Wellness and Self-Care During the Holiday Season

Jillian Jastrzembski

With a cannabis twist!

Isn’t it heart-warming that humans adopted the coldest and darkest time of the year (in most parts of the world), to be the season of festivity? Many of our favorite holiday traditions are recognizable even from pre-Christianity, in celebration of the winter solstice. The holiday season is perhaps one of the oldest and most widespread traditions we have as a society. It is a time of year when we prioritize merriment and togetherness – or at least we try to.

Despite our best efforts, merriment can be difficult to pull off, and “togetherness” may even seem to get in the way. Ironically, some reports suggest that the holiday season is actually associated with a decrease in emotional well-being.

That’s why we’re taking a moment from our regularly scheduled programming to talk about wellness and self-care during the holiday season. We’re offering some science-backed tips to see if we can restore a little bit of the merriment that got lost in the hustle and bustle. Some of our tips involve cannabis, but it’s totally optional – hopefully you will find it helpful either way.

Christmas Wellbeing

Studies suggest that there is a common thread among people who tend to escape the holiday blues. People who put emphasis on family and spiritual activities during the holidays are happier than those who don’t. On the other hand, those who emphasize materialistic aspects of the season experience more stress and anxiety.

If you already have a religious or spiritual practice, then the holidays could be a good time to lean into it. If you’re not a religious person, that’s ok too. Spiritual activities don’t have to be religious or traditional in any way. The values and traditions emphasized during the Christmas season transcend Christianity. They have been widely adopted across different cultures. So, there is no reason to limit spirituality to any one religion either.

Spiritual Benefit of Cannabis

Can cannabis help you to connect with a sense of spirituality? Traditionally, that’s exactly what it was used for. Cannabis has been considered a sacred tool for meditation and spiritual enlightenment in multiple religions and cultures, including Coptic Christians, Tantric Buddhists, and Sufi sects of Islam. In India, cannabis is sometimes said to be as important as the holy wine of communion is to Christians.

The famous spiritual teacher Alan Watts found cannabis to be the best drug for spiritual purposes, because it allowed him to achieve an altered state without disrupting his sensory perception.

Is this surprising to you? It’s true that the spiritual role of cannabis is de-emphasized in today’s culture. The spirituality of cannabis is overshadowed by stigma, which is only just now starting to fade in light of recent legalization.

In a 2021 survey published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 66% of people reported that they experience spiritual benefits from cannabis. Only 5% of respondents believe that cannabis has been a hindrance to their spiritual journey. Most people feel that cannabis is highly compatible with their spiritual values.

Remember that in all things – including psychotropic drugs – intention matters. If you want to use cannabis as a spiritual tool, then be mindful of how you approach it. Have respect for the spiritual traditions and for the comfort level of those around you. You might also try sharing the experience with family and friends, because after all, ‘tis the season.

With or without cannabis, you may find that connecting a sense of spirituality also helps you connect with the holiday spirit.

Visions of Sugarplums

In the winter, the days get darker and our bodies naturally adapt to a longer sleep rhythm. Or at least, they’re supposed to. Through over-exposure to artificial light and the added stress of the holidays, many of us actually experience a decrease  in sleep quality. Whether it’s that last push to get your work done before the end of the year, or the emotional pressure of being extra jolly, sleep can take a hit.

If you suffer from insomnia, you’ve probably already been beaten over the head with sleep hygiene. If you’re doing everything you can and you still need a little extra help, consider that CBD can be a helpful tool to help improve sleep quality and duration.

Note: we didn’t say cannabis. Cannabis, which includes THC, is actually thought to decrease the quality of sleep. If you’re looking for better sleep, CBD without THC is the better option.

Another option is to try melatonin, either alone or together with CBD. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which governs sleep timing. There are several pathologies that could interfere with natural melatonin production, which is why supplementation could come in handy.

A randomized controlled trial, which is the gold standard of research, showed that melatonin, CBD, or a formula combining the two, could all be effective in improving sleep. In fact, there was no statistically significant difference between the three formulations – so you can see what works for you.

Make Time For Movement

You might find it helpful to make some time for movement. You don’t even have to call it exercise. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t. Getting in some daily movement can be something you do as a gift to yourself – not as a chore, or a punishment for overindulging in Christmas treats.

Movement practices, including general exercise as well as yoga, tai qi, and qigong, have been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you are prone to feeling low or stressed during the holiday season, you might find it helpful to set some time for whatever kind of movement you like best.

In particular, finding time to move after meals can come with even more added benefits. We tend to spend some extra time eating during the holidays, which is an excellent way to share time together with loved ones. But spending extra time being sedentary can lead to chronically high blood glucose levels, or hyperglycemia. Your body is forced to store excess amounts of carbohydrates, which over time can lead to metabolic disorders and other inflammatory health conditions.

A 2023 meta-analysis reported that making time to walk after meals can improve your post-meal glycemic response. This was true for both metabolically healthy subjects as well as people with impaired glucose tolerance. A 20-minute post-feast walk is a great way to help moderate your blood glucose levels. The sooner after the meal, the better.

Your post-meal movement can be something you do on your own to get a social recharge, or another way to spend time with family and friends.

The Take-Away

There you have our best tips for holiday selfcare, with a cannabis twist if you like.

To recap:

1.       People who emphasize the spiritual aspects of the holidays report better emotional well-being than those who don’t. If you have a spiritual or religious practice, the holidays could be a good time to lean into that. But your spiritual practice doesn’t have to look conventional either. Cannabis actually has a long history of use as a spiritual aid, so you might find it to be a useful tool.

2.       Winter is a time when we are naturally meant to sleep more. Take advantage of the long nights. If peaceful sleep doesn’t come naturally to you, you can try a night time ritual of CBD and/or melatonin.

3.       Making time for movement during the holidays has multiple benefits. Even light exercise is shown to decrease stress and anxiety. Plus, walking post-meal can improve blood glucose levels – so you won’t have negative health consequences from your holiday feasting.

We hope you found this helpful, and wish you a restful, healthy holiday. As always, if you need advice on any of our products, please contact us for a free consultation.

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