5 Ways to Use Cannabis for Self-Care at Home
Can you remember the last time you took an afternoon nap on your couch? Depending on the strains of cannabis you buy, it may be a fairly common occurrence. But for most people, slowing down for a timeout is a bit of a struggle. And if you are a patient with a medical card, cannabis for self-care is a new way to think about medicinal marijuana.
Even when you want to relax, there are always things that need to be done. Around your home, with your family, children, or significant other. Errands, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Sometimes carving out some “me time” can feel impossible.
Self-care should always be your top priority. Because when you start considering downtime and a good night of sleep as a luxury, you know it is not sustainable. All the double-shot espresso energy drinks and weeks of a triple-booked personal and work schedule can tank your immune system. And contribute to other problems with mood, energy, weight management, and more.
If you have been feeling more like a hamster running on a fast wheel, schedule time for yourself. Break out your Google or iCal and block off time when you can unwind and recharge. And consider it a health date you can’t break because it matters so much for your overall well-being.
Using Cannabis for Self-Care to Manage Chronic Stress
Is there such a thing as good stress? If you have chronic stress, the notion of any stress being pleasant is probably weird. But there are actually four different types of stress. And one of them actually boosts mental and physical health.
When we talk about stressful events (or lives), it is always a universal reference. Stress is stress, right? But understanding the difference between the four different types of stress can actually help. Because you may want to try different approaches to moderate your symptoms, depending on the kind of stress you experience.
The highest temporary level of stress your body endures is called Acute Stress. When you are facing an extremely stressful situation, your blood pressure rises, and your body is flooded with cortisol stress hormones. And it can take more than ninety (90) minutes for your metabolism and brain to return to a normal state of relaxation.
Acute stress can also trigger health emergencies, such as heart attacks or stroke, if the individual has cardiovascular problems. And the development of Acute Stress Disorder, which can be a precursor to Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Intermittent Acute Stress can actually benefit your brain, according to some clinical studies. It has been linked to improved performance, concentration, and alertness. And it can also help people retain information and learn. But the big health risks start when you are not able to manage your stress well. And develop a condition called Chronic Stress, which can last for years or even a lifetime, depending on the individual.
Telling someone who is stressed to relax is counterintuitive. Because no one enjoys the sensation of being stressed out. While most people move in and out of stressful events and periods of their lives, for some, the stress never goes away. And it becomes part of their daily lives.
If you have chronic stress, it should be considered a health problem that requires the guidance of your doctor. Because lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, and relaxation) are the first steps to combating chronic stress. There are also some prescription medications that can help (combined with talk therapy). And medical marijuana for patients with one or more qualifying health conditions.
Think of Eustress as “happy stress.” This is the excitement you experience when you are doing something fun or emotionally rewarding. Think of the stress of a wedding day. There is no sense of peril, but you may be busy. In a good way. And while your body registers the activity, it is not a negative experience.
Examples of the good kind of stress include:
- Getting a new pet
- Getting a promotion at work or raise
- Making new friends
- Having a baby
- Starting a new relationship
- Traveling somewhere interesting
People experience short-term Eustress. And while you are in the positive stress state, you may feel more motivated and energetic. Because you are not feeling overwhelmed but rather excited and able to cope with the situation easily.
Everything is going well until it isn’t. Distress is an emotional and physiological state that is a reaction to an event. It may not last for long, but when it does, it creates nervousness and upset. You may become irritable or withdrawn.
Some examples of experiences that can cause temporary distress include divorce, illness or injury, conflicts at work, or money problems. And symptoms of Distress typically resolve once you have found a solution to the problem and resolved it.
What Happens to Your Body When You Are Stressed Out?
Remember when you were a kid, and you had daydreams? Those lovely little mental breaks throughout the day when our minds were allowed to wander. Have you ever noticed that as we age, daydreaming becomes less frequent? Well, there is some science behind that.
In order to daydream, you have to allow yourself to sit idle. That means phone down and minimizing noise and other distractions so that you can let your mind relax. And for many adults, that’s a big problem. Who has time to do nothing? When in actuality, the human body and brain need those rest intervals.
When you don’t give yourself valuable downtime, physiological changes start to occur. The first and most critical change is to your cortisol levels. That is the stress hormone that the body produces when you are in “fight or flight” mode.
Cortisol is a survival mechanism. But our bodies were not designed to be living in a constant state of stress. Chronic stress impacts 77% of Americans, according to The American Institute of Stress.
- 33% of Americans report feeling extreme stress
- 77% of people experience stress that impacts their physical health
- 73% of people regularly experience stress levels that impact their mental health.
The human body was not designed to cope with long-term or chronic stress. When you live every day in a stressful state, it has a cumulative effect on your health. You can suffer from symptoms of depression, low energy and experience problems with hypertension (high blood pressure).
Ready to Stress Less? Six Ways to Use Cannabis for Self-Care
When patients choose to add medical cannabis to their treatment plan, many people are focused on one or two symptoms. For example, you may have your doctor create a strategy to help you cope with chronic pain. When you have debilitating symptoms, cannabis may provide some relief.
But what about using medical marijuana for self-care? To help you achieve those breaks in your week when you really do need to slow down and unwind. There are more than 700 documented strains of cannabis (combined with the benefits of terpenes and active cannabinoids) to explore. And some of them can definitely help you relax.
