Women are working longer hours than ever, and many take on a “second shift” at home, where the emotional labour we perform is decidedly less well-paid. It’s no wonder that self-care as a concept has become wildly popular among young women in the last few years—we’re exhausted! And if no one is going to create space for you, you have to make it for yourself.
At a time with Instagram feeds full of bubble baths and bottles of Prosecco, we have a vested interest in looking inward to discover the joy in treating ourselves. But along with those few micro-acts of surface stress relief that are easy enough to fit into a busy day, women are expanding their definitions of self-care to include long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes.
Cindy, a Toronto-based DJ and music producer, has been a regular cannabis user for the last 15 years. Though she doesn't subscribe to social media's picture-perfect vision of wellness, she's interested in taking care of herself in a way that makes an impact on her day-to-day life. "Fundamentally, I believe self-care is very important," she says. "[Cannabis], I think, fits with that."
Her use has ebbed and flowed over the years, starting as a ward against insomnia during university, and developing into its current form—something to look forward to, which also happens to help her unwind. “If I have to write emails, I’m not going to get high,” she says. “It’s a way that I reward myself at the end of a long day.”
Equating cannabis and relaxation is nothing new, but according to a 2017 survey by a San Francisco-based medical marijuana delivery company, "women are tending more and more to use [cannabis] as self-care, to reduce stress." This makes sense given how very real we know stress symptoms can be.
"I most often smoke when I'm trying to relax," says Cindy, who also enjoys edibles in chocolate form. "I smoke the most on Sundays because I work on the weekends. I associate [it] with being... carefree. It's a de-stressor for me."
So much of self-care comes down to feeling good and living better. Small moments of celebration are great, but sleeping soundly, eating well, and dealing with stress and anxiety can make all the difference. Wellness is intrinsically tied to the feeling and function of the body—when you don't feel good in your own skin, it's that much harder to relax, and when you experience anxiety on a regular basis your focus lies in getting to the moments where those feelings are manageable.
It's a way for women to take wellness into their own hands, and shake some of the obstacles that can hold them back from living their best lives.
That’s why infusing cannabis into your self-care routine has the potential to be such a radical act. When used safely, it’s a way for women to take wellness into their own hands, and shake some of the obstacles that can hold them back from living their best lives.
Terry-Ann, 57, did just that when she started using cannabis five years ago to help with pain management related to her fibromyalgia. “It helps,” she said. “I was on all sorts of pharmaceuticals; I’m not anymore.” But starting out wasn’t simple for someone who grew up surrounded by pervasive “just say no” attitudes. That’s why Terry-Ann co-founded Weed Over Forty, a cannabis consulting group based in Alberta that provides education to those looking to test the waters as cannabis becomes legal.
“There was a huge gap in real, applicable information,” said Terry-Ann. “I think the reason people need to be educated on this product is because it’s very diverse. It’s a simple product—it’s a plant—but its impact can be quite diverse.”
And for the over 40 crowd that Terry-Ann hopes to cater to, especially women, new ways to experience wellness and relaxation are welcome. “You can have five glasses of wine and nobody’s going to bat an eyelash,” said Terry-Ann. “You smoke a joint and everybody’s batting eyelashes. Add to that being a 40-year-old female." Trying to myth-bust and erase some of the stigma surrounding cannabis is one of the group's primary missions. Empowering a crowd of people who've only ever heard one message about the product is another.
Education will likely be the key to empowerment, especially because the range of potential cannabis uses is so diverse. There's been a boom of female-focused lifestyle brands all centred around cannabis, and much media attention about what it all means as legalisation approaches. From cute accessories for the style-savvy to cannabis-infused bath bombs and lotions, and topicals like lip balms, for those who want to infuse it into their beauty routines, women are buying into the power of plants. They have good reason to—the symptoms cannabis can avail are so common in the female population. For instance, women are twice as likely to suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and studies have shown CBD to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
Those calming effects are the primary reason Cindy uses cannabis. “I have a lot of anxiety,”she says. “I don’t like how my emotions can sometimes get the best of me.” When she’s feeling particularly wound up, or in a situation that requires her to keep her cool, even a small dose, she says, can make a huge difference to her mental health.
“Because it slows you down, you spend more time thinking about what you’re saying—you’re not as reactive. Just a little bit helps me with my way of thinking.”
And as a music producer, Cindy uses cannabis to engage a more creative way of thinking as well. She doesn't get high when she performs, or even when she's putting the finishing touches on a new track, but she does find that cannabis can help her open her mind a bit when she's artistically stuck. "I'm less critical when I [use cannabis] a little bit. Sometimes that criticalness is what prevents you from being creative."
Part of self-care includes that level of mindfulness, which is an excellent approach to finding the cannabis product that works best for you. Conscious consumption can help you figure out how you react to different strains, and what works best for different moods, moments and your own stress management.
Take it slow. Try it out with friends or alone and just listen to your body
“Take it slow,” says Cindy. “Try it out with friends or alone and just listen to your body.”
That notion of being in tune with your body, your mind, your surroundings is all tied to caring for yourself and doing what feels best for you. Whether it be taking a bath at the end of a long day, or relaxing with some CBD oil or a joint, caring for yourself should stay high on your priority list.