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How are you feeling these days- kind of blah? Good days, and then also low days? Are you feeling tired? Almost as if the batteries to your body have emptied? Partial New England weather pattern game, partial global pandemic- it’s high time to charge those energy batteries up! We all have low days, sometimes even strings of low days all in a row. It’s important to take extra care to feed your head during times such as these. Do you consider mental health care the same as self care? I do, and I lean into my cannabis knowledge to prepare me for what I call “diving deep”. This looks different for all of us, and sometimes it even looks different depending on the situation/day/mindset. First, what is “self care”? It is a practice of loving yourself that is unique to *you*. The Oxford dictionary lists self care as follows: ‘self-care’ /self ker/ noun - the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. The US health care platform recognizes self-care as ‘any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.’ In my personal opinion, it breaks down to a filtering process of weeding out what thought/feeling/action causes emotional upset so that one can enjoy a peaceful moment (or string of peaceful moments). Some examples of self-care are meditating, doing yoga, having a soak in the tub, giving yourself permission to have a long walk with the dog. Other examples look like going for a run, playing a group sport that you enjoy with people you enjoy, indulging in your favorite food (hello pizza!), acquiring yourself a new shiny object, sitting and watching the sun set. Human instinct wants us to attach labels and categories, but I prefer to view the concept of self-care as an umbrella - with lots of different activities falling under it. During this current time of global pandemic due to COVID-19, taking care of oneself is more important than ever. I think this is a multi-layered type of component; most are quarantined at home, this creates an overwhelming amount of channels for boredom, restlessness, anxious thought patterns, and depressed outlooks to take over our usually occupied mind+body. What if we choose to view this as an opportunity? This is an opportunity to slow down and remember how You like You to take care of Self. (I know this sounds a bit odd to a few of you readers, but I encourage you to stay with me here!) The

easiest way to begin is to find a comfortable seat - on the couch, on the floor, on your bed, wherever you feel cozy. Once you find that space, close your eyes and take three slow deep breathes - in through the nose, out through the mouth. Right away this will bring your awareness back into the immediate present moment, giving at least a second of relief for any emotional upset one may be experiencing. The next steps are up to you- perhaps this leads into deep stretching of your physical body, maybe it leads into a free-write onto a piece of scrap paper, or maybe it turns into a pets-and-cuddles with your furry friend. There are a lot of new age shares that can give the allusion that self-care is soft and pretty, or requires you to be purchasing something in order to experience it; I disagree. The reality of self-care is taking care of SELF; often that requires getting real with yourself to dive into a solution for an on-going problem, which is rarely soft or pretty. It also always starts internally, which doesn’t require spending a penny to achieve. I recently had a day filled with tackling tasks, packing, cleaning, and I “dove deep” into an intentional evening of jalapeño pizza and old Star Wars films. Most mornings I give myself the gift of waking up at dawn to move my body, stretch, and breathe through the hectic energy that arises. I regularly indulge in long walks in the sunshine with my dog, making sure to recognize the sweet songs of birds and the little pops of color that are beginning to spring forth. The acts of taking care of oneself are judgement-free, and unique to *you*. I encourage you to recognize what you do to take care of yourself, and match your favorite strain to the activity! When the weather cooperates for outside adventuring, I love the decompressing act of walking through the woods. It can be a short trail just off the peninsula, or miles and miles of hiking somewhere DownEast; these outdoor moments call for juicy, limonene-dominant strains. My number one choice is Lemon OG (Lemon Skunk x OG18) but will settle for a tangerine soaked option such as OVM {aka Orange Vanilla Milano} (Tangie X Cookies+Cream). The brightness of the terpenes (for both strains) relieve my mind of negativity, and give my body an energetic boost that is perfect for strolling in the sunshine. I also find that the headiness of both strains allows for my mind to comfortably process through issues/problems/concepts that are ailing me without allowing in anxiety.

