Many people are now using CBD to manage their day-to-day stress. It offers natural relief from excessive stress, helping to alleviate the irritability, worry, and mental distress it causes. This is highly beneficial for those who suffer from chronic stress because of the detrimental impacts it has on sleep, immunity, recovery, and cardiovascular health. Building resilience against stressors and soothing anxious feelings is vital in bolstering overall well-being. CBD achieves this through its anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing properties. Its mental effects through the brain’s natural cannabinoid receptors allow it to help calm the mind, balance mood, aid with focus, and reduce sensitivity to stress. It can easily be used daily or before stressful situations to help manage nervousness and regain confidence.
- 1 Understanding Stress
- 2 Health Impacts of Chronic Stress
- 3 Can CBD Lower Stress?
- 4 How to Use CBD for Stress
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Conclusion
Let’s understand stress. Stress is a natural response that your brain uses to help you deal with environmental threats and dangers. Specifically, it aims to drive you into fighting or running away to survive. As such, the stress response is known as ‘fight or flight’. When it occurs, your brain stimulates several physiological responses that provide a rapid burst of energy, focus, and alertness. It does this by causing your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. Both hormones rapidly increase heart rate, alertness, breath rate, and reaction time. They help you to react to potential danger as fast as possible.
These effects occur through the body’s sympathetic nervous system, specifically tuned to your stress response, which delivers energy bursting through the muscles. The stress response is essential for survival as it helps prime the body for action in response to dangers. But in modern times, everyday stressors hijack what we encounter daily. For example, stressful meetings, conversations, traffic, work deadlines, or financial strain can all trigger the response. When it is repeatedly activated over extended periods, it is known as chronic stress and causes adverse health effects. Long-term stress runs counter to the natural purpose of the stress response as a short-term, acute reaction to danger. Stress experienced over a long period is not natural for our bodies.
What Causes Chronic Stress?
What causes chronic stress? For many people, the stress response can become overactive and get triggered many times a day. Often, this is due to lifestyle or environmental factors like a stressful job, family situation, children, or health problems. Genetics and predisposition can also affect a person is susceptibility to chronic day-to-day stress. Those who are neurotic and have a natural tendency to worry are more likely to suffer from chronic stress or anxiety. Anxiety is a different condition, which is a more severe form of chronic over-thinking, nervousness, panic, and fear.
Chronic stress has a range of symptoms that can present differently depending on the individual. Some common physical symptoms include elevated resting heart rate, gastrointestinal distress or IBS, sleep problems and insomnia, plus getting sick frequently due to impaired immunity. It can also have symptoms that surface in mental distress or emotional adversity. For example, chronically stressed individuals are more likely to also suffer from anxiety or depression, poor focus, mood problems, irritability and social isolation.
What’s worse is that these symptoms can interplay and worsen one another. Someone who is overly stressed and anxious is more likely to have poor sleep and physical health problems. This is what makes chronic stress so dangerous for many chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It amplifies physical and mental degeneration, reducing health across various areas.
Health Impacts of Chronic Stress
While stress is a normal part of daily life and can’t be avoided, chronic stress over prolonged periods will deteriorate your health. Let’s look at the long-term health consequences of stress if left unabated.
More cortisol than the body can naturally handle is produced when we become overly stressed for long periods. Excessive cortisol exposure can cause muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, high blood pressure and lowered immunity. It stimulates your hunger and appetite for carbohydrates as a survival mechanism. Many who are stressed resort to ‘stress eating’ and crave sweet or fatty junk foods in response to cortisol. This can lead to overeating, binging, increased fat storage and heart disease. Simultaneously, cortisol is known to stimulate your body into breaking down muscle, enabling it to be used as a fuel for survival. But lower muscle mass also means reduced metabolism and decreased physical endurance, exacerbating weight gain. Lowering cortisol levels and keeping them at normal ranges is critical for avoiding these problems.
