Aromatherapy for Stress Relief
Therapeutic Aromatherapy Oils
The therapeutic qualities of aromatherapy are often associated with the aroma, or odour, from plant oils. But essential oils work on multiple levels: Because odour is linked with the processing of memory and emotion in the brain, they can can be used to promote a healing response in the body. Also, essential oils work on a complex chemical level, so can produce physical effects in the body. Combining the use of aromatherapy oils with massage has a particularly effective effect on relaxation levels.
Using Oils at Home
Aromatherapy oils can be used at home in a variety of ways:
- Vaporisers: Add a couple of drops of essential oil to a vaporiser or oil burner. Use as directed - you may need to add a little water so that it does not burn.
- Bath: You can add 5 or 6 drops of oil to an emulsifier such as plain shower gel or bath foam, and pop into the bath for a relaxing soak.
- Massage: Dilute 2 drops of essential oil to every 5ml of carrier oil (6 drops to every 30 ml) and use for gentle massage.
- Inhalation: Fill a bowl with hot water and a couple of drops of oil to the bowl before inhaling. (Using Eucalyptus is great for respiratory infections)
- Creams and Lotions: Use a carrier cream, lotion or face mask base and add essential oil for an individual touch. The ratio is usually 2 drops to every 5 mls of product.
Aromatherapy and Emotion
When we use aromatherapy oils, it stimulates the limbic system, or the 'emotional' part of the brain. You can use this to your advantage by creating an association between a particular state, like deep relaxation, and a specific oil. If you do this regularly, it will trigger a particular emotional state (like relaxation) for you. This can be a really helpful way to help decrease the stress response.
However, this also means that aromatherapy will always contain an individualistic element. For example, if you have experienced a strong positive or negative emotional response in your life, and simultaneously been exposed to a particular odour, one may trigger the other. So, it's important to recognise that guidelines are only a generalisation. To get the best effects, you need to test the oils in person, and trust your instinct - whatever you are drawn to will be of most benefit for you.
Top 10 Essential Oils
Here are 10 oils which are most commonly used at home, and the conditions they are used for:
- Lavender: A great all-rounder. Use it for relaxation, insomnia and sleep problems, skincare and healing, relieving stress, or soothing the nervous system.
- Bergamot: Excellent for stress relief and anxiety, also relieves depression, uplifts the emotions, and increasing levels of overall vitality.
- Chamomile: There are 2 types of chamomile -German and Roman, both with similar properties - Reduces inflammation, bruising, skin conditions, and increases relaxation.
- Tea Tree: An oil which is multi-purpose: Use it for combating infections due to it's antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti viral properties. Good for anxiety, warming and soothing for emotions.
- Ylang Ylang: Use for when you need deep relaxation. Great for anxiety, feelings of panic or overwhelm. Also for hypertension, tension, and stress-related conditions.
- Rose: The ultimate heart-centred essential oil. Use Rose for deep emotional healing and self-care, Also excellent for skin health and conditions, depression and emotional balance
- Eucalyptus: The go-to oil for respiratory infections, coughs and colds, headaches, sinus blockage, and viral infections. Also good for mental clarity and uplifting the emotions.
- Lemon: Often used for it's antiseptic properties. Great for colds and flu, boosting the immune system, refreshing, uplifting the emotions, and soothing arthritic conditions.
- Peppermint: Associated with digestion and intestinal problems: Indigestion, digestive disorders, but also suitable for boosting the nervous or immune systems.
- Rosemary: Use for improving clarity of mind, relieving headaches, stress reduction, emotional balance, or when you feel lethargic and need uplifting.