We have never been more aware as human beings of the impact stress can have on our health. And yet, stress is everywhere, like an epidemic. Anxiety is our body’s way of responding to a physical, emotional or intellectual challenge and can affect us all at various stages in life.
There are so many reasons why society is more stressful than it used to be and many of these we simply cannot change. We have to learn to manage our stress and accept that some things are simply out of our control. For sure, we can take steps to promote the healthiest lifestyle possible but unless you disengage completely from everyday life, it is hard to remove all of the stress totally from your day.
How to use Essential Oils for anxiety, stress, and depression
Essential oils can help us manage stress and periods of anxiety as part of our coping strategy. Essential oils pass to the brain via the olfactory system or the sense of smell. From there, the oils affect and influence the limbic system which is the segment of the brain that deals with emotions, memories, and stimulation.
There is evidence to suggest that essential oils can impact brain wave activity both calming anxiety and reducing stress.
Routines to help de-stress can be really important to keep stress at a level that is both manageable and less damaging to your health.
Stress relief essential oil blend containing Cananga (ylang-ylang), Geranium, Lemongrass, and Sweet Orange
Here are some activities you can try with the addition of some essential oils to mitigate the damaging effects of stress and anxiety:
- Ritualistic relaxing bath time – set yourself out some ‘me time’ with a relaxing warm bath. Add a few drops of lavender oil, noted for its calming and relaxing properties. Lavender mixes beautifully with the heavily floral Ylang-Ylang. Install a diffuser in your bedroom so you can unwind in bed with a good book whilst the delicate floral notes pervade your atmosphere. Finish with a few drops of lavender oil or rose geranium on your pillow to aid restful sleep
- Imagery in a bottle – one tried and trusted technique of dealing with the immediacy of a stressful situation is to take a mental walk in your head, down a cool green path, and into a meadow full of spring flowers. Harness the power of your imagination and let the peace of the scene wash over you, listen to the bird song, and deeply inhale the beautiful fragrances of the flowers. Some people call this guided imagery and one way to really transport yourself to that secluded meadow is to use inhalation of essential oils. Add a few drops of bergamot, rose geranium and lavender to a base or carrier oil and then carry a small amount with you in your handbag ready for use. When you are on your mental ‘time out’ then just dab a couple of drops onto either wrist or on a tissue. The all-pervading scents will transport you faster than anything to that beautiful place. Your peaceful location can be anywhere that is special to you, a beach, a secluded garden, a favorite spot from your past. Wherever it is, it is important to embrace it with all of your senses and essential oils can help you do this – smell is one of the most powerful influences on the memory.
- Mindfulness and meditation – mindfulness is a very popular modern practice of just being in the moment, concentrating on taste, sound, smell and hearing. By focusing on our senses in a disciplined way, our active brain is diverted from the endless hamster wheel of worry and anxiety. It stills the mind and allows us to step off the merry-go-round even for just a short period of time. Choose a peaceful room to meditate in or practice mindfulness. Dim the lights and use scented essential oil candles. The light of candles is quite different from artificial light, it has a warmth and innate calmness to it with the soft flicker of the flame. As the candles burn, the fragrance of the oils will fill the air so focus on the perfumes and what they make you feel or imagine. Use candles made with rose oil which has a known impact on slowing rapid breathing and decreasing the heart rate.
- Physical touch and massage – a simple hug can be a stress reliever, it releases oxytocin or the ‘cuddle hormone’ as it is often called. Oxytocin promotes happiness and decreases worry and stress. Why not try an essential oils massage? Combine the physical effect of light touch with the calming properties of oils of neroli, lavender, and bergamot. The deep floral scents will pervade the atmosphere around you as the oils warm in response to the human skin, releasing their perfume. If you are alone or in a location where a massage is not possible then gently rub a couple of drops of the oil combo onto your temples, easy to do even in public. Gently massage in with slow circular motions. Using essential aromatherapy products after you bathe can also have a calming and relaxing effect. Make your own after bath moisturizer with a few drops of your favorite oils blended together and then slowly massage into warm skin before you go to bed. There is no better way to de-stress.
All of these oils should be mixed in a base or carrier oil like sweet almond or coconut as they can be very strong when used in undiluted form and can irritate the skin or sensitive airways.
Lavender, rose, ylang-ylang and bergamot are nature’s stable of calmers, these are the oils you go to for peace and relaxation. All of these oils blend well together or in different combinations so are ideal for bath oils, room diffusers, personal inhalers, and body massage.
Essential oils treat the mind as well as the body, but many people report that hemp gummies can also help calm the mood