"It can feel, at times, if you let your anxiety get the better of you, like everybody’s waiting for you to really mess up — and then you’ll be done," Swift told NME in 2015. Now in a new article in Elle, written by Swift herself, the singer shared some life lessons that she's learned ahead of her 30th birthday, including how she copes with her anxiety, both about work and her personal life.
Swift revealed that the 2017 Manchester bombing heightened her anxieties about going on tour. "I was completely terrified to go on tour this time because I didn’t know how we were going to keep 3 million fans safe over seven months,” she wrote. "There was a tremendous amount of planning, expense, and effort put into keeping my fans safe." To help manage it all, Swift also mentioned that taking vitamins has become part of her personal wellness routine. "Vitamins make me feel so much better!” she wrote. "I take L-theanine, which is a natural supplement to help with stress and anxiety. I also take magnesium for muscle health and energy."
Even if you’re not a touring musician like Swift, these supplements might sound intriguing because, as Swift said, they’re "natural." But just because something claims to be "all natural" doesn’t always mean that it’s safe. Dietary supplements like these are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to the same degree that drugs are, so you have to do your research before popping a pill. In some cases, supplements could be mixed with other products that interact with medication you take.
That said, the specific supplements that Swift named have been shown to help with anxiety and stress. L-theanine is an amino acid that's found in green tea leaves, and is believed to influence people's psychological and physiological under stress by blocking neurotransmitters that "excite" the brain. L-theanine also increases GABA, serotonin, and dopamine levels, which all help to promote relaxation.
Magnesium, on the other hand, is a nutrient regulates muscles and nerves, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Most people get their daily magnesium requirement (adult women only need 310-320mg per day) from foods, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens, so supplements aren't totally necessary. People with certain health conditions, such as migraines, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes, may benefit from taking magnesium supplements. But the average healthy person will just end up peeing out excess magnesium.
Ultimately, it's up to you and your doctor or healthcare provider to decide which supplements or medications are individualized for you and your anxiety. It's great that Swift is being candid about how she takes care of her mental health — and we don't know what else she does that wasn't mentioned in the story. But before you go ordering L-theanine and magnesium, it's important to keep in mind that natural remedies for anxiety should just be one part of your mental health treatment.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please contact Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566. All calls will be answered in confidence.