1. Meditate On It
Turn off the electrical devices, find a quiet place, and put on some meditative music. If your brain feels like a College sized whiteboard with concerns and stressful thoughts, certain strains can wipe it clean. Not kidding. Go ahead and try to remember what you were stressed about when you are using cannabis for self-care.
Some strains of cannabis that may be good for relaxed meditation include:
- Granddaddy Purple
- Hindu Kush
- Blue Dream
- Oregon Lemons,
- Lamb’s Bread
When you are meditating, and using cannabis for self-care, focus on taking deep breaths. You don’t have to be a Guru to realize the health benefits of meditation. That deep breathing can slow down your metabolism and lower your blood pressure. And help your body lower Cortisol (stress hormone) levels naturally.
2. Turn It Up and Tune it Out
Binaural beats are a great way to relax that work well for some people. They are soundtracks that contain alpha frequencies (up to 13 Hz). And they can lower human beta frequencies to promote relaxation, increased focus and motivation, and improved memory and problem-solving.
- White Buffalo
- SoCal Master Kush
Find some free binaural beats on YouTube and try them out. Interestingly, you can also find some strain suggestions to pair with the soundtracks on YouTube as well. And some people have experienced a stronger positive reaction to binaural beats after they have consumed cannabis. The sound frequencies may naturally increase melatonin and DHEA while also decreasing Cortisol levels.
3. Get Creative
Even if you think you have zero creative talent, there is a lot to be said about the benefits of art therapy. You can choose anything to do, from clay sculpture to sketching, painting, or woodwork. Something that you enjoy doing that isn’t related to productivity or scratching things off that giant list of things to do.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beneficial. You can find art and craft supplies at your local dollar store. Make a cup of tea, and explore new strains of cannabis for self-care. Plants that may stimulate creativity (and tone down stress and anxiety).
- Silver Haze
- Sour Diesel
- Sensi Amnesia XXL
How do creative activities reduce stress? Whenever you are engaged in a fun activity, your brain receives more dopamine. That is the “feel good” happy hormone. And it also helps you create “flow” or a state of relaxed concentration that is linked to happiness. If you can lose track of time doing something you love, that creates a healthy flow that benefits your body and brain.
4. Forest Bathing
In Japan, forest bathing is an important part of self-care. Nothing feels quite as invigorating as being outside in a wooded area and communing with nature. But there are a lot of physiological things that happen to your body when you take a walk in the park.
Trees have terpenes, just like cannabis and every other type of plant and animal on the planet. And trees also emit high levels of oxygen. So when you combine clean, fresh air with natural inhaled terpenes, chances are you’re going to feel less stressed.
Start by choosing a strain of cannabis for self-care that is non-sedating (since you have to walk) but one that may boost overall calmness. And you want to make sure you select a strain that keeps you alert and safe outdoors while eliminating the triggers for any deep (or upsetting) thoughts.
- Bruce Banner
- Durban Poison
- Sour Diesel
- Willie Nelson
Remember to breathe deeply when you are outside and near trees. All those free terpenes add to letting go of stressful thoughts and allowing your body to relax. And for most people, it is as good for mental well-being as a short vacation.
5. Gardening to Reduce Stress
Have you ever noticed that people who garden are usually relaxed and happy? There are a number of reasons why gardening can be the ultimate stress-busting activity. Especially since it requires focus and improves blood circulation while you are engaged in aerobic activities. There are also natural enzymes in soil that can lift mood and energy.
Since you are at home, you may not mind choosing an Indica. Many Indica dominant or balanced hybrid strains can provide calmness (without feeling drowsy). You may not permanently forget your problems, but you’ll get a little mental break from them with the right cannabis strain.
- Ice Cream Cake
- Platinum OG
- Crazy Miss Hyde
- Pineapple Express
Don’t have a backyard? No problem! You can also nurture indoor or patio plants to get the benefits of gardening. Remember that plants release natural terpenes that lift your mood and take your mind off stressful thoughts or situations for a while.
Choosing the Right Cannabis for Self-Care Exercises
Some strains of cannabis for self-care may have psychoactive effects that are not conducive to relaxation. Some strains can ramp up active thinking and contribute to increased anxiety and sometimes paranoid thoughts.
Remember to talk to your budtender or physician to ask for expert guidance on calming strains. Indica strains may remove any worries and stress, but they can make you sleepy. Whereas some Sativa and hybrid strains of medical marijuana won’t slow you down, they may help you forget what you were stressed about for a time.
And that mental break from stress, where you are not thinking (or overthinking) problems and outcomes, can be the best gift you give your brain and body. A moment to breathe and simply be at peace.
Sometimes you have to allow yourself to “check out” and trust that your body is a complex machine that can break down if you are running non-stop. Naps are allowed. So are a few hours of Netflix and chill for your good health.
Dr. Rothman is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has received multiple special awards and recognitions, including Physician of the Year, from the Pinellas County Medical Association (2014 – 2015) and the President’s Service Award from the Pinellas County Medical Society.
He attended medical school at State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, where he also completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Rothman’s professional career includes being an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida and Clinical Instructor at the University of Tampa’s College of Nursing.
Dr. Rothman received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2016 and was one of the first recommending physicians through DocMJ in the state and is loved by many of those early patients today.