The Fourth of July holiday is a time to celebrate. It can also be an incredibly stressful time for those who are sensitive to crowds, bustle, and loud noises. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can enhance negative responses to crowded places and sudden, loud sounds like fireworks. Feelings of anxiety are not confined to the holiday itself; they can begin during the days leading up to the Fourth of July, and continue for a week or more afterward.
Anxiolytics, or medications that reduce stress and anxiety, come in many forms and can help manage the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that may be triggered during the holiday. Cannabis can be a highly effective stress-reduction agent, either on its own or in addition to your regular medication regimen. Always talk to your doctor to learn how (if you have questions about the way cannabis interacts with your home medications, please ask your doctor, or consult one of the Verdes Nurse Educators).
Cannabis products that can effectively reduce anxiety often include high amounts of CBD. This compound has been known to decrease anxiety by interfering with activity in the areas of the brain that are involved in negative emotion, such fear and worry.
Finding Relief with a high CBD to THC ratio
CBD and THC act synergistically and are often most effective when used in combination. Incorporating high-doses of CBD into your cannabis regimen at least one week before a stressful event will allow time for this beneficial compound to build in your system and produce noticeably calming effects. CBD tinctures, both in isolate and whole plant form, are easy and effective ways to get your daily dose of CBD. As a reminder, CBD has the potential to interfere with the action of some prescriptions and should be spaced at least one hour from home medications.
Inhaling flower or cannabis oil with a vape pen is the fastest-acting delivery method and can produce almost immediate calming effects when quick relief is needed. Flower selections high in the terpenes Linalool and Limonene, especially in combination with CBD, can act as powerful anxiolytics. Our flower is always labeled with the top two terpenes in each strain, so patients can easily choose medicine with a terpene profile that best fits their needs.
Edibles are also excellent anxiolytics and can produce sustained relaxation for 5-10 hours. Cannabis products with both THC and CBD, can be dissolved in the mouth or even mixed into a beverage to create a hydrating, calming drink to beat the summer heat.
Fending off anxiety during highly stressful times requires a multifaceted approach which can include adding non-cannabis options to your wellness regimen. Many patients find success using a product called Rescue Remedy. It has proven to be effective and safe for anxious pets and children too. If you are interested in Rescue Remedy, you can find it at Whole Foods and Sprouts Markets.
Along with an effective cannabis regimen, prescribed home medications and other supplements, self-care and mindfulness are essential. In the days approaching any stressful event, it can be helpful to turn our focus inward, listening to the sometimes-subtle signs our bodies give us before anxiety reaches a tipping point. Engaging in activities that bring us joy can enhance our sense of wellbeing can greatly reduce stress, especially if done regularly in the days leading up to an anxiety-provoking event. Some patients have reported enjoying activities including:
- Visiting with family
- Going on a bike ride
- Reading a good book
- Soaking in the bath
- Creating art
Engaging in activities like these or any hobbies you enjoy can increase dopamine levels in your brain and help relieve stress. During the weeks leading up to a potentially anxiety inducing event, make time to do activities you love at least one more time during the week than you would usually.
With this knowledge, try combining some or all these tips to create a Fourth of July experience you’ll enjoy.
-Liz, Verdes Nurse Educator