When you think about aromatherapy your first thoughts are probably about things like lavender oil and other essential oils like bergamot or Ylang Ylang. While these can definitely have a place in managing stress they are not the only way to experience the benefits of aromas. In this article I am going to look at how to use aromatherapy for stress relief using both essential oils and other everyday sources of stress relieving aromas.
Essential Oils For Stress Relief
Essential oils are basically concentrated oils from plants which are typically quite strongly scented. A number of them have been shown to be helpful in relieving stress and are a great alternative to taking medication. They can also give quick relief which can be helpful for sudden or short-term periods of stress.
To use essential oils you can experience their benefits is 2 different ways:
- Inhalation: When you inhale the aroma of an essential oil it causes stimulation of the olfactory nerves which then trigger the limbic system in the brain. This system in the brain controls things like blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing – all things which can be affected by stress. Soothing the limbic system is therefore a great remedy for stress
- Skin Absorption: The oils can be applied to the skin, usually mixed into a cream or carrier oil and then absorbed directly into the bloodstream. As they circulate around the body they can help to relieve tension in the muscles and the aches and pains associated with stress.
The Best Essential Oils For Relieving Stress
While there are many essential oils which are linked to stress relief, I have narrowed the list down to the six I feel are the best choices for using in aromatherapy for stress relief.
Lavender is probably the most famous of all the essential oils and has many benefits including relieving feelings of stress. It creates a feeling of calmness and relaxation which can also help to relieve restlessness, irritability, “butterflies in the stomach”, insomnia and even panic attacks.
Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage has a classically earthy fragrance and has been used effectively to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. It has also been used to relieve feelings of depression by creating feelings of inner peace and wellbeing. Women who suffer from PMS often use Clary sage to relieve their symptoms and balance hormones.
Rose oil is a beautifully fragrant oil which has been used to soothe emotional upsets such as periods of stress as well as grief and depression. It can be used both as an inhalation and in the bath to help relieve low moods and hormone imbalance. The uplifting aroma of rose oil is great for boosting your mental strength and promoting feelings of confidence.
Ylang Ylang Oil
Ylang ylang oil comes from the Indonesian Cananga tree and is often referred to as the aphrodisiac among the essential oils but it also has a role to play in relieving stress. When inhaled it helps to calm your heart rate, create a feeling of relaxation and improve low mood. This all helps to reduce stress and anxiety by releasing negative emotions from your thoughts.
Chamomile is often associated with herbal teas but as an essential oil it can create feelings of calm and peacefulness which help to soothe stress symptoms as well as anxiety. This is great for when stress is leading to insomnia as it also helps to promote a good night’s sleep
Jasmine oil is particularly popular in many Asian countries and is used to treat stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It has a stimulating effect on the brain which helps to improve mood and increase energy levels. It can also be used to help detox the system and leave you feeling fresher and more able to cope with life.
How To Make Use of Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great way to get quick and easy relief from stress and here are a few simple methods to enjoy the benefits.
- Add a few drops to an aromatherapy burner and enjoy as the vapours fill the air around you
- Apply a few drops of the oil onto a tissue and then inhale the vapours for quick results
- Add a few drops of the oil to a warm bath and then enjoy inhaling the aromas while luxuriating in the bath
- If stress is keeping you awake at night then sprinkle a few drops onto your pillow
- Mix your chosen essential oil into a carrier oil or body lotion and massage it into any tired or achy muscles.
- Create a spritz by mixing some of the essential oil with some water in a spray bottle.
Alternative Aromatherapy For Stress Relief
Aromas play a huge part in our lives. When you wake up, perhaps you are greeted by the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls baking on the stove. As you travel to work in the morning, maybe you smell oil outside the car. With so many smells and aromas around us, is it any wonder today that some smells are more inviting than others?
Aromatherapy can be beneficial for anyone. Not only does it produce pleasing smells, but it also does wonders to help you relax. After a long day, you may feel stressed and uptight.
As a result, your muscles tense up; you can feel your entire body fill with stress, which can cause your blood pressure to rise. This is the body’s natural reaction to stress. Stress caused by a long day or a life-changing event can pour into every aspect of your life.
Because of this you feel tired, overwhelmed. This is an all too familiar scenario for most people, regardless of where you live.
Our lives are evolving constantly. We go to work, and are faced with unending responsibilities and tight deadlines. And of course, there is often no relief for the feelings of stress that course through your body or for the concerns that flood your mind.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a reason to lose yourself and reduce stress simultaneously, consider a few simple techniques that involve aromatherapy.
Pour yourself a bubble bath. This is one gift you can give yourself to help lift your stress and give you quiet time for yourself. Pick up some bubble bath solution at the shop. Some popular scents include vanilla or strawberry. Once you pour your bath, immerse yourself in the water. In addition to helping you relax, the warm water will permeate into your pores and surround you in a warm and comforting sensation.
If it helps, light some scented candles, and dim or turn off the lights. Sit in the glow of candles, as the aromas float to your nostrils.
As a stress management technique, aromatherapy is incredibly effective in helping you relax.
Massage oils are also effective in helping you relax. Applying scented massage oils gives you the opportunity to enjoy a comforting smell. The gentle stimulation of a massage also helps to melt away feelings of stress.
Many smells in today’s world are actually a cause of stress, and may actually contribute to making you tense. Such smells include the smell of tar and smoke, which are usually a source of worry and anticipation.
In today’s busy lifestyle, it may seem difficult and sometimes impossible to find time for yourself. The kids need dinner; the laundry needs to be done; the list goes on and on. Even if you are overwhelmed with responsibilities, lighting a scented candle in the living room, or baking some cookies will give the house a warm, inviting feeling. This may help relax your body and eventually lift your stress.
Another helpful aromatherapy technique that can help alleviate stress is to visit a food market where fresh food is sold. You don’t have to buy anything, but by visiting this type of store, you can immerse yourself in the delectable smells of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as the smell of freshly baked goods.
If you are more discerning in your taste, and prefer only sweet smells, forgo the fresh produce market and opt for a local bakery. The scents in markets and bakeries are often reminiscent of old memories, which may actually bring you comfort and help you relax.
Perhaps your grandmother used to bake lemon meringue pie in her kitchen when you were young. If you smell lemon meringue in the bakery, you may be overcome with feelings of warmth and comfort. And you may begin to think of your grandmother.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, enjoy the experience and watch your stress begin to dissipate. Another great thing is that many foods are associated with warmth and happiness. Surrounding yourself with the smells of these foods can recreate these happy feelings and as a result can help you relax.
Aromatherapy can also help boost your mood. Smells have different effects. Some are sensual. Vanilla and chocolate, for example, are both aphrodisiacs. Studies have shown that chocolate is effective in heightening male arousal, while vanilla is generally preferred by females.
These smells, of course, can lead to feelings of pleasure and desire, which have a relaxing effect. They can even produce feelings of euphoria and elation, and are great stress relievers, as they serve two purposes.
First of all, they are pleasing to the nose, but they may aid in sexual desire. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, plays a huge role in sex, as does serotonin. Serotonin is critical to attraction, and actually helps reduce stress and aids in stress management.
How To Use Aromatherapy For Stress Relief
Aromatherapy is undoubtedly a great solution for times of stress and can give quick and effective relief. You can go for some essential oils and use them like we described earlier.
Or maybe just light some candles, and surround yourself with sweet scents. It’s nice to know that stress relief could be only as far away as your pantry or spice rack!
Enjoy the sweet smell of relieving stress today!
By the way…
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