Those who are chronically stressed are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, inflammation of the blood vessels and atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries. In time, this can cause problems with blood flow, limiting oxygen to the rest of the body, which reduces cell and organ function. It also raises the risk of stroke, heart attack and issues like type 2 diabetes, each of which stems from poor cardiovascular health. Cortisol naturally increases heart rate and blood pressure, straining the heart. It can weaken the body’s ability to efficiently circulate blood over time, elevating blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
Those who are chronically stressed suffer from immune system problems. Stress suppresses the immune response and weakens the body’s ability to fight infection at the cellular level. It can make you less resilient to diseases, viruses and pathogens. Over time, this will mean you get sick more often from common colds and have more frequent illnesses. The sleep-disrupting effects of chronic stress exacerbate these problems. During sleep, our body repairs and maintains our immune system, keeping it healthy. When sleep is impaired from insomnia caused by stress, it weakens immunity and lowers the body’s defences against disease.
Depression and Anxiety
Those who are chronically stressed are far more likely to be anxious, suffer from depression, engage in binge eating and become exposed to other mental illnesses. Very acute stress events can even cause mental trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also known to impair memory, cause problems with concentration, impact mood and irritability, and damage our learning ability. These neurodegenerative effects can worsen the longer a person is exposed to heightened stress levels. The brain’s neurotransmitter levels and natural energy balance become disrupted, causing cognitive decline.
Hormone and Digestive Problems
The mind is directly linked to other bodily systems, such as the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems. People with chronic stress or anxiety are frequently known to suffer from stomach problems, gastrointestinal irritability and hormone dysregulation. A significant percentage of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome cases, for example, relate directly to chronic stress. It can damage the mind-gut connection, causing disrupted gut health and issues in digestion. This even contributes to inflammatory bowel problems like colitis and intolerances that are all the result of imbalances from stress.
At the same time, chronic stress affects the body’s hormone production and regulation within the endocrine system. Hormones like insulin can run haywire and cause blood sugar to crash or spike. It poses a significant risk for diseases like diabetes or hyperglycemia. Sex hormones become suppressed, causing libido, energy and mood troubles. With the adrenal glands overproducing stress hormones, individuals can feel chronically burned out and tired. The dangers of chronic stress for hormone and gut balance can’t be understated.
Can CBD Lower Stress?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural extract from hemp that has a range of properties, enabling it to lower stress and calm the mind. It does this by activating receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system via its cannabinoid receptors. Receptors found in the brain, known as type CB1, are the main pathway by which CBD helps users relax. When consumed, it binds to these receptors, enabling calming endocannabinoids such as anandamide to be generated by the body. Anandamide and other endocannabinoids help to alleviate stress by downregulating the stress response, assisting the users to feel calm and suppress anxious thoughts. For this reason, CBD is known as an ‘anxiolytic’ compound, as it can help in mitigating symptoms of anxiety in users.
In contrast to the other prominent cannabinoid, THC, it is also very safe. THC is psychoactive and can worsen feelings of mental distress among those with chronic stress. It has a much greater risk of side effects and can cause issues with dependence and mental illness. CBD, on the other hand, is therapeutic for the mind, non-addictive and helps users to regain balance in their mood.
CBD interacts with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. For example, it acts on the glycine and serotonin receptors, each regulating mood and relaxation. It can downregulate the autonomic arousal process that occurs in the brain through these paths. Disorders of autonomic arousal are thought to be a primary cause of anxiety, and excess activity in this brain area causes heightened cortisol release. It is a regulator of the sympathetic nervous system and stress response. CBD offers a powerful way to combat chronic stress by lowering this activity and calming the nervous system.
Part of the attraction of CBD is its sleep-promoting properties. Cannabinoids like CBN and CBD can help normalise sleep patterns while boosting REM-stage sleep for better recovery. In each case, this is thought to occur via the regulatory effects of the endocannabinoid system in the brain’s circadian centres. It helps to reinforce the natural sleep-wake cycle patterns our brains use as internal clocks, supporting their function and regularity. Further, CBD’s anxiolytic effects help users avoid overactive mental states, racing thoughts and heightened sympathetic nervous system activity before bed. It helps many people nod off much more quickly and get quality sleep by falling asleep on time. These effects can support better mood, mental energy and cognitive performance through more refreshing slumbers. S
In the brain, GABA is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for inhibition. That is, it helps to suppress the activity of other neurotransmitters or brain and CNS activity. GABA is beneficial when it comes to helping with stress due to its ability to inhibit the stress response and sympathetic nervous system. Often, those with chronic stress issues are ‘stuck’ in a sympathetic nervous state, where their body is constantly locked in a ‘fight or flight’ reaction and cortisol release is dangerously extended. Cannabinoids like CBD help stimulate GABA production, enabling the brain to suppress the stress response and calm back into a parasympathetic nervous state. This state is associated with relaxation and recovery in the nervous system, enabling users to feel more at ease and avoid excitatory stress.
