Updated on January 17, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The pandemic. It has almost been one year since the Novel Covid-19 coronavirus appeared in America. What started as news from China about a flu-like virus was concerning. When the first cases in the United States showed up, we were not prepared. There is a reason why Sativa was top-selling in 2020.
The last global pandemic was the Spanish flu virus of 1918. And none of us were prepared for the changes that a pandemic would bring, from the necessity to wear masks and use sanitizer to social distancing from family and friends. And for some Americans, the pandemic has meant the loss of employment, income, and tragically, lost family and friends.
Know anyone who isn’t stressed? We don’t either. But right now, amid the pandemic, and the adversities, it has never been more important to take care of yourself. That means the usual eating well, exercising, taking your vitamins. And it also means taking a ‘time out’ daily for self-care.
Recalibrating your body and mind when you are stressed is a challenge. First, you have to remember to treat stress like it is a health condition. Because it is, when you experience chronic ongoing stress, it can set off a chemical chain reaction that tanks your immune system. Chronic stress also contributes to chronic inflammation, which increases your risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and arthritis.
Stress is a Deal Breaker for the Human Body
Stress is a big problem. Do you know how to recognize the signs of long-term or chronic stress? For everyone, the symptoms of anxiety are a combination of emotional and physiological responses. And sometimes the characters are so small that we miss them entirely.
People diagnosed with chronic stress can often be surprised. Sure, they felt stressed, but they may not have noticed it. Believe it or not, when you experience severe and prolonged stress, it can become your ‘new normal.’ You can’t remember a time before you felt anxiety and fatigue. You learn how to deal with it daily.
Some studies suggest that chronic stress can change your DNA. Telomeres create a protective casing at the end of a strand of DNA. When cells split and divide, they lose some of the telomeres. Then the enzyme telomerase repairs the protecting coating over each DNA strand. However, if your body has high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, it lowers the telomerase, and then the cell dies.
Don’t worry; about 1 million cells die naturally in your body every minute of the day. But when a cell dies, it becomes pro-inflammatory. It causes inflammation. And that increases early aging and chronic disease health risks.
Stress sends signals to our brain that divert energy and essential function for an immediate defensive response. That reaction takes resources away from our immune system. People with chronic stress are immune-compromised and may not know it.
Stress May Be the Reason That Some People Get Life-Threatening Infections from Covid-19
Researchers are still learning about Covid-19. One of the questions that everyone has about the virus is, “why do some people get it worse than others?” For some, the Novel Covid-19 coronavirus might be very mild symptoms for a few days or a week. And for others, acute pneumonia means emergency hospital care.
As the global medical community tries to understand Covid-19, it is drawing similarities between cases. Patients that get the most severe symptoms have some things in common. People who are deficient in vitamins B12 and D may be more susceptible.
Those that smoke tobacco products have also been found to have more severe symptoms of Covid-19. But stress is one of the most strongly correlated symptoms—particularly for people with chronic long-term stress.
Chronic stress can also make vaccines less effective. In one study of dementia patients and their caregivers, individuals with chronic stress had lowered antibody response levels. What that means is that their immune systems were not able to respond to the vaccine and people who did not have chronic stress.
The clinical study is particularly relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social and political stressors are high in the United States. America is facing historic levels of unemployment that have not been seen since the Great Depression. Combined with a high level of pre-existing chronic diseases, Americans may be more susceptible to Covid-19. And less able to fight off the most severe outcomes of the virus.
Why Are Sativa Strains of Cannabis Good For Stress?
After a few drinks, you may feel relaxed, but did you know that alcohol is a depressant? So, if you are already feeling a low mood, drinking alcohol is unlikely to make you feel happy. Or energetic. But something that could work is a good cannabis Sativa.
You may have noticed that most Sativa strains share common side-effects. They can make you feel really happy and relaxed, even if you have been feeling stressed out. Sativa strains are often described as:
What you may not be expecting if you are new to Sativa strains is the “perma-smile” that some will give you. You may have had the worst day/week/month ever, but you are going to be grinning about it in no time. Some strains also come with a side-order of giggles. And nothing is better for stress relief than a gut-splitting giggle sesh, even if it is with your dog.
