With the elections around the corner, a heightened sense of anxiety over the uncertainty of the future is felt in the air. Many U.S. adults contribute the 2020 U.S. presidential election as a primary source of stress. People are expected to carry on with a smile despite the staggering issues ranging from police brutality, discrimination, COVID-19, healthcare and the rise of massive unemployment in the US. According to an article by the American Psychological Association entitled, “Americans Are Stressed About The Presidential Election”, people who experience persistent stress and anxiety over a long period of time are likely to have their physical as well as mental health compromised. Thank goodness for Mari Juana, insert prayer hand emoji here. In this guide, we offer some tips to help manage your mood and elevate your smoking experience during this upcoming Election Day.
Get High + Think Highly
Do you get high and then start thinking of the worst case scenarios? Read more to learn about how your thoughts impact your emotions.
What kind of stoner are you? Do you prefer edibles, vaping, dabbing, ingesting capsules or a lover of tinctures? Maybe you prefer topicals, are really digging the potsauce in your meals, or prefer to soak in a bath with a CBD bath bomb. Whatever your method of consumption is, the next best thing to do while high is to do something that makes you feel good. So for example, if you hop on social media and feel yourself getting anxious or beginning to feel triggered, do yourself a favor and take a break for as long as you can, your mind and body will thank you. The news will be there when you decide to check-in. It. Can. Wait. The accessibility of technology has us connected and plugged in 24/7 and that affects our bodies. We need to get our bodies to go from having the fight or flight response activated to one where our body is at rest. This is the only way we can really facilitate healing and get back to our natural state of vitality and well being. When we suppress our emotions and do not give ourselves permission to feel what we are feeling, or think about what it is we are thinking (known as meta cognition), we perpetuate our own suffering. According to the National Sleep Foundation 2005 article research on human thoughts per day found that on average a person thinks anywhere from “12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those thousands of thoughts, 80% were negative, and 95% were exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.” If we go through our days riddled with anxiety and fear because we are in the habit of thinking the worst is going to happen, it is helpful to cultivate the skill of managing our emotions.
Ask yourself, “What kind of thoughts am I thinking right now?”
What’s in your Toolbox?
It is important that we build skills and have tools that empower us to mange our thoughts and emotions, otherwise we will fall into the quicksand of our negative/pessimistic outlook that keep us stuck, stagnant, afraid, and hopeless.
The first tool I would recommend for navigating through the wave of election day jitters, is to breath deeply in and out through your nose. We’ll use the KISS approach of Keep It Simple, Stoner. Start by tuning in to the rhythm of your nose as you inhale and then slowly exhale out your nose. Do this five times. Then do it five more times, and move on to your day. You can do this any time of the day, and I’d recommend doing this the moment you wake up. It’s hard to really think while you intentionally focus on breathing in and out your nostrils. By taking a moment to pause and pay attention to your breathing, you slow down your heart rate, and help your body shift from the fight or flight response to one of calm and relaxation. What i love about breathing is that we can learn to harness the power and healing energy our breath provides. I love smoking a bowl, grabbing my peppermint essential oil, and sitting down for five minutes to practice inhaling/exhaling the aroma from essential oil wafting to my nose. I immediately feel a cooling sensation and start to notice I feel invigorated and clear minded. While stress is inevitable, the ways we manage our emotions, moods, and stress can make a difference in our ability to move forward.
One quick and easy way to keep stress at bay is by staying hydrated. Our bodies are made up of 70% water while our brains are 85% water, so making sure we are drinking enough throughout the day is important. When not properly hydrated, we can experience anything from headaches and fatigue to seizures in severe dehydration cases. If drinking water tastes too bland consider adding herbs and fruits to the water to add natural flavors rather than drinking beverages high in sugar. When the body is mildly dehydrated cortisol levels increase. The production of cortisol is triggered by our stress response. Lesly Una pierce, Director of The National Healing Foundation says, “in a nutshell, STRESS is the most dehydrating thing of all. Our cells will be stressed because they are not getting enough water. It is said that we can create more toxicity from our thoughts and bottle upped emotions than we ever could from our food.” But this is more than just drinking water, it’s about nourishing our adrenal glands. Even smoking cannabis can dehydrate our bodies so making sure we are balancing the water intake/output is an important thing to keep in mind during this upcoming week. Make sure to drink water in the morning first thing with either a lime or lemon to help make it alkaline.