Mental Resilience and Mood
Stress can cause mental issues like irritability, mood imbalances, overeating and anxiety. Endocannabinoids like anandamide help to counteract these issues by promoting elevated mood and feelings of ‘bliss’ without causing euphoria. Most users subjectively report they feel at ease within hours of using CBD, and stressors that would typically arouse them are easier to ignore. It can help people manage their impulses, appetite, irritability and emotions more readily through these means.
How to Use CBD for Stress
CBD is an excellent way to help mitigate and control stress when used correctly. It shouldn’t be seen as a magic cure, though. The best results are found when stress is reduced or avoided through therapy and calming practices like exercise, yoga or meditation. Let’s take a look at some principles to keep in mind when taking CBD for stress and how to incorporate it into your daily well-being practices.
CBD Product Selection for Stress
Regarding product choice, the ingestion method isn’t a big concern. You can take CBD as an oil or tincture, using capsules, CBD gummies, vapes or even sublinguals to ingest it. Each is a viable way to use it and will help manage stress. Product types should be chosen based on your tastes and consumption preferences. Gummies, for instance, offer a more tasty way to consume CBD without the earthy musk that oils often have. Primarily, with the product, you will want to seek out full-spectrum CBD to use for stress.
There are several reasons full-spectrum products are best suited for stress management. Firstly, they contain a variety of beneficial minor cannabinoids like CBN and CBG, each of which has its own potent anxiolytic calming properties. Moreover, this CBD product contains naturally occurring aromatic terpene compounds produced by hemp. Terpenes like myrcene or linalool help cannabinoids like CBD be absorbed through the ‘entourage effect’. Terpenes improve cannabinoid receptor permeability and the amount of each cannabinoid your body will absorb. They are synergistic, empowering one another to combat anxiousness and stress feelings better. In addition, they offer stress-relieving effects on their own. Linalool, for instance, is known to support calmness, better mood and parasympathetic nervous activation. It’s the primary terpene in lavender, which is why the plant is known for its calming essential oils.
Another option to look at is broad-spectrum CBD, which benefits from being extra distilled to eliminate any potential THC content. Full-spectrum products are less refined to maximise their terpene, phytonutrient and minor cannabinoid content. But this also makes them more susceptible to containing tiny amounts of THC, which can exacerbate stress. THC causes feelings of paranoia, anxiety and heightened stress response for many people. Avoiding it may be wise if you are concerned. Due to losing some of its terpene and minor cannabinoid content through refinement, broad-spectrum products tend to be less potent. It’s a trade-off you’ll need to consider when weighing these product types for stress relief. Whatever you choose, ensure you select a pure, pure product with no additives and a clear certificate of analysis.
CBD dosage quantities for stress can be tough to get right. A few factors must be considered before calling on how much CBD you need each day to help alleviate stress. For instance, larger individuals need higher doses to achieve the same results as smaller people. Your body mass, metabolism, natural cannabinoid sensitivity, health status and age influence your responsiveness to CBD. Product strength is also essential as higher strength products require less dosage amounts for equivalent quantities of CBD per mL of dose.
With all these moving pieces, getting to a dosage calculation that makes sense can be tricky. It’s easy to overthink, and often, this won’t get you any closer to a good result. An alternative approach is to begin with a few CBD drops per day initially. Try this out for a few weeks and gauge your feelings, reactions, and stress levels. Over time, you can raise the dose if you are tolerating CBD well and think it’s appropriate. Experiment with different dosage levels to find the right amount for your individual needs in time. Patience and consistency are worth exercising to feel the perfect daily dosage range for your stress symptoms.
Consistency and Timing of CBD Use
No matter your product choice and dosage approach, consistency in using CBD always enables the best outcomes for stress. Using it each day means your endocannabinoid system can produce greater levels of endocannabinoids that assist in calming your stress response. Most people don’t notice the effects of CBD immediately, and it can take days or weeks to see tangible benefits take form. Stay persistent, and don’t give up if you aren’t directly experiencing the effects you expected. Increase the dose if needed as you become accustomed to using it.
