Aromatherapy For Stress Management | By Cassandra Bradshaw October 04 2018
As an aromatherapist working in a big bustling city I see a wide variety of clients who all share a common concern: stress. Between working long hours, commuting, student life, raising a family, and maintaining a home, life can certainly feel overwhelming. Chronic stress can affect work performance, social interactions, overall wellbeing and quality of life. The health implications of stress are both immediate and long term. Low energy, headaches, digestive issues, muscular aches and pains, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, low libido and immune dysfunction are some of the many symptoms of stress.
If stress levels are too high, the sympathetic (fight or flight) response is activated. Individuals suffering with chronic stress or anxiety are shown to have heightened stress levels on a more regular basis. By lowering stress levels, our parasympathetic, or ‘relaxed’ response is then activated. For sufferers of stress related disorders, it is imperative to activate the parasympathetic response often and when necessary to regain balance within the body, therefore maintaining a more stable mental state.
So, how do we reduce stress, without completely overhauling our lifestyles?
Several studies show certain essential oils can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, relieve muscular aches and pains, and can be used as powerful antidepressants. There are relatively no side effects in comparison to pharmaceuticals that are typically prescribed for stress related conditions. Therefore aromatherapy can provide a cost effective, safe and relatively accessible form of treatment for managing stress.
Scents can influence our mood, memory, emotions, entire nervous system, hormones and immune system. After inhalation, essential oil molecules are transported into the nasal cavity, where they enter the brain through the olfactory bulb and directly influence the nervous system. Inhaling essential oils is the fastest way of getting essential oils into the body - especially if we are looking to influence our ‘emotional brain’, which is the case when dealing with stress management. Essential oil inhalation can also be made portable, and can be used throughout the day as a way to ease the racing mind and regain calmness within our bodies. This is a proven useful coping mechanism during hectic daily life.
Essential oils can be used in many ways to receive the benefits of lowered stress: direct inhalation (from the bottle of the essential oil), indirect inhalation through a diffuser, topically as a facial product, in a bath or shower product, as an ingredient in a massage oil, added to home cleaning products or air freshening sprays, or in a perfume. Aromatherapy can also be used passively (ie. while working on something, meditating, trying to sleep etc) and/or privately if need be.
My favourite essential oils for stress: Bergamot, Frankincense, Orange, Sweet Marjoram, Neroli, and Lavender. These are widely used in aromatherapy for their uplifting, relaxing scent and ability to quickly calm the nervous system.
Try our Calm Down Wellness Roll-On with Bergamot + Lavender!
DIY Stress Relieving Bath Salts
1/2 cup Epsom salts
1/2 cup kosher or fine pink salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tbsp fractionated (aka liquid) coconut oil (can be purchased at most major grocery stores!)
5 drops Bergamot essential oil
5 drops Lavender essential oil
- Combine salts and soda in a bowl.
- In a separate small dish, combine oils.
- Mix the oils into the salts and stir until combined.
- Store in an air tight container.
Pour desired amount into a warm bath just before stepping in, and allow the scents to calm your mind and body.
Pro tip: Light some candles and pour a glass of wine (or kombucha in a wine glass!) for an extra self soothing relaxation sesh.