PUT YOUR JOY FIRST: ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES WHILE STONED THAT MAKEYOU FEEL GOOD
After getting some hydration in, I would recommend consuming cannabis your preferred method and doing an activity of some sort that feels good to you. For me, it’s either smoking a small bowl-a snap- or smoking a dab and either spending some time in my back yard, going on a walk with my pup or spend some time journaling, where I allow myself to explore the thoughts I’m having. Since the onset of COVID the idea of “normal” and “routines” have gone out the window for me. I wake up and listen to what my body is saying-sometimes I need to work on forgiveness so I’ll do a forgiveness meditation or that my body feels stiff so I go practice yoga. It depends on what it is that my body needs, I listen and then I honor that. I would like to take a moment to say, there is no right or wrong way to relax and reduce stress. There is just figuring out what that looks like for you, and honoring your needs. Being able to move either my mind or body really helps me feel present and grounded in myself. Everyone handles their emotions and stress differently, and that is OK.
TED TALKS: IDEAS WORTH DISCOVERING
I think there is a real willingness people are showing during these unprecedented times to speak up and raise awareness about mental health, especially in the cannabis community. It’s important to be able to express our feelings in healthy ways. If you cannot afford counseling or therapy I recommend listening to Ted Talks through Youtube on mental health, depression, anxiety, and psychology to learn more about the way our brains are wired. If new to Ted Talks, basically it’s where speakers, educators, experts, and professionals gather and have conversations about ideas that have the potential to impact your life.
As of late, I have been watching Ted Talks back to back learning about how to rewire my brain through breathing and mindfulness. Watching these videos while high also help reduce the skeptic in me and allows me to listen with an open mind and heart. When I can recall that my brain is wired to look for what’s wrong and what’s not working I can take a step back and give myself compassion for doing the best I can with where I am at. Please be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can, we all are, and that is good enough. You do not have to have all the answers, but having a willingness to learn to manage our stress is an important step in getting our power back.
LAUGHTER FOR MEDICINE:
Another of my favorite go to as of late is infusing my day with laugher. I have been watching a lot of stand up comedy on Youtube and it is making a difference in being able to get through the day when things feel rough. I do not take it lightly that laughter is the best medicine. I wholeheartedly agree. Being able to laugh through the uncomfortable and unpleasant moments give me some wiggle room and remind me not to take life so serious. Laughing despite feeling like this world is a ship engulfed in flames helps me remedy the fact that life is about transition and everything is temporary. This Election Day will pass and we will find ourselves onto the next thing, so being able to find some humor in all of this is key for me right now.
Having connections and meaningful relationships with others can help us navigate whatever hardships we face throughout the course of our lives. Being able to reach out to a friend, family member, or trusted co-worker can help us buffer the intense emotions brought on by the debates and election. It’s important to be able to express ourselves and feel seen as well as heard. Knowing who those people are can really impact our ability to manage our moods and feel loved. It also is a reminder that we are not alone in this, and that we have support systems that can help us in our time of need.
BALANCING YOUR BODY’S DESIRE FOR NOURISHMENT
While there is the notion that smoking weed makes you eat junk food, the reality is that junk food doesn’t jump into our hands nor our shopping carts. It is us who decide what we’re going to eat and it’s important that we fuel our bodies with foods that nourish us. This is not to tell you to stop eating the foods that bring comfort. Rather, it’s about making choices that help us stay on track and help us feel good, satisfied, and wholesome. With the state of the world and the pandemic, your health is everything. Now more than ever. If we are constantly eating foods that make your feel guilt, shame, and pollute our bodies, we make it difficult for our body to keep us strong as well as healthy. Eating foods that are highly processed as well as high in refined sugar make it difficult to think clearly and disrupts our metabolism.
Make sure these next few days the foods you consume are more nutrient dense foods- more veggies and fruits and water! There’s no need to force yourself to eat things that you don’t like, and by that same token, give yourself some wiggle room to explore and try new things in new ways like making smoothies! They’re a great way to get your greens while making them taste more palatable. You could throw hemp seeds, and tinctures in your smoothies. Being able to cook a meal for yourself or brew yourself a cup of coffee/tea is a loving way to take care of yourself and fuel more goodness into yourself.
