Friday, October 23, 2015

Magnesium for Anxiety Reduction and Sounder Sleep(and a giveaway!)

I am a huge proponent of the use of magnesium to help with anxiety reduction and sounder sleep. No supplement/mineral will work for everyone and each individual should talk with their doctor in deciding if magnesium supplementation and transdermal(simply magnesium absorbed through the skin, some studies show that our bodies gather more magnesium via skin versus through diet) use is a good idea for them.

What is magnesium and why is it important?

Magnesium is a vital nutrient that should be found in our body in large amounts. Magnesium is used by your body in many different biochemical reactions. Our ancestors likely kept their magnesium levels high with a steady diet of meat(including organ meats), water that naturally had magnesium in it and vegetables and fruits grown in soil rich with magnesium. In modern times many of us rarely consume organ meat, water processing methods now remove magnesium for our public drinking water and our soil has been depleted of magnesium. The National Institute of Health reports that the recommended daily intake of magnesium for adults is 320-420 mg and the average daily intake in the US is just 250 mg. In addition to the low daily intake of magnesium, stress also causes our bodies to waste magnesium. In our hectic and stressful modern society, I can only imagine that we are wasting magnesium in our bodies at a high rate.

There are many ways that low magnesium can impact the human body. In my personal experience, low magnesium appears to cause depression, anxiety and increased insomnia.

How do I increase my magnesium other than dietary changes?

Epsom Salt Baths

Insomnia is something that I have struggled with since childhood. So, when a friend told me several years ago that she was using epsom salt baths several times per week to increase her magnesium levels for better sleep at the suggestion of her doctor, I decided instantly that I would try it. After all, I loved to soak in the bath with a good book so what did I have to lose?

You can pick up epsom salts online such as at amazon -(Epsoak Epsom Salt 19.75 Lbs - 100% Pure Magnesium Sulfate, Made in USA) - however, you can find it at any drug store or with the over the counter medication in your local grocery store for much cheaper. I don't recommend the scented types as I have yet to find a brand scented with essential oils or other natural scents. I do, however highly recommend adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the epsom salts before putting them in your bath- it just adds to the lovely experience.

For a good epsom soak run your bath water very warm and add a minimum of 2 cups of epsom salts. Soak for a least 20 minutes and hopefully you will be as utterly relaxed as I am after an epsom bath!

Oral Magnesium

I sometimes take oral magnesium at night before bed. It does help me calm down but it does often cause some loose stools, as well(magnesium is also used as a laxative). If you are someone that struggles with constipation, as well, this may be a positive side effect. If not, start with a small dosage to see how your body adapts. I use a brand called Ultra Calm found here- (Natural Vitality Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon 16 oz). I have also tried the generic brand and you can save quite a bit of money that way- I personally found the taste to be terrible on the two generic brands that I tried. I imagine if you added the generic brands to juice instead of water it would be tolerable. 

Magnesium Lotion or Oil

I have not been able to find magnesium oil or lotion in my local area, so I purchase this from amazon. I began using the magnesium oil on my neck and shoulders when I would get tension headaches(which start in my neck). It really helps to relax the muscles and seems to ease the headache, as well. The magnesium oil I use is found here- Magnesium Oil 8 fl oz (237 ml) Liquid. I find that it lasts a very long time.

I started rubbing magnesium oil on my girls' feet before bed to help them sleep(it has been very successful) but they did not like the consistency of the oil so I purchased lotion for them. You can find the type that I used here -(Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion - 8oz Bottle).

After we ran out of the lotion one night, I improvised by adding the magnesium oil to some whipped coconut oil and lavender essential oil and the girls loved it. We did this for several months until I decided to look on Etsy to see if someone was already making a similar product(hey, I'm a working Mom of three- I'll cut corners anyway that I can!)

Low and behold- I found exactly what I was looking for at a cute little shop called Simply Owl Natural. This product is now a standby at my house.

The use of magnesium supplementation has, over time, decreased my anxiety, dramatically decreased my migraines and increased sleep quality for myself and my children. It is something that I recommend everyone research and decide if it would be helpful in your own life. 

