We've all had bad days. Maybe you lost your phone or your dog ripped a hole in the couch. Interestingly, more and more people are finding that marijuana can help elevate their mood and relieve stress after a no good, very bad day.
Recent studies have shown cannabis may relieve some of the effects of stress on brain function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) affect levels of naturally occurring neurotransmitters associated with stress, such as:
Not only do we have anecdotes from folks who say cannabis relaxes them when they’re feeling stressed out, but studies reveal that cannabis can reduce physical markers of stress, too.
In one experiment, subjects took a stress test, with some consuming marijuana beforehand while a control group didn’t. The group of cannabis consumers said they felt less stressed during the test. They were also found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood.
All science aside, marijuana can be a fun and easy way to unwind. You can turn a bad day right around with some cannabis, fun activities, good TV shows and healthy snacks. Our staff at HelloMD shared a few of their favorite marijuana strains they turn to when they’re feeling down or frazzled.
Danielle L., senior health & wellness writer: “If I’ve had a bad day, my go-to strain is Pineapple Express. It's a sativa-dominant hybrid, but it's not too racy and is easy to find at dispensaries. If you can’t find this particular strain, you can also look for landrace strains of Hawaiian lineage, like Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Sometimes sativas are too strong, triggering and causing stress and even raising my heart rate.”
A few daily stressors can add up, so it’s important to have a relaxing routine to decompress. Here’s what works for Danielle:
“Public transit and work usually cause me stress. When I consume cannabis for that, I just like to talk with my partner and vent, while watching something uplifting. I think that the upcoming election is going to make me want more cannabis in general.”
It’s also important to choose a healthy snack when consuming cannabis to deal with a bad day. A healthy diet can also impact your mood, and you don’t want the munchies to plunge you further into a negative headspace.
“For snacks, I usually have some nori, because it’s low calorie,” says Danielle. “But if I’ve had a really bad day and there are chips in the house, they’re gone. Mangoes I hear can be really good. They contain a lot of the terpene myrcene, which can boost your high. I might suggest trying that with some yogurt.”
Sonya T., social media manager: “In New York where I used to live, a bad day consists of getting to the train station and finding out it isn’t running. You have to find other sources of transportation, and there are a bunch of people in need of a cab who all want to go to the same destination. So, you end up getting there an hour late, and then have to explain why. After that, getting home and making dinner are added stressors.
“For bad days, I like to roll up Lamb’s Bread or GSC. To de-stress, Lamb’s Bread is my favorite, because you can still feel productive and get into a creative zone. I like sativas that let you coast, and people say Lamb’s Bread acts like a hybrid for them. It doesn’t make me hyper-aware like Jack Herer or Green Crack, which trigger my anxiety.
“The flavor of Lamb’s Bread is citrusy, similar to Pineapple Express. Depending on how much I smoke, I would consider it to be pretty mild. I like to take a couple of puffs, chill for a second, then maybe 20 to 30 minutes later, pick it up and get into some creative stuff.
“I always get into making music. I tried drawing for a minute with some comedic results—it was interesting. I make all sorts of music with the computer, sometimes it’s jazz or more like house.”
Bart S., customer service specialist: Sometimes if I’m hanging out with my friends, they’ll make jokes about my problems. With cannabis that can be a good thing, to help me see how I can use humor to change my perspective. So, if I’m a little stressed and need a mood booster, I go for Dutch Treat.
“I like to follow my nose when I'm trying to find strains that appeal to me. If something smells good, especially if it's fruity or citrusy, it reminds me of vitamin C and that makes me feel upbeat. I don’t get the munchies with Dutch Treat, and it helps me engage in conversation.”
That fruity smell that Bart mentioned is thanks to the terpene limonene. Terpenes are present in the cannabis plant as well as other plants, fruits and vegetables. They’re oils that come from the plant’s resin glands and are responsible for the plant’s taste and smell. Limonene is known to:
Limonene has also been shown to lessen anxiety, so it’s no wonder Bart reaches for a citrus-smelling cannabis strain when he needs to de-stress.
Cannabis is also a social experience. Sharing cannabis and perspectives with people can be therapeutic and help you feel more content after a particularly stressful day. “If a group of strangers is smoking with me, I usually don’t talk about current events, which might be too heavy,” says Bart. “I also try to choose positive music that everyone can get into, maybe Sublime or classic rock like Jimi Hendrix.”
“But if I’m alone after a particularly bad day, after consuming I like to watch TV. Travel shows and “Planet Earth” make me feel like I’m on vacation, which is calming and relaxing.”
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