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Unwinding anxiety with self-care, magnesium and healing foods

What does the latest science say about shifting practices to invoke greater calm into your life and space? These expert tips will help lighten the load.
A young white woman in warm pajamas sits on the bed of her cozy house, looking out the window with her back to the camera while in a dim room.

Have an anxiety disorder or overwhelmed by the (maddening) state of the world? We're here to help with the latest science on how to ease anxiety + encourage calm self-growth.

Scroll for tips on reframing resolutions, new studies on magnesium’s calming effects + foods that soothe nerves. Then, keep going for updates on blood donation, dangerous energy shots + how to avoid the current viral nightmare.

Breathe in... breathe out... and...

  • The Checkup: easing up for self-care
  • Un-nervy: resolutions + magnesium + eats
  • Healthcare: blood + we’re all sick + tianeptine

The Checkup

Unresolved anxiety tips

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Are resolutions triggering your anxiety? Let’s resolve to not let that happen!

According to the NY Times, most of us don’t complete resolutions anyway. Dive into the article for details. But here's a summary of expert tips for turning focus away from anxiety and onto self-kindness + confidence.

Confront one fear. A form of exposure therapy, ask yourself how anxiety is holding you back from the life you want. Then, chart out small steps to get a little closer to that life.

Focus on your value. What kind of person do you want to be, anxiety aside? Can you focus on being a good friend, an ambitious employee or something else so that anxiety has less power over you?

Reflect on catastrophizing. In Hi, Anxiety, author Kat Kinsman says, “One of the unexpected benefits of being scared of everything is that very few of these things turn out to be as awful as you imagine they will be.” Think of one time you catastrophized in 2023. Did that scenario come true? Jot down learnings + refer to your list when you start doomsday-ing.

Craft a self-care response. How can you self-soothe during a period of heightened anxiety? Will a walk, treat or chat with a friend counter it? Make an active plan to do that thing the next time your anxiety flares. (This can help anyone with a chronic illness.)

The 411 on magnesium for anxiety

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According to The Guardian, half of us aren't getting enough magnesium from the foods we eat. And some research suggests that lack may contribute to chronic anxiety.

In one paper, 50% of reviewed studies showed ample magnesium had a positive effect on anxiety. Why?

Magnesium helps our body produce enzymes that create serotonin + melatonin, which have calming effects. It may also protect our brain by supporting proteins that encourage learning + memory. Magnesium supplements are generally safe. But bulk up on magnesium-rich foods for a gentle approach.

Read the article for specifics or...

Eat your way to calm

Close up photo of a woman with brown skin wearing a tan shirt preparing a breakfast smoothie.

As reported in the Washington Post, some research shows that the foods we eat can improve mood + brain function while reducing symptoms of anxiety.

One theory suggests that, because the vagus nerve starts in the brain and ends in the digestive tract, we can confuse physical processes with emotional anxiety. Another points out that serotonin is produced in the intestines. So digestive health directly supports mental health.

Here are a few foods magnesium-rich foods from the article to get you started:

  • Extra-dark chocolate. Rich in iron and polyphenols, cocoa can boost mood + discourage anemia (which increases anxiety risk). 
  • Avocados. Teeming with fiber, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium, do we need more reasons to love this healthy-fat food?!
  • Green tea. High in antioxidants including L-theanine, Japanese researchers found green tea reduces stress-related anxiety. (Don’t drink too much, as caffeine can encourage anxiety.)

Healthcare 411

Red Cross declares an emergency blood shortage, as number of donors hits 20-year low (NPR). Experts warn that blood donations could worsen as donors cancel appointments because of respiratory illness. One car accident victim can need 100 blood units. Hospitals were at a 7,000 unit shortfall between Christmas and New Year's Day. Head to the Red Cross to find a life-saving blood drive near you.

Yes, everyone is sick right now. So what can you do about it? (Vox). We're at “above baseline” doctor visits for colds + sore throats. Covid-19, flu + RSV hospitalizations are ahead of winter peak schedules. Covid-19 mortalities hover around 1,500 weekly, the most fatal of the three. Young people + those with no prior health conditions are getting sicker, too. Read the article for safety tips. Paxlovid can reduce hospitalization by 50% for those at high risk. Learn more about Paxlovid’s current cost in this Dr. B article or start a $15 Covid consultation to get a Paxlovid prescription online.

‘Gas-station heroin’ sold as dietary supplement alarms health officials (NY Times). Tianeptine can easily be found in liquid shots marketed to improve mood, focus, opioid use disorder + more. But it's not approved by the FDA as a dietary supplement. Overdose symptoms include nausea, seizures, low blood pressure, clamminess, severe stomach cramps, loss of consciousness and death.

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