It is hard to believe that it is already November! Fall is in full swing and the holiday season is fast approaching. For many of us, the holidays bring the excitement of wonderful new memories waiting to be created. However, they can also bring added stress and anxiety as we add even more items to our “to do” lists. For lives that are already swamped with obligations and activities, the holidays can often mean overload. While preparing the ultimate Thanksgiving meal or finding the perfect gift for all those on your list, it’s important to remember to keep your mental and physical health as a priority as well.
Stress can seem to hit like a freight train, but there are easy and affordable steps you can take to send it packing. As stressors come at you like darts to a dartboard, cortisol rises and your body kicks into “fight or flight” mode. Excess cortisol builds up and contributes to anxiety, exhaustion, brain fog, memory loss, loss of concentration, insomnia, dementia, depression and other mental disorders. Magnesium is an important player in regulating cortisol levels and calming the nervous system. Another important player in the stress game is GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA’s job is to slow brain activity. Low levels of GABA creates stress as it becomes very difficult for the brain to slow down enough to relax. Magnesium binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, creating proper balance.
Those experiencing stress and anxiety may also suffer with depression. The holidays can bring up all kinds of feels, not all of which are good. Magnesium is an important component in regulating mood. It is vital in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin. Known as the “happy hormone,” serotonin helps regulate mood, sleep, memory, perception, and even appetite. Low magnesium levels may contribute to low serotonin levels creating the open floodgate to depression rushing in as well as anxiety, headaches, panic attacks, and insomnia. It is no wonder that magnesium has been known as “nature’s valium” as one study cites that magnesium is as powerful as antidepressants in alleviating depression.
It has also been shown that supplementing magnesium increases the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders. As magnesium is one of the only nutrients known to increase neuroplasticity, (the ability for the brain to heal, rejuvenate new cells, and create new neural pathways), the increased effectiveness may be the brain’s ability to rewire itself and quell the anxiety.
Magnesium is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation system wide is incredibly dangerous and the brain is no exception. Inflammation in the brain has been indicated in many disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, substance abuse, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
The holidays can lead to less sleep. From staying up later than normal for get-togethers, apprehension surrounding family matters, or money concerns, sleep deprivation is not only a huge contributor to stress and anxiety, but it can also contribute to cardiovascular disease and other serious conditions. Magnesium is an important soldier in the fight on these fronts and more.
On top of all the obligations added to our calendars, holiday busyness and parties often make it more difficult to maintain a healthy diet. While conventional farming, soil depletion, and many prescription drugs (over 200!) contribute to low magnesium levels in general, added stress, unhealthy eating, and increased alcohol consumption can deplete it even further becoming a vicious cycle.
As we head into the holidays, you can make your mind and body happy by the simple decision to start supplementing magnesium now. This one small act can arm you with what your body needs for getting through the season with grace and health!