Natural Stress Relief – can CBD help?
Stress is one of those things we all experience from time to time, for any number of different reasons. There are numerous different ways to cope with stress, and what works well for one person can exacerbate the issue in someone else.
What is stress?
Stress is any physical, mental or emotional factor that causes us tension either physically or mentally. It’s a normal part of life, and some degree of stress can be a good thing – the term eustress refers to a beneficial stress such as exercise, which although it causes a stress on the body and/or mind, it has an overall benefit for us. Problems can come when we move into the territory of distress – a stress which is not beneficial and can actually cause us harm. Stress is a normal part of human life, and even something positive such as moving to a new home or having a baby can cause us stress that can become problematic.
Stress can be categorised in many different ways. Dr Karl Albrecht put stress into four categories (time stress; anticipatory stress; situational stress; encounter stress) whereas others split stressors into physical, psychological, psychosocial and psychospiritual groups. However we categorise it though, there are two main types: acute stress, which is short term (for example, having an argument or getting stuck in traffic) and chronic stress which is a more long term situation and unfortunately something symptomatic of the modern world.
The majority of us will get over acute stress quickly. In evolutionary terms, acute stress would be what our ancestors felt when they needed to run away from a lion in order to survive. Once they had escaped the lion, it was back to business as usual. Our ancestors didn’t really get chronic stress in the way that we do today though; they didn’t have long term issues with a colleague at work or paying the mortgage.
Where acute stress can usually be shaken off almost immediately, chronic stress is a response to pressure over a period of time, where we often feel that we have no control over the situation. Our endocrine system produces stress hormones as if we’re running away from that lion – but this can end up happening on a daily basis, with damaging effects on both the body and mood.
What are the symptoms of chronic stress?
Unfortuately, many of us have been under chronic stress for so long we may not even register it as stress any longer – it’s just what daily life looks like. That can make it hard to identify the damaging effects stress may be having on us. Here are some common symptoms of stress:
- Persistent headaches
- Low energy and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability and anger
- Depression or low mood
- Changes in appetite
- Upset stomach or indigestion
- Muscle tension
- Loss of motivation
Natural ways to relieve stress
Stress can have devastating effects on our health and relationships in the long term, but there is no quick fix to alleviate it. Since stress comes from our lifestyle, we need to make changes in the way we live in order to relieve it. This is often easier said than done though, with much of the modern world now set up around this increased tension in our lives.
The natural remedies for stress mentioned below can all help us to navigate a stressful world – but it is also worth looking at lifestyle changes. If you feel that you are too stressed, can you make long term changes to alleviate this? Could you switch jobs, or move teams within your current company? Can you change your living arrangements or make some other change that can remove some stress from your life? A lot of our stress can come from feeling that we lack control so taking control by making changes – however small – can make a real difference.
It can be hard to fit regular exercise into our daily (or even weekly) routines these days, but it is worth finding space for it. Putting controlled physical (acute) stress on your body can help to relive mental stress. This doesn’t need to take up a lot of time either; there are many videos available on YouTube that can take you through a simple 30-minute HIIT workout, or even shorter Tabata workouts that will get your heart pumping and help to relieve some of your stress.
Exercise has been shown to lower the body’s stress hormones and also to release endorphins which act as natural pain killers and improve mood.
Reduce caffeine intake
This is not something most of us want to hear, but a high caffeine intake can increase stress and anxiety. As well as this, caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, which means 6 hours after your last cup of coffee, half of that caffeine is still in your system and can prevent you getting a good night’s sleep, thus increasing your stress. If you can’t bear the thought of cutting out caffeine altogether, consider setting a caffeine curfew where you don’t drink it after 2pm. This will at least help you to get a better night’s sleep.
Spending time with friends and family can really help with stress levels. When we feel connected to the people around us the stress from other parts of our life can feel less significant – and feeling that we are part of a supportive network brings a sense of belonging and self-worth that can help us to get through difficult situations.
There are many supplements that could help people dealing with chronic stress. For example, stress depletes our magnesium stores. The body uses magnesium for over 300 chemical processes in the body, including relaxing the muscles – so if you’re stressed, a magnesium supplement is probably a good idea. As well as this, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms.
CBD for stress
As with other natural remedies for stress mentioned above, CBD will work best when applied with other lifestyle changes. CBD can be a natural way to reduce daily stress and help us to remain calm in stressful situations. CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, something we all have in our bodies. As yet scientists are unsure of exactly how it works, but they do know that the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate things like memory, pain, sleep and mood – all things that can be affected by stress. Many people report feeling more calm and relaxed when using CBD oil regularly.
Stress is unfortunately something we all have to deal with in the modern world. We all need to take steps to find ways to alleviate the unavoidable stresses in our lives so as to avoid adverse effects in the long term.