Stress and anxiety are two villains of modern-day living that often cohabitate. Anxiety is a commonly experienced symptom of ongoing chronic stress. Both have a negative impact on our ability to cope with and enjoy our day to day living. Maintaining the way of life that we in the western world have created for ourselves often necessitates working long hours. Family commitments, nurturing our relationships, finding time for ourselves, household chores and a bit of sleep thrown in make for hectic schedules. Finding a healthy balance is necessary for good health but can be challenging. Aromatherapy is well documented for its ability to positively affect the way we feel. A variety of relevant essential oils and the products that contain them are discussed here.
Stress: a stimulant to get things done
Minor levels of stress, or stress experienced for a short period of time around a particular situation, serve a valuable purpose in that it creates motivation to move forward with things and achieve what needs to be done.
The production of cortisol
Stress, more than we would probably like, has become a daily experience for most people. The hormone cortisol is released in the brain when you are stressed.
Cortisol is involved in several functions – traditionally, its main task is to give a quick burst of energy during emergency situations, temporarily increased immunity and a higher pain threshold – so it was and still is vital for survival in primitive cultures. In between these times of emergency, the levels of cortisol drop again, and normal healthy states of hormonal activity reign. However, in our current high-stress culture, cortisol levels are often constantly too high, which means we are in a continually higher than normal state of alertness. If we remain in this state of high alert for long periods of time, other symptoms, such as anxiety, are experienced without breaks. Anxiety is stressful, and so this debilitating cycle is perpetuated.
Stress and anxiety: the effect on our emotional well-being
The relationship between stress and irritability is well documented. Not only do we feel stress inside ourselves, but it has a nasty tendency to impact those around us because we are less able to regulate our emotions, and this is evident in the ways we relate with others. High level, long term stress is a factor in relationships breaking down.
Stress and anxiety: physical effects
Anxiety – uses up a lot of mental energy focusing on negative trains of thought. Neural pathways that are most frequently travelled become well worn, making it easier for the same messages to travel the same ways again and again. Stress and anxiety are known to cause physical symptoms, such as headache, tension-related conditions – holding stress in different parts of the body like across the shoulders, ‘butterflies’ in the tummy, nausea, sleep disturbances and insomnia.
Aromatherapy to Relieve Symptoms of Stress
Aromatherapy alone can’t cure stress – that will need lifestyle changes, shifts in attitude and perhaps some re-prioritising. Using essential oils as you go about your daily tasks is one of many things you can do to combat high-stress levels. Look at using essential oils with a grounding or balancing effect or give you an emotional lift. Aromatherapy can easily be integrated into your life even while you are busy. It takes only 26 seconds for essentials oils that you apply to your skin to be absorbed….so why wait??? Alleviate some of the stress in your life will have a positive impact across all areas of health.
Essential oils to help combat symptoms of stress
Here’s a list of the most commonly used essential oils for aromatherapy purposes: vetiver, spikenard, geranium, roman chamomile, lavender, frankincense, cedarwood atlas, sweet orange, grapefruit, rose otto, neroli, cistus, benzoin, sandalwood, bergamot, mandarin, blue tansy, ravensara, marjoram
Please enjoy reading and trying these aromatherapy recipes. They will help bring a sense of groundedness, balance and happiness to people who sometimes have difficulty finding the time to stop and smell the flowers.
Sometimes just taking the lid off the bottle and inhaling the aroma of a particular essential oil will be enough to make a shift. For stress, try frankincense, rose, geranium or red mandarin. The fragrance of each as a stand-alone oil is lovely, and the therapeutics versatile and very well implicated in the area of stress relief.
To relax in a bath is one of life’s simple pleasures. It can be as long or as short as you need it to be. For most people, it involves no prior organisation, no cost to speak of, and it is right there in your bathroom, just waiting for you to hop in! To dive into an aromatherapy bath is one of life’s simply luxurious pleasures and also needs no prior organisation, has a minimal cost and offers incredible health benefits both physically and emotionally – in terms of stress relief strategies, it’s right up there!
So, find your book, get a big glass of wine, run the bath hot and deep and try one of these beautiful combinations of essential oils and feel the stresses of the day melting away…..
Relax and Uplift
- 2 Jasmine
- 4 grapefruit
- 2 bergamot
Ground and Balance
- 2 vetiver
- 3 clary sage
- 2 geranium
Sweeten, soothe and calm
- 2 orange
- 3 lavender
- 2 frankincense
These blends are also suitable for oil burners and diffusers – depending on the size of the bowl, you may want to adjust the number of drops accordingly.
If you are a fan of massage then you can use a mixture of essential oils with great aromas and ask your partner to help you with your aromatherapy.
For a stress-buster aromatherapy massage start with a tablespoon of carrier oil (15 ml) and blend the following:
- 3 Frankincense
- 3 patchouli
- 6 lavender
- 3 bergamot
Use the oil blend all over the body or just on the soles of the feet. It’s a well-known fact that touch is healing, so ideally, get someone else to massage you in an environment where you are really comfy and let these oils really go to work.