Aromatherapy has gained much attention in recent years. Preliminary research has shown that aromatherapy has the potential to change brain activity, reduce the perception of stress and stimulate the release of endorphins, while at the same time reducing cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Aromatherapy is an effective tool to treat anxiety and stress as it comes with very few side effects. While anti-anxiety drugs are popular among those who seek a quick fix, they can be extremely addictive and cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or extreme anxiety. (Related Article: Aromatherapy 101)
Natural plant sources are rich in soothing and calming aromas which work best when inhaled. These aromas are thought to stimulate the parts of the brain associated with stress and anxiety, thus relieving it. Commonly known as essential oils, aromatherapy oils work wonders when either inhaled or massaged on the skin.
Aromatherapy believes that a winning strategy for overall health begins with stress reduction. For our physical body which interprets stress as pain, these following essential oils are more than helpful.
1. Lavender: The lightly sweet and fresh floral scent of lavender is loved by most for its relaxing and calming effects. When inhaled, the scent calms down the hyperactive brain and initiates an alpha brain wave activity (relaxed state of mind). (Related Article: 7 Recipes For Lavender Lovers)
2. Chamomile: Both Roman and German chamomile are known for their calming benefits. While the Roman variety has the ability to address extreme mental anxiety, anger and paranoia, the German one has an additional benefit in treating irritated skin.
3. Rose Geranium: This oil works in co-ordination with the liver chakras and dispels toxins out of the system. The flowery scent of rose geranium can balance the hormone levels and thus provide a major relaxation boost.
4. Bergamot: This light citrusy smelling oil aids in restoring the hypothalamus and thus manages the levels of hormones. It also imparts a state of homeostasis and calmness.
5. Sandalwood: The woodsy scent of sandalwood works on the brain’s limbic system. It not only works to balance the emotions, but also in strengthening the immune system. (Related Article: Calm Your Nerves With A Ylang-Ylang And Sandalwood Bath)
6. Clary Sage: It works to reduce sleeplessness and anxiety.
7. Jasmine: This flowery aroma is useful in relieving headaches, insomnia and also depression. It uplifts the mind and body and instills a feeling of optimism and confidence, thus alleviating anxiety.
8. Frankincense: Rich in sesquiterpenes, the lush and exotic aroma of frankincense is powerful in managing stress. The sesquiterpenes can penetrate the blood brain barrier and carry the much-needed oxygen to the brain. This stimulates the limbic system and the hypothalamus, which works to dissipate stress.
Related Article: Why Essential Oils Can Help With Anxiety
How To Use Aromatherapy For Stress Relief?
Here are some ideas to incorporate aromatherapy in your daily life.
1. Candles: Buy some scented aromatherapy candles to create a soothing atmosphere in your room or house.
2. Body Products: Various natural body products contain these essential oils and can be used on a daily basis. Alternatively, dab a few drops of the oil itself on the skin (pulse points) and smell it intermittently for a calming effect.
3. Diffusers: Another way to create a calm, relaxing atmosphere is to use aromatherapy diffusers. These can be battery-operated or candle-lit and dispel the aroma of the oils across the house.
4. Baths: These exotic and fresh fragrances can be incorporated to create a stress-relieving bath. (Related DIY: Spa Wellness: Rosemary-Basil Aromatherapy Bath)
Aromatherapy promotes healing and relaxation from within, and thus helps combat stress. If you don’t want to go for an exotic spa treatment, consider the various ways listed above to incorporate these luscious fragrances in your everyday life and bid goodbye to stress.