“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’ ” – Eckhart Tolle
Stress is unavoidable. Even the most mindful Tibetan monks suffer from bouts of anxiety and nervousness. Modern-day pharmaceutical science offers up multitudes of treatment options to combat the feeling, but they can be expensive, addictive and include unpleasant side effects.
For those with severe or chronic conditions that require prescription medication, please have a conversation with your doctor before quitting or altering your dosage. But for those with mild and irregular bouts of stress, it may be worth your while to consider natural treatments.
Surveys demonstrate the efficacy of cannabis for stress relief and relaxation
Cannabis has been known to be a stress reliever for centuries. As more jurisdictions allow for medical marijuana programs, more and more Americans are finding cannabis works just fine as a stress aid. In fact, a Yahoo News and Marist College survey revealed that nearly 35 million adults in America consume marijuana. And of that cohort, 37 percent turned to cannabis for relaxation.
A study conducted in the UK verifies this survey. According to the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit, relaxation and stress relief are overwhelmingly the most commonly perceived benefits of cannabis use.
Cannabis Studies Show Stress Reduction
Researchers from Washington State University may finally have discovered scientific evidence that cannabis reduces stress. The 2017 study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that regular cannabis users were significantly better at keeping their cool under stressful situations compared to those who did not use marijuana.
“This is to my knowledge one of the first scientific studies to provide guidance on the strains and quantities of cannabis people should be seeking out for reducing stress, anxiety and depression,” said study author Carrie Cuttler in a news release. “Currently, medical and recreational cannabis users rely on the advice of bud tenders whose recommendations are based off of anecdotal not scientific evidence.”
Just One Meditation Session Reduces Stress
According to a study from Michigan Technological University, a single session of mindfulness meditation has a significant effect on the anxiety of people with mild-moderate anxiety.
The report revealed that a single 60-minute session of mindfulness meditation was enough to reduce participants’ anxiety—sometimes profoundly, Forbes reported earlier this year. The team had people with anxiety do a meditation that consisted of 20 minutes introductory meditation, 30 minutes of body scanning, and 10 minutes of self-guided meditation. Their anxiety was measured with the Beck Anxiety Inventory and heart health measured via tests of heart rate variability, resting blood pressure, and pulse wave analysis, which measures blood vessel stiffness.
Participants reported less anxiety immediately after the treatment and a week later. Their cardiovascular measures also improved.
“Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after the meditation session, and our preliminary results suggest that anxiety was significantly lower one week after the meditation session,” said study author John J. Durocher in a statement. “Participants also had reduced mechanical stress on their arteries an hour after the session. This could help to reduce stress on organs like the brain and kidneys and help prevent conditions such as high blood pressure.”
Put Marijuana and Meditation Together
If you are looking for a double dose of chill, combine a low dose of cannabis with a mindful meditation session.
Meditation With Cannabis
Start by consuming a small amount of cannabis. It is easier to control the dose by smoking or vaping, but other methods work. Keep in mind that edibles or beverages take longer to take effect. Meditating with cannabis does not require a large dose, so start low and go slow.
When the cannabis begins to take effect, sit still or lay flat on your back and focus on your body. Concentrate on each body part separately starting from your toes. Hold the tension in that body part and then slowly release the tension and relax.
Move the focus to your feet, legs, thighs, hips, back, and stomach. Then concentrate on the muscles in your fingers, hands, arms, shoulder, neck, face, forehead.
Throughout the meditation, focus on taking relaxed, deep breaths. Exhale slowly and with purpose. After focusing on your entire body, stay in your position and turn your concentration inward. Feel the relaxed state.
Practice Makes Perfect
For many of us, meditation does not come naturally. But remember: There is no such thing as meditating incorrectly. Just breathe. Concentrate. Relax. And let cannabis be a tool in your meditative practice.