is simple: 

  • Eat healthy, wholesome food
  • Reduce sugar
  • Drink water
  • Avoid food sensitivities

And if you want to kick it up a gear, bring in natural supplements like CBD, nootropics and adaptogens.

Re-wild Yourself

Our forgotten connection with nature is one of the most harmful things about modern life. Sunlight is a key part of our nutrition, providing the best source of vitamin D (which is actually a vital hormone in the human body). Filling our lungs with fresh oxygen, particularly in an area densely populated with trees, can instantly reinvigorate and de-stress. And just being around (and working with) plants has been shown to boost immune system function, increase energy and focus, accelerate healing and act as a natural antidepressant. 

In the words of Zen writer and speaker, Alan Watts: 

"You didn't come into this world.
You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here." 

Reconnect with the wild world around you.

Challenge Yourself

Despite how it may feel at the moment, humans are built to thrive in the face of challenges – acts of real resilience that require intense focus, allowing us to enter our ‘flow state’ which is essential for mental processing. 

Today, most of the challenges we come up against are not the sort we need. Looming deadlines, the stress of isolation, trying to work from home while the kids run wild around the house don’t count! But introducing challenges like training for a marathon, taking a cold shower each day, or playing a tricky game like chess can give you the challenge you need to kick your mind and body into its most efficient working state. Another biohacking solution!

Soothe Your Senses

Considering touch, sight, sound, smell and taste is a major element of biohacking. These senses (and how they are put to use) affect our wellbeing tremendously. 

Your brainwaves (and potentially your whole being) are altered by sound, so introduce some binaural beats into your daily routine. The kind of light you surround yourself with makes a huge difference too – natural light is always best, so try and mimic that (along with the transition of it through the day) to keep yourself in line with nature. 

Any activities which help to activate and ease your senses, like meditation, are key to biohacking, so use these whenever you can.