Anxiety is something many of us experience; according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States: 40 million adults (or 18 percent of the population) are affected. The reason for an anxious mind is complex, with genetics, brain chemistry, personality, past experiences, and even creativity playing a role.
Everyone has anxiety from time to time – it’s a normal response to the challenges of life. It’s natural to feel anxious before public speaking or during a review at work. It’s natural to feel anxious when driving through bumper to bumper traffic or when your favorite football team begins the Super Bowl with a high snap that results in a safety.
Some anxiety is normal; a ton of it is not
When anxiety crosses the bridge from being a nuisance to drastically interfering with your life, it’s something that needs to be addressed (and something that might be prevalent because of an underlying mental condition).
The Difference Between Anxiety and Fear and Stress
Anxiety and fear and stress are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.
Stress is the reaction to a stressor. If you’re on a hike and you run into a grizzly bear, your heart will race, your brow will sweat, and your knees will go weak (and you might try to take a selfie, but that’s not stress, just idiocy). Stress can be either acute or chronic. Running into a grizzly bear results in acute stress, going through something like a divorce induces chronic.
Fear is the feeling of apprehension in response to danger. This can be either real or perceived that way – in the example above, a grizzly bear will cause fear in the average person regardless if it intends to attack.
Fear ignites our fight or flight, causing us to fight back, run away, or in sheer terror, freeze. It’s the response to a real danger
Anxiety is the feeling of apprehension in response to no danger. If you’re hiking in a forest and your heart begins to race as you worry about running into a grizzly bear, that’s anxiety. There’s no bear around, so the fear’s not valid and you should probably not watch anymore Animal Planet. People who are anxious respond to a previous experience or an imagined one.
When compared to stress and fear, anxiety is more multifaceted. It involves undesired cognitions and both physiological and behavioral aspects. It’s also quite devastating to those who have it.
The good news is that anxiety is treatable: therapy, medication, exercise, and mindfulness all help alleviate it. And so does cannabis.
Strains for Anxiety
Anxious people have a love/hate relationship with pot: some strains reduce it and others make anxiety much worse. Because THC is linked to paranoia, it compounds feelings of unease. However, that’s avoidable if you ingest the right strain.
So, try one of the following:
Very high in Sativa (90 percent), Kali Mist has won a few awards that it’d like to brag about: The Hydro Cup of 1995 and the 2000 Seed Company Sativa Cup. Users report uplifting energy (experienced users report energy without the fog – the mind remains clear). It’s psychedelic in high doses (and in lower doses for the novice) and not something you want to hit again and again all day long.
This strain is used for stress, anxiety, and depression, making it beneficial to both medical and recreational users alike. It’s useful for some pain management too, though severe pain doesn’t respond each time.
Sativa-dominant, Moby Dick has moderately high levels of THC (some report yields as high as 20 percent). This strain is very psychoactive: smoke enough, and you’ll see your own elusive white whale. It’s very euphoric too, but makes you feel flakey after only a couple hits. So, use it when you don’t have to drive anywhere, talk to anyone who writes your paychecks, or sign on any dotted lines.
The body high is sedating and numbing and great at limiting stress, depression, and anxiety
It promotes hunger as well. Keeping comfort foods around the house may further prove helpful for any unease.
A study conducted at the University of Cincinnati found that pleasurable behavior, like eating foods that comfort you, induces a neural activity that eases stress. Sex also promotes this neural activity. Hurry up and tell your wives.
Hawaiian Snow might sound like an oxymoron and it sort of is when you consider that it’s a high THC strain that eases the mind. It induces light-headed cerebral effects that teeter between strong and not-as-strong. It also promotes the mood and floods the mind with creativity.
The euphoria it induces is specifically helpful for anxiety:
It’s hard to be fearful when you’re so damn happy
Still, there can be too much of a good thing: start slow with this strain for the best results.
The Peyton Manning strain started in Denver (but, who knows, maybe it first came from Indy). It was released in September 2013 after Manning threw seven touchdowns in one game. Fun Fact: I was at that game and I tossed my bra onto the field (okay, the first part is true, the second part is not).
Because it’s dominant in Sativa, it offers an uplifting high that helps focus the mind. The Indica is obvious too; the body high is calm and sedating. It’s commonly used to curb both physical pain (joint pain, mostly) and emotional. People with PTSD, ADD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder find it effective.
Queso derives from the Cheese strain (not shocking, given the title) and offers similar effects. It elevates the mood, but fails to produce a strong head high.
The body high, conversely, is powerful
This makes it a good choice for pain relief, stress relief, depression, anxiety, and an inability to fall or stay asleep.
Some users report an increase in appetite and a reduction of nausea, two things that are prevalent in people with anxiety, particularly if they’re suffering from depression as well.