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    Recently, there’s been a surge in interest in alternative or holistic self-care methods that support mental health and emotional well-being. There’s no shortage of advice promoting traditional and nontraditional means of enhancing your mental health, but it can be hard to determine what’s real and what’s just hype. In this blog, we’ll analyze three wellness trends that have been gaining a lot of popularity lately: magnesium supplements, cold plunges, and biking to work. We’ll explore the mental health benefits of these practices and analyze some of the claims and evidence behind them. Additionally, we’ll discuss any potential negative effects or unfounded claims linked to these practices.

    Magnesium Supplements

    Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure control. Magnesium supplements have been touted as a natural remedy for anxiety and stress. While there’s some scientific evidence to suggest that magnesium can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce anxiety and stress, more research is needed to confirm these findings. A 2015 study found a significant link between low magnesium intake and depression in adults. Another study published in 2017 found that supplementation with magnesium chloride resulted in significant improvements in depressive symptoms. It can also be good for gut health, inflammation, and joint health. While magnesium supplements are generally considered safe, they can cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping in some people.

    Cold Plunges

    Cold plunges, also known as cold exposure therapy, involve immersing the body in ice-cold water for a short period, typically two to three minutes. Cold plunges have been shown to have a positive impact on mood and anxiety. The cold water triggers the release of adrenaline and dopamine, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the release of endorphins can also improve mood and provide a sense of euphoria. Cold plunges have also been shown to  reduce inflammation and enhance recovery in just two to three minutes daily – which is why they’ve become hugely popular with athletes and people looking to enhance their recovery after workouts. While cold plunges are generally considered safe, they can cause side effects such as hypothermia, frostbite, and shock in some people if you’re not careful about the temperature of the water or the length of time you’re in it. It's important to note that cold plunges are not recommended for everyone. People with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and Raynaud's disease should avoid cold plunges.

    Biking to Work

    Biking to work has been shown to have positive effects on mental health. In a study conducted in Scotland, it was found that people who cycle to work are less likely to be prescribed medication to treat anxiety or depression than those who use different modes of transportation. Biking to work can also reduce stress levels and improve overall mood. Another study conducted in 2023 found that cycling to work was associated with lower levels of perceived stress and better mental well-being. Additionally, cycling to work can boost physical fitness, which is linked to improved mental health outcomes. However, it's important to note that biking to work can be dangerous and accidents can occur. Hence, it's crucial to wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and reflective clothing, and to follow traffic laws and regulations. Moreover, biking to work may not be feasible for everyone, especially those who live far from their workplace or have physical limitations. For those who are unable to safely commute to work by bike, biking for pleasure can still provide similar benefits if done regularly.

    Wellness Trends: Worth the Hype?

    The diver's reflex can instantly calm and help in the continuous fight against anxiety. By understanding the details of this reflex and incorporating it into your daily routine, you can benefit from the relaxation induced by water and work towards a more peaceful and balanced mental state. When faced with moments of panic or heightened anxiety, activating this reflex involves immersing the face in cold water for 30 seconds, triggering a decrease in heart rate and a redistribution of blood flow. This phenomenon is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system, which counteracts the hyper-alert state induced by the sympathetic nervous system during moments of anxiety. The blog offers practical alternatives for those who can't go diving, such as using icy water in a bowl, cold towels, or even splashing cold water on the face. By understanding and harnessing the diver's reflex, individuals can effectively reset their nervous system, promoting a return to a calmer and more composed state, both physically and emotionally.

    Tracy Hall, LPC

    My name is Tracy Hall and I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia. Before Espyr, I worked for an Atlanta area private practice as well as Atlanta Universities with a focus on working with adults regarding areas such as anxiety, life transitions, and employee-related stressors. I received my master’s degree in...

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