Do stress and anxiety stop you from enjoying your life?
If so, you may have heard about CBD…
That’s because CBD is highly effective at relieving anxiety, stress, and the various symptoms they cause.
Best of all, it is completely natural and safe to use.
Below I want to quickly cover some types of stress, then highlight 3 ways CBD can help.
I’ll also share some quick examples of how to actually use CBD gummies and other types of products.
Read on to learn more.
The Benefits of “Good Stress”
We all feel anxious and stressed at times.
Whether it’s the night before a big work presentation or the day of a job interview, certain situations just naturally cause us to stress and worry.
Luckily, most of these acute cases of stress and anxiety are normal and nothing to worry about.
In fact, acute stress can actually be good for you.
Over thousands of years, our bodies have relied on stress it to keep us alive.
Imagine you’re walking through the jungle and you spot a tiger in the clearing in front of you.
Your brain immediately reacts and calls on your adrenal glands to pump epinephrine and cortisol into your blood.
The epinephrine (or adrenaline) helps sharpen your senses, improves your reflexes, and helps you focus.
The cortisol, on the other hand, helps extract glucose from your tissue into the bloodstream, giving your body an extra burst of energy.
All these things help you react to the situation and escape your predator.
In these kinds of circumstances, stress quite literally saves your life.
But stress can be beneficial in other ways, too.
Small doses of stress can help you focus and stay motivated to meet the challenges you face in life.
In fact, a growing body of research shows that dealing with moderate, manageable amounts of stress on a regular basis is good for our health.
Researchers from UCLA, for example, studied a number of people over several years and examined how their exposure to stress affected their mental health.
The researchers found that those people who experienced moderate amounts of stress reported better mental health and well-being than people who experience high amounts of stress or no stress at all.
This suggests that, although we tend to think of stress as almost exclusively “bad,” a moderate and manageable amount of it may actually be good for our health.
There are many theories on why this might be.
In an article for Psychology Today, Doctor Melanie Greenberg suggests that experiencing some stress might help make us “hardier” and become better able to face and adapt to the challenges of life in the future.
Dr Greenberg also says that dealing with stress may help reduce our fear of change and show us that we’re capable of adapting to new situations and circumstances.
For a more detailed look at some of the ways stress may be good for us, I highly recommend reading Dr Greenberg’s full article in Psychology Today here.
Understanding the Negative Effects of Stress
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not dealing the “good stress” I just mentioned.
Instead, you’re probably dealing with persistent, chronic symptoms of stress and anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
These might include:
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulties focusing or learning
Chances are that you’re already aware of the negative impacts of this kind of chronic stress.
The negative effects of constant stress are multifaceted and, when dragged out for prolonged periods of time, can be very serious.
Below is a basic overview of some of the negative effects stress has on the body and brain:
How Stress Affects the Body
In response to stress, our adrenal glands produce 3 stress hormones known as epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine.
These hormones travel around the body via the blood and produce a variety of different effects.
Epinephrine, for example, causes the heart to beat faster and increases blood pressure, which can lead to tachycardia and hypertension in people with chronic stress.
Cortisol, on the other hand, can affect the blood vessels and cause atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque on the inner lining of the vessels).
Combine an increased heart rate, hypertension, and atherosclerosis, and you’ve got some of the main risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
Stress can also have a direct effect on your gastrointestinal system.
When your brain senses stress, it may activate your enteric nervous system, which is basically a network of neurons layered throughout the GI tract.
It’s this connection between your brain and gut that can cause that iconic feeling of butterflies in your stomach, for example.
Thanks to this connection, chronic stress can also cause more serious problems, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and heartburn.
Stress can also directly affect your appetite.
Remember, one of cortisol’s key roles is to get energy stores into your bloodstream.
As a result, cortisol can also increase your appetite and induce cravings, especially for nutrient-dense foods like carbs.
Cortisol can also increase your body fat levels, which can cause all kinds of different health problems.
Finally, chronic stress can also affect the function of your immune cells and make you more susceptible to infections.
For a great animation on the effects of stress on the body, make sure to check out this TED-Ed video:
How Stress Affects the Brain
Besides physically changing your body, stress and anxiety can also directly affect physiology and functioning of your brain.
Continually high levels of cortisol, for example, can decrease electrical signaling in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and creating memories.
Research also shows that cortisol can cause the brain to shrink, known as cerebral atrophy.
This can cause all kinds of complications.
A shrunken prefrontal cortex, for example, can decrease your abilities to concentrate, make decisions, and interact socially.
Chronic stress can also affect neurogenesis and stop your brain from being able to create new, healthy brain cells.
This can increase your risks of developing depression, anxiety disorders, or even Alzheimer’s disease.
