Mind & Body

How to feel more calm

So you made it through the holiday season, perhaps with the help of more wine and cocktails than you’d care to admit. But to get back to a clearer state of mind, we need to let go of trigger substances such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Here’s an ABC of the supplements that will help you do it. By LAURA NEILSON



Adaptogens – natural plant compounds believed to help regulate homeostasis in our bodies – have been around for centuries, specifically in traditional Chinese medicine. But many of us are only just wising up to their beneficial properties, especially when it comes to warding off stress and anxiety. “Research has shown that when cells are exposed to stress, adaptogens stimulate the central nervous system to help promote a sense of calm,” says Atlanta-based dietitian and nutritionist Dana Nahai, who reveals the benefits include combating fatigue and depression, and leaving us feeling more settled while still alert.

Rhodiola, ashwagandha, schisandra, panax ginseng and holy basil are the power players to look out for, and are most often available in the form of powders, tinctures and teas. Instead of that second cup of adrenaline-inducing coffee, try a soothing ashwagandha-root tea, or a smoothie blended with Moon Juice’s Brain Dust or Equi London’s Original Formula supplement, both of which contain the dried root.


Increasing your daily intake of B vitamins as a pre-emptive measure is also a smart move towards feeling more mentally grounded and focused. These eight micronutrients, which include thiamin (B1), niacin (B3) and folate (B9), are “critical to brain function, energy production, DNA repair and making the neurochemicals that help moderate our stress response,” explains Nahai.

A plant-based diet is especially beneficial: B vitamins are most effectively absorbed in the form of natural food sources derived from edible plants, such as leafy greens, vegetables and fruit, as well as nuts and seeds. So load up on whatever’s in season at the farmers’ market, but don’t bother juicing: “Our bodies benefit from the natural plant fibers that get removed through juicing, and we risk unhealthy spikes in blood sugar when juices are made from sweet vegetables and fruits,” warns Nahai. In addition to a healthy diet of fresh produce, try Dr Nigma Talib’s B Famous B-vitamin supplement.

C is for CBD

If you’ve been seeing CBD everywhere, you’re not hallucinating: the plant-derived cannabinoid – the non-intoxicating, non-addictive, increasingly legalized cousin of regular marijuana (CBD doesn’t contain the psychoactive THC, which is present in the drug) – is creating a lot of buzz. “Anxiety is one of the main reasons that people use CBD. It’s a natural anti-anxiety agent and does not come with the risks of overdose or dependency,” says Dr Alex Capano, Medical Director at Ananda Hemp.

For best results, Capano suggests using CBD on a consistent, even daily, basis, and in its purest form – typically a liquid extract. Ideally, it should be taken under the tongue to optimize its intake, but make sure you only use brands that are free from chemicals, additives and pesticides and steer clear of the gimmicky products currently flooding the market: “CBD hand soap, for example. It’s not going to hurt you, but it won’t do anything other than clean your hands.”