Unlike Indica strains that can make you forget what you went to the kitchen for, Sativa’s can make you feel smarter. More energetic and creative. This is not just conjecture, though. A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology from Britain discovered something interesting. Sativa strains of cannabis that are high in THCV reduce the memory impairment that usually accompanies your THC ‘high’. They are not sure how it does it, but it works for many people. For that reason, many people prefer a Sativa strain for daytime use. It helps them reduce stress and anxiety without impairing memory or cognitive processes.
Sativa Strains With a +Happy Boost
There are many Sativa cannabis strains that will give you a gentle energy boost while helping you manage symptoms of depression or anxiety. But some strains are better than others. And when you are at your local dispensary, you can ask your budtender about the kind of strains that are known mood-boosters.
Some of the Sativa strains you may want to try including Maui Wowie, Laughing Buddha, or Blue Diesel at your local dispensary. Other strains, including Purple Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Soul Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, or Green Crack, are also known for being “happy” weed.
Self-Care Things to Do at Home with Sativa
Social distancing got you bummed? You are not alone. When you combine the stress of the pandemic and economic concerns and all the other strange things going on during Covid-19, it is normal to feel a little stressed. A study from September 2020 by researchers at Boston University School of Public Health reported that diagnoses of depression had increased more than three times the normal average in the United States. Thanks to the pandemic.
Since we know that anxiety and depression can lower immune system defenses and make it harder to stay healthy, it’s essential to take time out. Slow things down a little if you feel stressed and engage in some relaxing self-care to discharge your chronic stress.
Here are five healthy (and easy) things you can do with your favorite Sativa strain at home to help moderate your mood and stress levels:
1. Cook Something from Scratch
Do you usually eat takeout? Cooking yourself a decadent and healthy meal at home from scratch can be therapeutic. Bypass UberEats and Google a recipe you would like to try. Sometimes we only cook great meals when we have company coming over. Indulge yourself and enjoy the therapeutic benefit of being chill and creative in your kitchen. Then Instagram it to inspire others.
2. Take a Long Hot Bath
Are you a shower person? Most of us enjoy a good, long hot bath, but a busy schedule does not always allow for it. Grab your bong and head to the bathroom. Throw in some bath bongs or a CBD bubble bath with aromatic terpenes. Terpenes provide natural aromatherapeutic benefits. Smoke up and soak it up for optimal relaxation.
3. Play an Artificial Intelligence Game With a Friend
If you want a quick and easy way to chat with your friend and play a fun game, check out the A.I. games available on Facebook. Check out this link for instructions on how to video call your buddies on Facebook Messenger and then play one of the cool competitive games. They are funnier after you have smoked.
4. Do Some YouTube Meditation
You don’t have to be an expert Yogi to get the emotional and physiological benefits of meditation. Nothing reduces your blood pressure and stress level faster than some deep breathing and perhaps a yoga pose or two. Stretching also helps your body discharge cortisol (the stress hormone).
Grab a blanket or a big cushion from your couch and try it out. If you don’t want to do a led meditation on video, you can do it quietly on your own—light some incense or a candle for aromatherapy benefits. Close your eyes, and practice deep breathing. There are many free playlists on YouTube to help you zone out.
5. Get Artsy!
Grab your mask and hand sanitizer, and take a quick trip to your local dollar store. Getting creative doesn’t have to be expensive. Most dollar stores have art supplies, including paints, brushes, and small canvases. This is great since you can have a lot of fun without making a huge mess.
Create something fun. Paint with your eyes closed, or maybe try finger painting. That sensory change in activity and getting your hands dirty can be very therapeutic and relaxing. Take your Sativa and then unleash your creativity to give your brain and mood a boost.
Life gets busy, between work and other obligations you have. Reserve at least 30 minutes to one hour every day for a small act of self-care. It will help you lower your stress levels and strengthen your immune system. All work and no play make Jack a dull (and stressed out) boy. Consider it a healthcare necessity.