REST+RECHARGE- YOU ARE LIKE A CELLPHONE
People are like cellphones- we need to make sure that as an operating device we are fully charged, otherwise, its hard to get through the day with a dead phone/ stagnant energy. For those of us making a commute to work, have you ever gotten to work and noticed one of your coworkers yawning and having a hard time getting their work done? Could that be you as well? If our energies are depleted being able to function properly goes out the window. I recall hearing that lack of sleep is equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s crucial that we get an adequate amount of sleep so that our bodies and organs can function properly to flush out the toxins we are exposed to daily.
Stress can induce sleeping disorders so making sure we are going to sleep at the appropriate time, drinking herbal teas that aid in relaxing or even consuming a cannabis product aimed to facilitate a restful sleep can make a difference in the headspace you wake up in the next day. I like smoking dabs when I get home from work as a way to unwind. I’ve really been enjoying drawing a bath, throwing in some soaking salts with calming herbs and soaking in there long enough to let the stress melt off my bones. This has been really wonderful and relaxes me. Some people like to exercise before they go to sleep, and feel that helps them get the rest they need. Whatever route you go, all that matters is that it helps you feel relaxed, soothed, and rested. Our mental health really depends on it.
MOVEMENT + MUSIC = YOUR KEY TO ELEVATING YOUR ENERGY
Whenever I feel my the ocean of my emotions begin to swallow me whole, I go listen to music that helps me release emotions and shift my energy. I really like most genres of music. As a writer and poet, I really love listening to instrumentals. Especially after smoking my favorite strains since I love to practice the art of freestyle and rap. I have songs that help me focus on my spirituality, songs that make me feel freaky, songs to help me grieve, songs to help me feel sexy-the list goes on. Music has such an influence over us and it’s definitely something I listen to daily. If we can get into the habit of creating a morning that fuels our spirits, invigorate our minds, and helps us stabilize our moods, we can truly handle whatever curveball thrown our way. Scientists in another study (Leahy, 2005, Study of Cornell University) found that “85% of what we worry about never happens. Secondly, with the 15% of the worries that did happen, 79% of the subjects discovered that either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. The conclusion is that 97% of our worries are baseless and result from unfounded pessimistic perceptions.”
THE POWER OF SCENT AND HOW THAT INFLUENCES YOUR EMOTIONS & MEMORIES
This is also a good time to think about the sort of smells that are triggering your memories and emotions especially during this election season/election day. According to an article in the South China Morning Post The Human Nose: amazing facts about our most powerful organ, “Our nose is more connected to memory than we may realize. Smell is the only one of our senses which is directly connected to the regions of the brain which form memory (the hippocampus) and process emotion and memory (the amygdala). Smell is also connected to the limbic system, which may attribute emotions to events in our past. This is why a certain scent may trigger memories.”
Have you ever smelled a strain of flower at the dispensary only to dislike the aroma or the opposite, you love the sweet fragrance and waft of aroma hugging your nose? The kind of smells we surround ourselves in can play a huge role in the impact of stress management. I’d recommend looking into aromatherapy essential oils. You can diffuse them using a diffuser, wear a scent pendent, you could even add them to your baths. (Side note: be sure to check that you aren’t allergic to the essential oil or cannabis strain you are thinking of trying.)
Lavender essential oil is known for its calming and stress reducing effects. Bergamot, another essential oil is great for improving negative emotions and fatigue. The reason I really love lavender is because it has this terpene called Linalool that is also found in various cannabis strains. I need to make the distinction that terpenes found in non-cannabis such spices, fruits, herbs, and veggies are referred to as botanical and the terpenes found in cannabis plants are called cannabis derived terpenes since they are psychoactive (they getcha high). Strains such as Master Kush, La Confidential, and Lavender are some great options to help you relax and feel calm. Cleansing our homes and selves through the method of smudging is another great way to reset the energy and vibration of the home and yourself. In the words of jennifer Rose Marie Serna from @waptaoislandfarm, “To breath in smoke is like a pause. The smells smudge you and bring in ideas and memories and it really is like an energetic reset.”
SO HERE I PASS THE RAINSTICK ON TO YOU:
Well there you have it, a few tips you can pick and choose from and infuse into your days this week of the Election. There is no right or wrong way to go about managing our stress and anxiety because there is no one size fits all. Everyone is unique and triggered by different things and I hope this guide can help you feel more empowered, safe and calm. Your wellbeing and health matter to us.
Stay lifted and gifted.
Note that the contents of this guide are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Contact the Cannabis Workers Coalition for employee-side employment attorney referrals.