The COVID-19 crisis and 2020 as a whole continue to take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. For most of us right now, situational stress is all too real. Many Americans are experiencing considerable stress related to the pandemic and are also reporting higher levels of general stress than in recent years, according to the American Psychological Association.
That stress can stem from ongoing, big picture issues — like supporting your kids with full-time or part-time virtual learning or worrying about the outcome of the general election. But it might also be the result of everyday activities that look and feel so different as we navigate this new normal.
From psyching yourself up to mask up and head into a grocery store to watching the debates and figuring out your plan to vote, tasks that once seemed run-of-the-mill could cause you to experience acute stress.
CBD and Situational Stress
Here’s what you need to know about this particular type of stress and how CBD can help.
The acute stress response
Although chronic stress is an ongoing, slow-motion form of stress that you’ll experience over the course of weeks or months, acute stress is defined as short-term stress that the brain — and, in turn, the body — perceives as an immediate psychological, emotional, or physical threat.
Whether you’re finding it tough to remain calm behind the wheel or you’re in the midst of a heart-racing political debate with a loved one, acute stress causes the amygdala — an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing — to send a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which communicates with the rest of the body through the nervous system that it’s time to either fight or flee. In turn, the hypothalamus will trigger the sympathetic nervous system to set off a cascade of hormones: adrenaline (which bumps up your heart rate and blood pressure to boosting your energy supply), and later, cortisol (which is often referred to as the stress hormone).
Both are meant to give you more energy to deal with that perceived threat. But, as the Mayo Clinic notes, cortisol also suppresses bodily functions that might be problematic when you’re in fight-or-flight mode, such as regular processes of your immune, digestive, and reproductive systems. It might also interfere with your mood, motivation, and fear.
When acute stress becomes chronic
That spike of adrenaline and cortisol produced by the brain and adrenal glands happens every time we encounter a stressful situation, says Haley Hansen, Equilibria Dosage Specialist. And this is particularly concerning, given just how often those stressful situations are popping up this year. After all, an ongoing flood of adrenaline and cortisol can wreak havoc on our body, says Hansen.
In short, the body’s processes, which are affected by the stress response, can become impaired. Putting you at risk of a bevy of health concerns from digestive problems to sleep problems and memory impairment.
How CBD can help
While it’s not possible to hit pause on the barrage of acute stressors we’re currently facing, CBD can help to directly combat cortisol, says Hansen. In fact, research has found that it can interfere with the secretion of the stress hormone. In turn, reducing the amount circulating in the blood.
At the same time, CBD will support stores of the body’s own natural endocannabinoid anandamide, which can be compromised by stress, notes Hansen. Nicknamed the “bliss” molecule, anandamide is produced when you work up a satisfying sweat at the gym or eat chocolate.
In turn, it’s tougher to fall into ‘crisis mode,’ explains Hansen. “In fact, many women report that CBD helps them ‘feel like they have a longer fuse’ and ‘aren’t so triggered by everyday stressors,’” she notes. “How helpful during 2020!”
It bears noting that you can best guard your overall wellness against the negative effects of acute and chronic stress by taking CBD every day, consistently.
This is because CBD, like all cannabinoids, builds up in the body over time. A daily dose can help maintain sustained levels in your system and promote a more effective Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a biological system that has shown to help control sleep, mood, inflammation, and overall homeostasis (a body’s state of balance). So it is crucial to keep it in top condition.
That said, when you’re anticipating or experiencing an acute stressor — say you’re dining out for the first time since the pandemic began — you might consider enhancing your protocol and stress response by taking a “micro-dose” of CBD, says Hansen. This could look like just a ½ dropper of the Daily Drops in addition to your regular dose.
“Many women like to take a small dose like this before stressful events like leading a big Zoom call or getting out of the house to go vote,” notes Hansen. The end result: You can face these daily encounters with stress feeling more cool, calm, and collected.
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