I find quite a few folks are fans of the “zip” that comes along with sativa-leaning hybrids. Samantha Duggan, owner of Golden Hour Yoga+Wellness in Portland, regularly utilizes citrusy sativas into her morning meditations and movements. She says, “Using cannabis at the beginning (and end) of an activity helps me create a container of safe space to be fully present in the experience I am having.” Samantha initiates her morning movements with smoking strains of flower such as Mimosa (Clementine X Purple Punch) and Golden Ticket (Golden Goat X FaceOff OG). The terpene profiles of these strains allow for an uplift - removing the morning grogginess and preparing the body for movement. Samantha coins it perfectly, referring to her choices of fruity, citrusy strains as an equivalent to another version of a fruit smoothie in the morning! Sativas aren’t the only way to receive mental stimulation, the hybridization of genetics is common these days and the number of “cerebral indicas” is regularly on the rise. A fellow writer, Benny P, enjoys the mental motivation that comes along with this category of indicas. As the editor-in-chief of Rhyme Beat, Maine’s #1 HipHop blog, spending long hours at the computer is common. He says, “Not only do I use cannabis for mental stimulation, I also use cannabis as a way to unwind mentally. Anxiety is something I deal with daily and indica-leaning hybrids help with this a lot.” Benny settles into long writing stints by smoking strains such as Apex (Triangle Kush X Pure Kush) and Motorbreath (Chem D X SFV OG), allowing his mind to get to work but his body to relax. One of my go-to strains before a number of self care practices is Sundae Driver (Fruity Pebbles OG X Grape Stomper). Whether I’m reading a good book with my favorite cup of tea, or about to dive into a deep stretch, this strain never fails me. A cerebral indica-leaning hybrid, this strain allows for pleasant mindwork followed by a softening of my body. My mind is able to decompress and filter out the unwanted, clearing my mind before going into any sort of meditative/intentional practices. I find that cerebral indica-leaning hybrids are quite popular for self-care practices with most folks. Another one of my favorites is Secret Cookies (Thin Mints 11 X Cherry Pie); this strain piques my imagination and has aided me in the production of some of my best writing to date! While my imagination can run rampant, my body feels soothed into relaxation so that sitting for long periods of time typing doesn’t cause havoc to my old bones.

Ellie Shaughnessy, a permaculture enthusiast and owner of Higher Being Cannabis, is a fan of smoking indica-leaning hybrids such as Red Eye Jedi (Skywalker OG X 88 G13) into her self-care practice of making pottery. She says, “ A clean and smooth indica mellows me out and relaxes me into a trance where I can focus at an easy pace as I sink into my clay.” The act of putting one’s hands in clay, or the dirt of the Earth, is restorative to a soul-level of relaxation. Gardening, of any kind, is likely one of the first forms of self-care that humans took part in; partial self care, partial preservation tactic. As the weather shifts here in the Crown Of New England, as we drudge on through the weeks of sheltering-at-home, we can make our own sunshine from within. Flower blooms are beginning to poke through the top crust of the Earth, there are many metaphors within this act. Move towards the light, let the warmth of calm and relaxation flow through you. Be like the little seedling growing through the dark soil, waiting to emerge into the bright sunlight of New. Or in the very least, recognize how to take care of yourself in a way that makes you feel good. What works for one may or may not work for the next, let this be a judgement free experience. Take the time to tune into yourself, the way that you would tune the strings on that old guitar you have sitting in the corner of your room. I offer these words and examples to you, cannabis enthusiast and reader of Maine Potcast, to encourage you to partake in your own form of self-care. What appeals to you? What tactics can you incorporate into your day-to-day starting right now? And what strains will you smoke to aid you on this journey? I want to know! Reach out on IG and tell me about your journey -> @miss.cassmarie. Feed your head with care, indulge in lots of relaxing deep breaths, enjoy the sunshine when it peeks out from behind the clouds, take care of yourself, and most importantly BE WELL.

{{Thank you to Benny, Samantha, and Ellie for sharing your authentic responses. Thank you to Evan and Kerry for asking me to contribute on a topic of my choosing}}

-Cass Marie Coconut-Tree

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