Timing your CBD intake around stressful events can be helpful to maximise its efficacy in mitigating your stress symptoms. For example, if you know you have a stressful conversation or meeting coming up, using CBD an hour or two before it starts can help calm the nerves and maintain composure. Dosing during the day can often be a great way to mitigate work or study stressors, allowing you to prevent sudden stressors from over-triggering your sympathetic nervous system.
Implementing Other Stress Management Practices
There are many ways that stress can be reduced, avoided or counteracted outside of using CBD. Before taking it, you should understand why you are stressed and its underlying causes. Adding CBD into your regime won’t necessarily help symptoms if the issues leading to your stress continue to strike. Addressing the root cause of symptoms with a doctor or therapist is advised to get guidance on improving your health by limiting chronic stress factors. In addition, regularly taking steps to work on your stress levels and practising self-care techniques like exercising, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, minimising alcohol or smoking, and prioritising sleep can each support your pathway to lowering stress. In addition to these practices, CBD places it in a more influential position to provide results. Combining multiple is often the best way to amplify the stress-lowering powers of each, enabling the best effects.
Explore CBD for Sleep
Using CBD to get better sleep is another method by which you can target stress while building mental resilience against stressors. Taking your CBD dosages an hour or two before bedtime helps many ease to rest more gently, calming their mind and alleviating pre-bed anxiety. Often, those who are chronically stressed suffer from various forms of insomnia and have poorer sleep quality, reduced sleep length and less REM-stage sleep. By counteracting these issues, CBD supports users to recover each night more effectively and refresh their minds. Explore taking your CBD for sleep to obtain these benefits. You’ll likely see better mental energy and mood and reduced sensitivity to stress over time.
CBD has anxiolytic effects by interacting with the brain’s CB1, serotonin and GABA receptors. Through these receptors and the endocannabinoid activity it stimulates, the cannabinoid helps promote mood, lower stress, and alleviate anxiety. Endocannabinoids produced when CBD is ingested, such as anandamide, help to relax the stress response, engage parasympathetic nervous system activity and ease mental distress. Users report feeling more at ease, relaxed and comfortable after taking CBD for stress.
Overthinking and racing thoughts are common symptoms of stress and anxiety. In both cases, CBD can assist due to its anxiolytic properties that help to mitigate anxious thoughts. For those who are neurotic or struggle to control constant overthinking, it can be a valuable tool to assist in calming the mind. It won’t work for everyone but is worth exploring with other therapies, techniques and stress avoidance practices.
For those who are chronically stressed, daily symptoms can be a struggle to manage. As such, many people who turn to CBD expect it to work rapidly and help alleviate stress within minutes or hours. But this isn’t always the case. CBD takes days or weeks to provide actual benefits to most users. While it has more acute effects after ingestion within an hour or two, taking it over a more extended period significantly benefits overall stress levels.
The appropriate CBD dosage for stress varies among individuals, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Generally, it’s recommended to start with a low dose of CBD (e.g., 10-20 mg) and observe your tolerance, any reactions, plus how well it works. Try this for a few days or weeks before re-evaluating your daily dose. Consulting with a doctor can help obtain dosage guidance based on factors such as body weight, health status, and the severity of stress symptoms.
There are different methods to use CBD oil for stress, including sublingual administration, edibles and capsules, vaping, and topical application. It’s crucial to choose a strategy that aligns with individual preferences and consider factors such as onset time and bioavailability. Taking it during the day or night is a viable option to help manage stress levels. CBD at night can help you sleep better and prevent stress from damaging your sleep pattern. Daytime use is better suited to active defence against stressors from work, study or family life.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of stress and searching for relief, CBD could be an excellent option to consider. This is great news since prolonged exposure to anxiety is harmful to your overall health, leading to cardiovascular, immune, neurological, and hormonal degeneration. As a natural extract from hemp, CBD has potent anxiolytic and calming properties that can help you relax, reduce stress, and sleep better. When purchasing a CBD product for stress management, seek out full-spectrum formulations that enable you to benefit from therapeutic terpenes and minor cannabinoids. Combining it with lifestyle modifications, stress management practices, and limiting stressful situations can help you achieve the best possible results.