Managing Stress and Anxiety
Monday, February 8, 2021 • 9 minute read
What is anxiety?
Familiar with butterflies in the stomach? Anxiety is a feeling of unease or worry. Anxiety is felt and triggered uniquely for everyone by specific situations.
We all suffer occasionally from common or mild forms of anxiety, like clammy hands or an increased heart rate before a first date or an important interview. However, for some anxiety suffers, everyday situations trigger debilitating feelings. Imagine queuing for a huge rollercoaster with a fear of heights; your mouth is dry, your heart is pounding, your head is spinning, and you’re utterly dreading it!
The bad news is anxiety seems to be on the rise. Some suggest this is due to the prevalence and associated pressures of social media, more stressful jobs, and increased sleep deprivation. In England, 1 in 6 people experience a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
The good news is CBD element are here to help!
It is important to mention that there are many complex reasons and factors that researchers believe may cause anxiety. If you are experiencing severe anxiety and it’s affecting your everyday life, we urge you to speak to a medical professional. Severe anxiety can manifest as struggling to maintain relationships, a lack of energy, and or feeling depressed. Anxiety can be a sign of an underlying condition that a medical professional can support you with. Various treatment options are available such as CBT (cogitative behavioural therapy) and prescription drugs.
Ready for some physiology?
Physiological changes take place as your body responds to stress. This is when your hypothalamus, a region in the brain, steps in! The hypothalamus releases the hormones noradrenaline and cortisol, that in turn activate a part of your nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight or flight response. Our parasympathetic nervous system is the other side of the coin, and kicks in when stress is over to help you to calm down.
The hypothalamus oversees our level of response to stress by responding to any trigger with the correct severity level reaction. For minor issues or triggers, like missing a train, the appropriate response is only a small amount of stress, with no requirement to dampen our immune and digestive systems. For more serious triggers including life or death situations, a much more intense response is appropriate to maximise our chances of survival, such as redirecting blood from the intestines to muscles to provide them with as much oxygen and energy as possible.
The feeling of anxiety is caused by the hypothalamus overreacting to stress triggers. The greater the overreaction, the more intense the feeling of anxiety. The reactions our hypothalamus manages is unique to everyone, and so is the feeling of anxiety. For instance, it may be normal for your heart rate to increase before an important presentation. However, for a person suffering from a social anxiety disorder, a full stress response can be triggered just by the thought of meeting new people.
How can CBD help my anxiety?
Now you understand how the feeling of anxiety is created by our bodies, it is time to answer your burning question. How can CBD help with your anxiety?
It is believed that CBD may act directly at the source of anxiety, on the hypothalamus. CBD works on the ingenious endocannabinoid system, that is thought to play a crucial role in balancing your stress response to any trigger or environment. The endocannabinoid system is partly made up of cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 receptors, that can be found in the hypothalamus. As CBD acts on these receptors it may help to stop anxious feelings by making you less sensitive to minor stresses.
CBD may also assist anxiety by dampening the sympathetic nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Two studies found that CBD is thought to increase the activity of the GABA neurotransmitter which boosts the parasympathetic nervous system. Whilst other research suggests CBD may interfere with the secretion of cortisol, one of the stress-promoting neurotransmitters released by the hypothalamus, therefore dampening the sympathetic nervous system. Other promising small-scale studies involving human volunteers showed that CBD may reduce anxiety for public speakers, with researchers utilising neuroimaging, simulated public speaking events.
How do I take CBD for anxiety?
Let’s start with your daily dosage.
CBD Element recommend starting with a low total daily dose that can be increased slowly to reach your desired effect. Be cautious with your dose to ensure you do not experience side effects and use our dosage calculator as a guide.
Other users also prefer vaping products to benefit from a faster delivery, working instantly.
Everyone’s anxiety and triggers are different, so we recommend that you experiment to work out what’s best for you.
What other Lifestyle changes can manage anxiety?
CBD Element are proud to provide balanced information to help you live a healthier life. CBD is not a wonder-drug that will cure all your anxious feelings. The truth is CBD should be used as part of a wider toolkit to keep your anxiety at bay.
Here are some of our other Lifestyle tips:
Know your triggers
The first step toward treating anxiety is to identify your stress triggers. Keep a mental track of when your anxiety appears and what events or thoughts may have led to that reaction.
Keep it Zen
We recommend mindfulness meditation to help you with managing your thoughts and triggers. Yoga is a great breath-based exercise that is very effective in relieving stress and managing anxiety when done regularly.
Regular exercise can burn off the adrenalized feeling of stress, and release feel good chemicals such as anandamide into your body.
Treat your body like a temple
Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid recreational drugs and smoking, as well as trying to avoid or minimize your alcohol and caffeine intake. Remember, your body will only feel good if you treat and fuel it well!
Get a good night’s sleep
Never underestimate the importance of sleep. Sleep helps to re-frame your mind and alleviate the stresses of daily life. Conveniently CBD may help you get your beauty sleep.
Box-breathing, also known as square breathing, is a very effective stress reliever. This is effectively breathing in for 4 seconds and holding for 4 seconds. Following this breathing pattern for 2 to 3 mins will tap into the parasympathetic nervous system helping you to relax.
Excessive social media use for some people can cause negative feelings of low self-esteem. Have a break once and a while and enjoy being in the moment
Anything else I should know about CBD and anxiety?
The traditional scepticism of CBD’s effects to treat anxiety are shifting, as the scientific community completes more research. Anecdotally, many people report that CBD has transformed their relationship with anxiety. There is still a gap between anecdotal evidence and evidence gathered from large-scale random controlled trials, but the UK is making great steps to conduct more large-scale research. One project underway is backed by the Royal College of Psychiatry, covering a huge population of 20,000 patients. This is the largest medical cannabis trial in Europe and will provide much needed long-term data.
We at CBD Element will keep you updated with new evidence and scientific breakthroughs concerning all things CBD.
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- Cannabinoids: influence on neurotransmitter uptake in rat brain synaptosomes, Ap Banerjee, S H Snyder, and R Mechoulam
- The Direct Actions of Cannabidiol and 2-Archidonoyl Glycerol at GABBA Receptors, Tim Bakas, Petra S Can Nieuwenhuijen, S O Devenish, Iain S Mcgregor, Jonathon C Arnold, and Mary Chebib
- Effect of Cannabidiol on Plasma Prolactin, Growth Hormone and Cortisol in Human Volunteers, A W Zuardi, F S Guimaraes, A C Moreira
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- Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol on human experimental anxiety, A W Zuardi, R A Cosme, F G Graeff, and F S Guimaraes
- Project Twenty21: Europe’s Largest medical cannabis patient trial launches.
- Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders, Alline Cristina Campos, et al.
- CBD In the UK: Executive Summary, Blair Gibbs, Andrew Yates, and Jon Liebling