Sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach and feeling nauseous right before a big event like a test, job interview or big date is something we’ve all had to deal with at some point. These symptoms of stress are absolutely normal and don’t last very long. Once the event is over, you turn back into your good old and relaxed self.
But sometimes stressful events don’t only last a couple of hours. Some life events can last weeks, months or even years. Trying to cope with a high-stress job, relationship troubles, chronically ill children or a life-threatening disease can leave us feeling stressed for extended periods of time.
We all experience stress differently with stress meaning different things to different people. What might cause on person stress, might have little or no effect on someone else. But because stress is so subjective, a lot of people – especially women – feel isolated. Like they have to deal with everything on their own, ending up with them feeling like they are not getting the necessary support from those around them.
And it is at this point that stress can become overwhelming, chronic and dangerous, often being dubbed the silent “killer disease”.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is our body’s way of trying to cope with a potentially harmful situations. When we feel threatened, our bodies react by releasing chemical which allow us to act in the most appropriate way to prevent ourselves from getting harmed or injured. This stress response is what is called “fight-or-flight, and characterized by our heart rate increasing, our muscles tightening, our blood pressure rising and our breath quickening. You are now ready to act and protect yourself.
Not all stress is bad. In small doses it can help us think more clearly, motivate us to action, help us accomplish tasks more effective and prevent us from getting hurt. The problem with stress is that when we experience this “fight-or-flight” response over a long period of time, we start to suffer long-term consequences which affect every part of our minds and bodies.
The Long-Term Effects Of Stress On The Body
Our bodies are not designed for chronic stress. When we are stressed out for long periods of time, our bodies are continuously being flooded with high levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, wreaking havoc on almost every part of our bodies.
The long-term effects of chronic stress on the body can include things like:
- Anxiety disorders and depression
- Heart and cardiovascular disease
- Digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation
- Chronic fatigue and insomnia
- Endocrine disorders such as adrenal burn-out
- Immune system issues such as chronic inflammation
- Weight gain which can lead to insulin resistance and even diabetes
- Chronic inflammation
- Muscle tension and headaches
HOW CBD CAN HELP STRESS
There are a number of ways in which CBD can help us cope better with stress. Not only can it help us relax, but it can also help reduce many of the symptoms associated with chronic stress. At the same time CBD can also enhancing the self-care practices which often form part of a wholistic stress-reduction plan.
CBD for Stress: Enhance Relaxation
Although studies regarding CBD for relaxation specifically are lacking, there are a handful of studies that show that CBD has a powerful and positive effect on stress in a similar way as it does for anxiety and depression (read more about how CBD works for anxiety here, and for depression here).
When we’re in a chronic state of stress our endocannabinoid system (ECS) doesn’t work properly any more. Levels of the endocannabinoids that help us deal with stress become imbalanced. At the same time the number of CB1 receptors responsible for keeping our emotions in check, decrease, leaving us feeling unhinged and stressed out.
CBD can help us relax by regulating the ECS and balancing out the stress-reducing endocannabinoids in our bodies. In other words, CBD can help our brains to once again regulate our emotions effectively while helping us respond better to stress.
CBD for Stress: Enhance Sleep
One of the biggest side effects of stress is difficulties with sleep and insomnia. When we are feeling stressed out, falling asleep can be challenging. We often end up lying awake, staring at the ceiling, our worries and worst-case scenarios running through our minds on repeat. Similarly, waking up in the middle of the night and then trying to go back to sleep is also problematic.
A lack of sleep not only leaves us feeling tired and irritable during the day, but it also reduces our ability to deal with stress itself, causing an ever increasing downward spiral. The reason for this is due to a lack of REM-sleep. REM-sleep has long been thought to be beneficial for emotional health, with too little contributing to feelings fo stress and anxiety.
Luckily, not only can CBD help you relax enough to fall asleep, but researchers also now believe that CBD promotes REM sleep, reducing many of the negative psychological effects of sleep deprivation.
CBD for Stress: Enhance Stress-Reduction Practices
Many people are turning to stress-reduction exercises to help them calm down and reduce their physical symptoms of stress. Many women prefer gentler practices such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness to help them cope. For many, CBD can help enhance these practices, making them more enjoyable and effective.
A big benefit of yoga for stress is that it helps you focus while ridding the body of stress when you “get in the flow”.
CBD can enhance your yoga practice by helping you clear your mind, get yoga-ready, as well as releasing the tightness in your body. But yoga is also an intense form of exercise involving every muscle in the body. CBD can help you recover faster, helping you get on your mat more often.
Mindfulness is often recommended against stress because it helps you get into the now, giving your mind a respite from all your worries and stress. But the most difficult part of mindfulness is getting in the groove, stilling your mind long enough to take in your thoughts and surroundings completely. With CBD, you can help your mind ease its way into a focused, calm and mindful space, switching on your “being” mode and become more aware and sensitive to the needs of your body.
CBD and meditation are a match made in heaven. In fact, using hemp for meditation goes back centuries, even being recommended in The Vedas, the sacred texts of India.
Even today a hemp and milk drink called bhang is regularly consumed during several Hindu festivals because of its ability to help one reach a spiritual, meditative state.
HOW TO USE CBD FOR STRESS
If you are considering supplementing with CBD to help you deal with stress, it is important to understand that CBD is not a cure-all. CBD works best as part of a comprehensive and wholistic self-care plan that will help you reduce your overall stress levels.
Similarly, look for a high-quality CBD product which has been third-party tested for purity and strength to ensure that you are getting an effective and safe product.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.