Magnesium for Stress and Anxiety
Are You Feeling Stressed?
Have you ever been told to just “calm down”? We all have. I bet it bugs you as much as it bugs me. Usually I hear it when I’m experiencing stress and anxiety. Calming down isn’t as easy as it sounds.
We all feel anxiety and stress from time to time, but what do those words actually mean?
Anxiety is defined as fear or nervousness of what might happen, while stress is described as physical, mental or emotional strain or tension. The literal meanings of the words seem so simple, but everyone knows that the experience is complicated and obviously there can be a lot of overlap. There are times when you can’t even put your feelings or the cause of them into words. The severity of these strains can range from annoying or frustrating to downright crippling.
The most important distinction between stress and anxiety is that stress is caused by an outside factor (or ‘stressor’), where anxiety can persist even once all stressors have been removed or even when none were present to begin with. Another way to think about it is that anxiety is a form of stress, one characterized by a feeling of impending doom.
Stress and anxiety are emotionally and even physically draining, but we all experience them at some level of intensity, at some point. You probably can’t avoid feeling stressed or anxious altogether, but you can be proactive so that you can cope with these strains rather than feeling their weight on your shoulders… and everywhere else.
Many of us feel normal anxiety when we’re facing the stress of an important event such as a job interview or an exam, or when we perceive some sort of danger or threat.
When we think that we may be in danger, stress is a useful response because it activates a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. For example, it gives us the blood flow and muscular responsiveness to dodge out of the way of a moving vehicle. Unfortunately, more often than not, stress leads to anxiety in response to something that is not actually dangerous, such as giving a speech or having an interview.
Some people may perceive certain situations to be more dangerous than they actually are, as with a fear of flying. In other cases, past experience may lead to a fear of something happening again. For example, a dog bite could make a person anxious around dogs (or even the idea of dogs).
Most anxiety is occasional and mild, however people with anxiety disorders experience anxiety more frequently, with more intensity and for much longer periods of time.
Anxiety disorders cause unexpected and extreme anxiety that seriously impacts lives, including how sufferers think, feel and act. Anxiety is indicative of a disorder when sensations and symptoms impede and interfere with a person’s normal lifestyle.
Anxiety disorders can cause distress that prevents a person from having a normal life. For people with clinical anxiety, worry and fear can be constant and overwhelming. Depending on the severity of the issue these feelings can be paralyzing.
There are various forms of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Clinical anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can lead to many different sensations, which may be different for different people at different times. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms can vary also. Remember, stress is when you experience these feelings in response to a particular stressor. Anxiety is felt even in the absence of those stressors, whether they are in the future, the past or may never have existed at all.
Some symptoms may include:
- problems falling or staying asleep
- cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- shortness of breath, gasping for air
- heart palpitations or a racing heart
- dry mouth
- numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- aches and pains
How you think and react in certain situations can affect your stress levels and anxiety, as well as the severity of your symptoms. Acting in an overly apprehensive manner can actually create the physiological, psychological and emotional feeling of anxiety.
Possible Causes of Anxiety
Though there are no exact reasons why anxiety occurs, there are certain factors that can contribute to it. Uncertain and uneasy behaviour can cause feelings of anxiety if left unchecked. You’ll notice in the list below that most of the triggers for anxiety are forms of stress.
These are just some of the things that can contribute to anxiety:
- stress related to personal relationships, such as marriage or divorce
- health concerns or serious medical issues
- financial stress
- stress related to schoolwork or an upcoming exam
- workplace or job stress
- side effects from medications
- hormonal changes, including premenstrual stress or menopause
- mental illness
- stress from a natural disaster
- social pressure or problems, such as bullying
- mineral deficiency
Magnesium: your secret anxiety weapon
Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 700 metabolic processes in the body. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency may contribute to numerous mental health problems, including anxiety.
Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It regulates the nervous system and may help you cope with stress so as to prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. Magnesium is also very protective of your heart and arteries, which is important for anyone experiencing regular anxiety.
During periods of extreme stress, magnesium is used in greater quantities by the body. Magnesium naturally calms our muscular and nervous systems, which is why people often experience muscle cramping when they are magnesium deficient. This is a physical analogy for the emotional experience of anxiety. When a person experiences anxiety symptoms or has an anxiety attack, it may actually be because they’re magnesium deficient.
The stress of an anxiety attack further depletes the body of this mineral as well; it can be a never-ending cycle.
If you want to know more about how to spot a magnesium deficiency, check out our recent post on the signs and symptoms, here.
Magnesium supplementation is unlikely to cure anxiety, however, many people do find it very effective alone or in combination with other strategies since anxiety can be due in whole or in part, to mag deficiency.
How to Get Your Magnesium
There are foods you can eat that are high in magnesium. These include:
- brown rice
- soy beans
- leafy greens
Though eating magnesium-rich foods is beneficial (and those foods all have other nutritional benefits too of course!), it’s also recommended that you take a magnesium supplement to ensure your daily magnesium levels are up to par. Our EASE Magnesium is a perfect solution. Just spray and go.
Think you might be magnesium deficient? Check out our blog post for some common causes of magnesium deficiency.
Natural Treatments vs. Prescriptions for Anxiety
Have you been trying to relieve your anxiety with a glass of wine or a beer? Learn more about how that could be making the problem worse. Alcohol, caffeine, excessive use of salt and sugar can seriously deplete your magnesium stores, making a big problem even worse. So what can you do to feel better?
Many people prefer natural treatments for anxiety, for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, prescription medications do not CURE the problem, they simply mask it. Natural treatments give you the opportunity to relieve your anxiety without dependency or side effects. That being said, you should of course talk to your doctor if you are experiencing anxiety that is affecting your ability to function or if you’re having dangerous thoughts. Natural remedies can often be used in conjunction with prescription medications.
Here are a few suggestions for other ways you can reduce anxiety without medications:
- making time each day for fun and relaxation
- ensuring you’re getting the emotional support you need
- taking care of your body (healthy diet and regular exercise)
- not overloading yourself with tasks and responsibilities
- asking for help when you need it
If your lifestyle is unhealthy and stressful, you’re more likely to feel anxious, regardless of whether or not you have an anxiety disorder. Take some time to evaluate how well you are caring for yourself and make necessary changes.
If your stress levels are exceedingly high, think about how you can bring your life back into balance. There may be responsibilities and duties you can give up, turn down or delegate to other people. If you’re feeling unsupported or even isolated, find someone you trust to confide in and talk to them about it. Just talking about your worries and stress can often make them seem less frightening and more manageable.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially during stressful periods. However, excessive or ongoing anxiety that interferes with your day-to-day activities may be a sign of an anxiety disorder and you should consult your physician.
Take care of your body, listen to it. If you feel like stress is negatively affecting your day to day life or that your anxiety is getting out of control, seek help.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Click here to take an easy first step towards relieving the stress and anxiety that’s keeping you up at night.