Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2022 brings you every joy, every happiness, every satisfaction you desire. I hope that we all feel a lifting of the stresses, concerns, and worries of the past couple of years, as it has been a rough ride. We all deserve a break!
With the New Year, we often stop and think about changes we would like to see in our lives.
We make resolutions, set intentions, revisit goals and dreams. It is the chance for a fresh start, and even though the date is an arbitrary dividing line, it often helps us to feel as if we can begin anew. Often people state that they don’t make resolutions because “I never keep them anyway.” Resolutions become another source of self criticism and disgust–”Why didn’t I go to the gym? How come I can’t lose weight?”
I suggest that there is no need to add more expectations that lead to guilt and shame–there is enough of that present in our lives to begin with. Instead, I propose adjusting our focus, looking towards wellness, and making a plan of action that is about self care and ease rather than suffering and deprivation. And, while planning for this, may I remind you–cannabis can help!
There are many areas of existence that contribute to overall wellness. We need to balance our eating, sleep, and movement. We crave interpersonal connection, and feel dried out, achy, and often end the holiday season feeling overextended financially and emotionally, leading to stress and exhaustion. And with the onset of the depths of winter, we face seasonal affective disorder and sadness. We are recovering from the overindulgence in food and alcohol over the holidays. It feels overwhelming!
Losing weight and getting in shape are two of the most common resolutions people make, and they are so often destined for failure.
This happens because our goals are not realistic, and we start out overly intensely, and the effort is unsustainable. Starving ourselves makes us focus on what we miss eating, and we consider eating the foods we crave as “cheating”. Instead, we need to focus on nourishing our bodies, adding the necessary nutrients and choosing fresh foods, high quality foods, enjoyable foods. And, there is no place for “starving yourself”, everything in moderation is the way to go. Patients concerned about their weight often think that cannabis is contraindicated, thinking that “getting the munchies” will cause further weight gain.
In fact, there is a lot of research being done in this area, and the results have been surprising–regular cannabis users tend to be slimmer, with a lower BMI than non-users with a similar activity/ consumption profile. There are many mechanisms of cannabis metabolism that seem to be involved in this phenomenon, including rebalancing of the endocannabinoid system as exogenous THC binds to the CB1 receptors, reversing the increased rate of obesity, insulin resistance, unhealthy lipid profiles, inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A varied healthy diet with regular cannabis consumption can actually calm the overstimulated CB1 receptor through down-regulation, and lead to improved health.
One of the most common reasons that people don’t exercise, and even avoid movement in general, is that it hurts to move.
Aging, obesity, and overuse all lead to inflammation and degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal disease, and this causes a vicious cycle–the less you move, the more weight you gain, the more you weigh, the worse the pressure is on your joints and muscles, and that makes it hurt more to move. You can see where this is going. Current research suggests anti-inflammatory activity from many compounds may be naturally found in the cannabis plant, including THC, THCa, CBC, CBD, CBG, and CBN.
These same cannabinoids could be useful in reducing pain, muscle spasms, cramps and fibromyalgia. Taking cannabis regularly may help to decrease the inflammation and pain that exercise can cause, making it easier for us to move and exercise. This is the opposite of a vicious cycle–the more we move, the more we experience the release of endorphins, pleasure hormones–the better we feel!
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the Winter Blues, are a real phenomenon
People are increasingly vulnerable to self-destructive behaviors, looking for a quick “treat”, including desserts, alcoholic drinks, spending sprees–impulsive choices which can lead to long term regrets, and more depression, sadness and hopelessness. These lead to stress and anxiety. Sleep can be disrupted, and people under stress are more vulnerable to illness and disease. Instead cannabis can be part of the picture for creating a wellness-focused regimen.
Wellness and self-care are part of the “pampering”, as CBD and cannabis is often incorporated into massage oils, skin and hair care products and supplements. Research has shown that cannabis is a helpful agent for treating anxiety and depression, and improving sleep quality. Let’s consider Winter as a time for REST, in preparation for “blooming” in the Spring. Indica strains are useful for pain management, sleep, and reducing stress. Sativas are energizing and help fight depression, fatigue and increase productivity. And, resolution of depressive and anxiety symptoms can improve our abilities to connect to others, to avoid feeling isolated and lonely, and again, to improve wellness.
In summary, the New Year is often viewed as a time to rededicate ourselves to our wellness, our health, our satisfaction and our contentment. Cannabis is a powerful tool in improving the general picture and minimizing the possible complications and dysfunctions which might threaten your reaching your goals. Let’s say that we’ve suffered enough–now it is time to move into a place of health and grace.