Note: I was not paid for my mention of Simply Owl Natural products. All opinions are my own and I am simply a fan of the brand! 

Also, all Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase the item I receive a very small percentage of profits. I am a huge proponent of shopping local so please check your local stores and buy your products anywhere that works well for you!

Giveaway! *******giveaway has now ended- Mama On A Mission is our winner!********

Now, the fun part! I reached out to Simply Owl Natural to tell her that I was including her product in my blog post and they kindly offered to give away a care package for one lucky blog reader! 

The products that one winner will receive are as follows:

2 oz. magnesium lotion
Lip balm
Itch Stick
2 oz. vapor rub

Such a decadent care package for yourself or a loved one for the upcoming cold and flu season. 

Entry is easy! There are two methods of entry and you can do both for two entries into the giveaway. 

1) Favorite Simply Owl Natural's shop on Etsy here and comment below noting that you did so. 
2) Like Simply Owl Natural's Facebook page here and comment below noting that you did so. 

Please use separate comments for each entry. Giveaway will end at 8 pm Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 1st and the winner will be chosen via the random number generator at US entries only at this time, please. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hospice Nursing and Lessons in Parenting

We all know, as parents, that the days are long but the years pass quickly. Any parent has had a myriad of people remind them to enjoy the moments when your children are young because they pass so quickly. I imagine the reason that these words are so often spoken is because they are true, if over spoken.

I realized as soon as my first child was born 14 years ago that it was true. It seemed as if he would grow before my very eyes in that first year. However, as I added two more children to the mix the days seem to pass with an ever faster and alarming speed, I imagine due to the busy days of chasing after three children and shuttling them all to their activities.

The largest revelation for me was not in my own experiences but in watching my elderly hospice patients. Yes, observing the end of life had many lessons for me about the middle of my life.

Most of my nursing career has been in pediatrics, but there was a brief year and a half span where I gave hospice nursing a try. It had been something I'd wanted to try since nursing school and the perfect opportunity presented itself and I went for it. Hospice nursing was a temporary career turn for me, but the life lessons were forever imprinted on my heart.

Several of my elderly hospice patients were lost in a world all their own and no longer recognized themselves in their current form nor their family members. What was very profound for me was that nearly all of the women in this state that I cared for found themselves lost back in the days of their early motherhood, many of them carrying around baby dolls that they were convinced were real and would spend most of their waking hours caring for the dolls. I asked a staff nurse at one nursing home I was working at why she thought they all became lost in the same imaginary world. I remember this old, battle-ax of a nurse tilting her head at me as though she couldn't believe the question and replying, "Why honey, why wouldn't someone want to be a mother again? Those were the happiest days of their life." I was immediately struck with reflection into my own life, the frantically busy and sleep deprived life that was mine when I wasn't wearing my nurse's badge. I knew with every ounce of my soul that I was in the midst of the best days of my life and had not realized it until this moment. 

A staff member at one nursing home had a drawer of baby dolls that she would give to any woman who was comforted by this. She told me that she had found that women who had been mothers could not bear to be without someone to care for and if these plastic dolls brought them peace in their final days, who were we decide that it was a strange thing for a grown woman to tote around. Her observation was that the woman who lost themselves in this imaginary world often died in peace, happy to relive the long days of caring for their babies.

At the end of my shift I would go home to my children and I realized that I had a renewed sense of myself as a mother and how important these days were to me- not only now but for forever. I knew that I needed to squeeze out every moment of this time as well as I possibly could and the memories of these years, busy and exhausted as they are, will be looked back onto for the rest of my life.

I am exhausted. Weary to the bone most days and collapse into my bed at the end of the night with the exhaustion of one who has run a marathon. It is often hard. It is also blissful. I am harvesting as much bliss as I can out of every day in my home full of children. I can thank those women in the nursing home for the reminder of just how lovely these days are, even when I am bone tired and worried.

These are the halcyon days of my life. I must make memories to sustain myself for the years when my home is not so full. I am so blessed to have been given the gift of a house full of love- I will not waste this time.

Live every moment, Lovelies. This life is short and full of wonder.