How many people are using cannabis for mental health reasons? Well, when you think about it, all of them. Because whether you are a patient with a medical card and symptoms you are trying to manage or a recreational user, it doesn’t matter. There can be some emotional benefits to creating a weekend smoke sesh to relax and unwind.
Opponents to cannabis legalization would say that the number of Americans using weed has increased. That’s not really true. What the end of prohibition could mean is that people living in the United States have a controlled and legal way to access it. Not in the parking lot behind a bar or some dude on a bicycle that delivers to your door. But it is not how many Americans using pot that matters. It’s why they are using it.
If you haven’t watched “High Maintenance,” you are missing out. Because what the show’s writers have done is portray the real face of cannabis use for most people in the United States. With excessive use, it’s not about getting ‘wasted’ or greening out. It’s about using something natural to alleviate debilitating symptoms, stress, and anxiety.
That’s definitely not what the folks who do not want to see cannabis legalized think. They are imagining massive pot parties, with people diving into pools from the balcony. Yeah, that was college, maybe for some people. But not the rest of us grownups.
What Stress? Giving Yourself Permission to Wake, Bake, and Flake Out on the Couch
If you are finding the stress of the holidays, the global pandemic (what’s stressful about that?) [insert blank stare], or anything else, taking a day to yourself is okay. It’s more than okay; it can be essential to your emotional survival through and after the post-holiday rush.
Resting and relaxing on a Sunday? You are allowed. Not only can it benefit your mental health, but reducing stress can also help strengthen your immune system. And that matters right now more than ever.
It is okay to acknowledge burnout. And not be embarrassed for feeling tired and worn out. Because the truth is, the pandemic alone has taken a big toll and bites out of morale for most Americans. And while we are waiting for ‘normal’ or the ‘new normal’ to return, it’s important to take time to care for our mental health.
Relaxation is the opposite of what most Americans are doing through year two of the pandemic, however. Some surveys show that people who work from home are putting in longer hours than ever before.
1. Make Sure You Have Food and Water for Your Smoke Sesh
If you are trying a new potency or strain of cannabis, results can vary. You can’t be entirely sure how it will affect you. This is why trying a new strain on a weekend (rather than a weeknight) is a good idea. It gives you time just in case you feel any grogginess.
Before you start, grab a snack and some water. That’s what they make coffee tables for, anyhow. That way, if for some reason you end up couch-locked, you can hydrate yourself. Nothing is worse than having “cotton mouth” and feeling like the kitchen is more than a little too far to go get a drink.
If you are watching your calories, look for strains of Indica that have appetite suppressant qualities. Your dispensary will be able to recommend strains with the lower potential to stimulate “the munchies.” This can be helpful for people with diabetes as well, to reduce carbohydrate intake while addressing pain from neuropathy.
2. Try a New Indica Strain and Terpene Profile
Sativa cannabis makes you happy. Some strains can create psychoactive effects like high energy, talkativeness, and creative thought. That is great if you want to be productive. But if slowing things down and relaxing is your goal, an Indica is a better choice.
If you aren’t used to intaking Indica strains, start with a low potency. If you have a lower tolerance to over-the-counter sedative remedies, chances are a low-potency Indica will be effective for you. You may be able to achieve symptom relief from anxiety, pain, muscle spasms, and other issues with a lower potency.
Terpenes have a lot to do with relaxation and stress relief. They are the reason why there is so much variety in the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana. If you want to relax and have a nap, a strain with Linalool can help. Plants with high Linalool terpene content have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. And it can also help with anxiety.
Myrcene is another terpene found naturally in certain strains of cannabis and fruits like mangoes. Herbs like lemongrass, basil, and thyme can also have high Myrcene content. It is a natural sedative. And if you can’t find a strain with a high Myrcene content, you can make a snack and consume the terpene to augment your smoke sesh.
3. Find a Comfy Place
Is there anything better than stretching out on your couch? Grab a pillow and a blanket. With all your supplies on the coffee table, it makes for the perfect place to relax. If you don’t live alone, you may want some privacy and choose another spot like your bedroom.
Why do most people choose the couch? Smoking cannabis can get messy. A rolling tray can help contain your herb, and you can set it on your night table as well. Then grab the remote or your laptop, prop yourself up and chill.
4. Consume Your Cannabis
Pack, blaze, inhale, repeat. If you aren’t familiar with the strain you are using, go slow. Take a puff, and wait at least ten minutes and evaluate before you take more. Pink Floyd may have been “Uncomfortably Numb,” but that’s not the goal. Comfortably relaxed is better.
If smokable cannabis isn’t your choice, the same holds true for tinctures and edibles. For some reason, many people feel that non-smokable types of cannabis are not as potent. That’s how ‘greening out’ happens when you take too much. You can experience symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and even paranoia if you get too high.
Unless you are a seasoned and experienced cannabis user, go slow. And remember that all types of cannabis have a cumulative effect that can last 5-7 hours. Don’t overload the amount you take, thinking it will last longer that way. You can end up feeling pretty miserable. And in extreme cases, end up in an emergency room with uncontrolled vomiting.
5. Entertain Yourself During Your Smoke Sesh With Something Relaxing
Some of the deepest and most meaningful bonding conversations with your dog or cat can happen when you are high. If you are wondering whether your pet can tell that you are high? They can smell cannabis. But it’s the shift in your anxiety level that they like the best.
Also, the fact that you probably aren’t going to move very much after you get high during your smoke sesh. Don’t be surprised if your pet moves in for a big snuggle on the couch. They can feel your sedate mood, and they find it relaxing for them too.
Do not blow smoke or give your pet access to cannabis. Dogs and cats have more cannabinoid receptors than we do. It can mess them up. So, crack a window before you blow clouds. To entertain yourself, cue Netflix or a great movie. Reading a book may be relaxing, but with an Indica strain, you could find yourself on the same page. For a long, long time.
6. Nap If You Want To
When you were a kid, you would probably do anything not to take a nap. Because that meant you were probably missing all the fun and action. But as an adult, sleep deprivation is a thing. If you want to learn how bad the problem actually is in the United States, check out “The State of Sleep Health In America.” It is a resource page from the Sleep Apnea Association of America.
Your body and brain on inadequate sleep aren’t pretty. Sleep deprivation can impact your weight (tired people eat more carbohydrates [sugar] for fuel). It can impact your mood, making you feel irritable and causing symptoms of anxiety and depression. And lack of healthy rest does a number on your immune system.
So, if your weekend bake results in not staying awake? Consider it a victory. Grown-ups are allowed to nap. In fact, we need to. Over 11% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep every night. And more than 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder that impacts their health.
Stretch out and enjoy. Because when you take time to rest, nap, and relax, you are lowering your stress levels. And with it, reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Many chronic health conditions, from thyroid dysfunction to cancer, may be caused by high cortisol levels. During your nap, and for a period after you wake up, your body will enjoy lower levels of cortisol.