How Stress Affects Cognition and CBD Can Help
By Evan DeMarco
Stress is a powerful thing. It can cause everything from mental burnout, to physical conditions like acne, rashes and hives. What’s more, stress lingers—it sticks with you for days, weeks and months, running a toll on your body that you might not fully realize. It’s hard to escape stress, not just because of external stressors, but because of what stress does to the brain long-term.
Have you ever noticed that everything seems monumentally more difficult when you’re stressed? Even simple decisions are a struggle to make. Moreover, it’s common to fall into a cycle that feels like every decision you make yields a negative outcome. It’s a rough prospect to struggle with, so it’s important to understand exactly what stress does to the brain, and how to offset it. And yes, there is a science-backed solution to help offset stressors on a daily basis.
What does stress do to the brain?
Trying to focus, concentrate or make decisions while under heavy stress is like trying to operate after experiencing a major lack of sleep. Your brain has to work harder to do simpler things. And, with every effort you make to strain your brain, you’re only creating more stress for yourself! It’s a vicious cycle that’s easy to get trapped in.
Beyond creating even more strain on your already stressed-out brain, there are many other negative factors associated with stress and cognition, including:
- Short- and long-term memory problems
- Poor habit-forming tendencies
- Anxiety and mental anguish
- Irritability and impatience
- Feelings of depression or foreboding
- Inability to perform simple tasks
- Poor decision-making
The list goes on and on. There’s even evidence that shows prolonged stress kills brain cells, reduces brain size and affects synapse regulation. Stress could literally be destroying your brain!
How stress affects cognition generally depends on the level of stress a person is subjected to and their ability to unburden themselves of it. Again, in the same way getting a good night’s sleep can soothe a tired brain, being able to relax and unwind will restore cognitive sharpness to a stressed-out mind.
How can CBD help stress?
Let’s face it, not everyone can take a spa day or cut out the things in their life contributing to their stress. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Jobs are only getting more demanding and free time is precious.
For many people facing the impossible predicament of de-stressing, CBD could be the answer. There’s actually an abundance of science out there pointing to the benefits of cannabinoids (specifically cannabidiol) for stress reduction. In fact, more and more people are turning to CBD oil for stress, as opposed to things like opioids or illicit drugs. CBD offers people the mental reprieve they need from stress without the psychoactive properties of THC.
How CBD helps with stress and anxiety comes down to its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system—specifically CB1 receptors located in the brain. CBD and other cannabinoids all have a unique effect on the body. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by reducing the overwhelming presence of stress signals from the brain.
In scientific terms, CBD restricts your brain from activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for the mental anguish caused by stress. Put another way, it stops alarm bells from constantly ringing in your head!
Stress reduction, without the mind-altering state
People familiar with marijuana culture are already aware of the idea that cannabis soothes stress. And while hemp-extracted CBD is closely related to this world, it’s actually very different. Namely, CBD provides the stress reduction without the mind-altering effects of THC (another cannabinoid).
Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it counteracts the properties of THC in many ways. In fact, THC can actually increase stress in people who feel anxious, paranoid or disoriented by the effects of THC. Ingesting CBD oil gives many people the relaxation they’re looking for, without the stigma of smoking marijuana or the unwanted psychoactive effects that come with it.
Instead of getting you high, CBD helps restore the brain’s homeostasis. It’s like a reset button for stress!
CBD is a great start for soothing stress
While CBD is a wonderful option for soothing stress and regaining hold on your mental faculties during stressful times, it’s not a panacea. To get the most out of CBD, you need to support lifestyle changes too. Using CBD as a temporary relief from stress is a great way to muster up the mental fortitude to make positive changes affecting your long-term health.
For example, you might take CBD before bed like Omax Health’s Sleep and Stress Remedy, to get a restful night’s sleep. Or, you might take CBD to give you a break from the strain of a busy work schedule, allowing you to go to the gym and run off your stress guilt-free. In these scenarios, CBD is the catalyst to a better approach in stress management.
If you’re feeling run down by constant stress, with no chance to unburden yourself, understand how that stress is affecting your brain. It’s imperative to allow yourself the opportunity to unwind and return to a calm state of mind. CBD can help by combating the body’s natural tendency to panic, giving you the opportunity to find relaxation—even amidst a hectic, fast-paced lifestyle.