Burnout redefined: Does cannabis have a role to play in addressing millennial exhaustion?

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Not to be confused with the 1990’s common stoner reference, the “burnout” alluding to heavy drug use, millennial burnout seems to be a growing issue of concern.

Burnout is hardly new. In fact, it is recognized by the World Health Organization as an occupational condition, listed in the International Classification of Diseases. A type of chronic stress related specifically to work conditions and stressors, burnout can present as exhaustion, increased cynicism on the job and reduced personal efficiency.

That makes it not so different than what millennials seem to be experiencing. In a rewrite of the narrative around cannabis, it seems cannabis may have a role to play in addressing burnout among millennials.

A 2016 study found that millennials experienced burnout rates that were “significantly higher” than those of baby boomers and generation X. Currently, professionals recommend unplugging from social media, taking naps to improve cognitive function and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and yoga.

In addition to relaxation techniques, many people are turning to cannabis as a means of self-care. Jill Grindle shared her experience as a former medical cannabis educator to Leafly, reporting that she was seeing more young people asking about cannabis for anxiety, depression and insomnia, which she believes is a result of the non-stop demands of the modern world.

“Everybody says the young generation is lazy and entitled, but what I saw was people under constant pressure, to an extent our generation couldn’t imagine. Millennials are expected to be on 24/7/365, in constant demand by their friends, families and employers,” Grindle told Leafy.

“They never get to turn off, and can’t take the phone off the hook like we could at that age. Plus, they’ve got this constant exposure to blue light from their devices, and to marketing messages that undermine their appearance, accomplishments and worth as humans… it’s no wonder they’re breaking down,” she adds.

While it is too early to make any direct connections about the value of cannabis to treat burnout, there is preliminary evidence that it could help. A 2018 study conducted by Washington State University examined how people’s self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by smoking different strains and quantities of cannabis at home. The study results indicated that “10 puffs or more of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress.”

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