While stress causes some parts of the brain to shrink, it can also cause others to grow.
Chronic stress has been shown to increase the size of the amygdala, making a person more receptive to stress in the future.
In fact, in another article for Psychology Today, professional athlete and coach Christopher Bergland writes that the changes stress makes to the brain can create a kind of “domino effect” that leaves people constantly predisposed to stress in the future.
For a more detailed look at the effects constant stress can have on the brain, make sure to check out this animation by TED Ed called How Stress Affects Your Brain:
3 Reasons Why CBD Helps Ease Stress and Anxiety
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re well aware of the crippling effects of stress and anxiety.
Luckily, CBD can help:
CBD Gummies for Anxiety and Stress
CBD stimulates your Endocannabinoid System. In doing so, the CBD gummies you consume, or whatever form of CBD you take may reduce both the acute and long-term symptoms of stress and anxiety. This is because the Endocannabinoid System can directly affect our emotions, mood, and the way we process potentially stressful stimuli.
Here are the details:
1. CBD Can Increase Serotonin Levels in the Brain
Anxiety is often treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs, also known as SSRIs.
These include drugs like Citalopram, Prozac, and Zoloft.
These drugs work by targeting certain serotonin receptors in the brain and inhibiting their activity.
This essentially slows down the absorption of serotonin, leading to a temporary increase of serotonin in the brain.
Now, how does this work to reduce stress and anxiety?
Well, serotonin naturally helps stabilize our mood, emotions, and response to stress.
In fact, conditions like anxiety and depression where previously thought to be caused by low serotonin levels, although new research shows that isn’t true.
By increasing serotonin levels in the brain, some patients feel happier, calmer, more focused, and more stable (both emotionally and mentally).
CBD, like SSRIs, can temporarily increase serotonin levels in the brain. Research suggests it does so by acting on serotonin receptor 5-HT1A.
There have been numerous studies into the anxiolytic effects of CBD. One study, for example, showed it reduce the anxiety of public speaking in patients with social phobias.
2. CBD Can Help You Grow New Brain Cells
Remember how stress and anxiety can cause shrinkage in certain parts of the brain?
Well, it turns out CBD might be able to reverse some of that damage.
There’s a solid body of research that shows CBD promotes neurogenesis.
More specifically, studies show that CBD can directly promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus, a part of the brain which is often smaller in patients with anxiety and depression.
This can help people with anxiety stay focused, learn new skills, make new memories, and much more.
Some research even suggests that CBD’s potential to boost neurogenesis can help people with Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and much more.
3. CBD Can Increase Anandamide Levels in the Brain
Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally produced by the body’s Endocannabinoid System.
It’s more commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule” because it produces feelings of euphoria, happiness, reduced pain, and more.
Studies show that CBD can temporarily increase anandamide levels in key areas of the brain, including the hippocampus.
Like with serotonin, increasing anandamide levels in the brain can help reduce anxiety and its symptoms, and instead induce a kind of calm euphoria.
It can help reduce anxiety, change our response to stress, and even calm depressive or anxious behavior.
In fact, higher anandamide levels have even been shown to reduce pain sensations.
How to Use CBD for Stress and Anxiety
My wife, Sara, regularly suffers from stress and anxiety.
She works a high-pressure office job and carries a lot of responsibility.
And while she loves the work, it definitely takes its toll on her.
She often comes home feeling nervous and on edge, moody, restless, and agitated.
Sometimes her anxiety and stress keep her up late into the evening, even if she feels physically exhausted.
Luckily, CBD has really helped her deal with these symptoms.
Here are some ways Sara has used CBD to deal with the stress and anxiety from her work:
- CBD Gummies for Daytime Relief: CBD gummies are delicious and easy to use. Sara often uses them during her workday to take the edge before a big meeting, presentation, or deadline.
- CBD Oils for Better Sleep: Like many other people with anxiety and stress issues, Sara struggles to fall asleep in the evenings and often wakes up feeling drained and exhausted. However, she finds a single dose of CBD oil roughly 30 minutes before bed helps her fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.
- CBD Creams for Skin Problems, Pain, and Relaxation: Sara uses a wide variety of CBD beauty products including balms, lotions, bath bombs, and more. Not only have they helped her deal with skin conditions like acne, but she also finds they help her unwind and relax.
Beat Anxiety and Stress With CBD
If you suffer from stress and anxiety like Sara, I highly recommend trying CBD.
While there are all kinds of ways you can use CBD, I find gummies are great for long-lasting relief from stress and anxiety all throughout the day.
For more information on CBD and how it works, make sure to keep reading my blog.
Finally, also check out my homepage where I review a wide variety of CBD products and brands.