How to Survive Holiday Stress with CBD Topicals

Soothe your seasonal stress with these CBD-friendly massages.

Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

With supply chain drama and travel challenges already congesting the best laid plans, we’re in for a doozy of a holiday season. Before your eyes start to twitch with stress—take a breath, it’s going to be okay.

There will still be gatherings, traditions and memories made with loved ones, regardless of whether everything arrives in time. That’s what this season is all about.To be fair, even the smoothest of holiday plans tend to bring their own special kind of stress. So this season, we’ve created a pro guide to managing tension with CBD topicals, including massage techniques for getting the most out of the different textures and formulas. Ready to feel better?

Sooth your shoulders

Everyone is carrying some extra tension in their shoulders right now. Instead of popping another Ibuprofen, try a potent CBD topical with a little extra attention to the application. The texture of Xula’s uff! Balm hits a nice medium between lotion and balm, with a spicy, herbal scent that offers a nice boost of aromatherapy when using it on the shoulders. Take a pearl-sized amount and blend into fingertips, placing your hands on either side of your neck with your fingers pointing behind you. Squeeze your fingers, holding pressure on that trapezius muscle behind your collarbone for a few seconds before pulling hands forward and back again to rub the balm in. Bring your fingers up your neck, concentrating on the base.

To get more relief into harder-to-reach areas of the back, there are topical sprays like Dr. Kerklaan’s CBD Relief Spray that absorb nicely even when you can’t rub them in.

Create happier hands

With all the cooking of major meals, cleaning up of major messes, and wrapping of major presents in between, our hands work overtime during the holidays. Making time for a mini-hand massage before bed can be a gamechanger, especially when assisted by a light, easily absorbing CBD lotion like the cedarwood and bergamot-scented lotion by Empower Bodycare. Once you’ve spread some lotion on both hands, use your opposite hand to hold the other, positioning your thumb over the heel of the palm. Apply pressure with your thumb in a small circular motion, working your way across the palm. Next, grasp the web of tissue that connects your thumb to the rest of your fingers and gently squeeze. Feels great, right? We could all do more to take care of our hardworking hands.

To treat larger surface areas like arms and legs, opt for an oilier texture like the generously dosed, nearly fragrance-free CBD massage oil by Plant Love. Put a pump or two of oil in one hand and apply all over the opposite forearm, squeezing your arm as you massage the oil in. Wrap your hand around the wrist and squeeze, pulling your hand up the length of your arm towards your elbow, encouraging blood flow towards your heart. Repeat on the other side, and take the rest of the night easy.

Relax other areas

Properly massaging in oil is its own labor of sorts, so, for a simpler application, there are potent cream formulas like TONIC’s Outer Space CBD Body Butter that can just be rubbed in and left to do its work. This one is more fragrant, but it has a very pleasant, botanical unisex scent. If you’ve got chronic discomfort from an old injury or surgery, placing a transdermal patch like these 40 mg CBD patches by Sheabrand directly on the spot can provide solid relief for several hours. In regards to any monthly abdominal or back discomfort that hits extra hard this season, reach for balms like The Ritual from period-centric CBD brand Enuf created, a super potent 1,200 mg topical with a pillowy texture that can be applied to the abdomen, back—anywhere external that feels sore.

For any residual tension, there’s always the other kind of self-massage, for which you’ll want a product designed for more intimate application. Apothecanna’s jasmine-scented CBD Sexy Time Oil is a tried-and-true favorite, as well as the infused oils, sprays, and bath salts by Glissant, which are formulated by a physician in pelvic medicine. Wherever your tension gathers, there’s a CBD for that.

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Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. She writes The Broccoli Report, a bi-weekly newsletter for creative cannabis entrepreneurs.