Stress, there’s no way to avoid it, and it's actually not the demon it is sometimes made out to be. Stress actually can force us into action. When a deadline is approaching, the stress we feel motivates us to action to complete the task. The concern with stress comes when it becomes overwhelming, unmanaged, or in the face of major events.
So, how can we use aromatics to destress? Here are my Top 20 ways to de-stress using aromatics
When we are under stress, our breathing can become shallow and fast. Oils such as Frankincense can help slow our breathing and help us connect back to our bodies.
Laughing is a great way to destress and unwind. Pink Grapefruit is like a burst of cheerfulness and joy, and will help alleviate mood swings and feelings of distress.
Bergamot has a light uplifting effect, and that’s how you feel when you move your body through dance. No you don’t need to dance in time with the music or even follow certain steps. It’s about moving your body. Shake those hips, shimmy those shoulders, stamp those feet. Put on your favorite song from high school and just dance.
- Have fun
Sweet Orange is one oil that always brings a smile to people’s faces. It's a great oil to remind you to have fun and enjoy life. Let out that inner child and just play. Grab a board game and play it with a friend or go to the theatre. Whatever fun is for you, do that.
We all know the benefits of exercise on our bodies and our minds. But did you know that Peppermint oil can help with your exercise too? There is a lot of research into exercise performance and endurance using Peppermint essential oil. Some of the research suggests that inhaling the oil prior to exercise can help with performance. Inhale a small amount of peppermint and allow it's cooling effect to soothe your mind and body.
Meditation is a great way to relax and release tension from your body and mind. It doesn’t need to be long meditations, short meditations will be just as effective as longer ones. Frankincense is a great oil to use, as is Cedarwood, Sandalwood or Myrrh. Myrrh can help you remain present, in the moment, and not worrying about what might happen.
Rest or sleep is a great way to allow the body the recover from what is happening to it. Adding Lavender to your rest or sleep routine can also help your body release tension and ease the physical and emotional pain of stress.
- Get a massage
Relieve the tension in your body from stress with a massage. Add Helichrysum to your body massage oil for its anti-inflammatory and skin calming properties. But another reason to add it is its ability to help with emotional blockages.
- Enjoy intimacy with your partner or yourself
Spending quality time with your partner can be a great way to relieve stress. Jasmine can help you both get in the mood. Don’t have a partner? Don’t worry, enjoy some intimate time with yourself.
- Participate in your favorite pastime
A wonderful way to relieve stress is to do things that bring you joy, so participating in your favorite pastime will help bring it back. Add Nutmeg essential oil to help relieve any fatigue you might be feeling. It releases doubt, resistance and allows you to embrace spontaneity and joy. Nutmeg has gotten a bad rap over the past few years, but know that in the right amount it can be beneficial for the body and mi d.
- Dress aromatically
Have you heard of the term ‘to dress aromatically’? It’s not a new concept or idea, in fact Karen Downes and Judith White, authors of ‘Aromatherapy for Scentual Awareness’ discussed the topic way back in 1993. Aromatic dressing is a term they use to describe a day by design. It involves a daily body rub with a carrier oil to nourish the skin, but with essential oils added to support the body and mind. They believed that dressing aromatically was the secret to staying vital and energetic throughout life.
A lovely oil to start dressing aromatically is Rose Geranium. We know that this oil can help balance our hormones, balance our emotions and balance our mind. Start with a small bowl, add an ounce of your favorite carrier oil such as Jojoba or Grapeseed, then add a drop or two of the essential oil. After your shower, apply the mix all over your body.
- Spend time in nature
We are all starting to realize the benefits of spending time in nature. In fact there is a growing body of research that supports this, and the term ‘forest bathing’ is becoming more widely known. If you can’t get out into nature, then bring the smell of it into your day. Pine essential oil is a great one to start with, as it is known for having a clarifying, uplifting, and invigorating effect.
- Buy yourself some flowers
Receiving flowers is great but why wait to get that feeling from someone else, when we can buy ourselves the flowers. Having flowers around us is another way to spend time in nature albeit on a different level. Some flowers don’t have the strong aromatic aroma, so thankfully we can add essential oils to our environment to help. I recommend Rose. Not only is it aromatically beautiful, it is also known as the oil of love.
- Write it down
Another great way to reduce stress is to write it down. When we keep things in our heads, we can overthink them or catastrophize them. Writing it down gets it out of your head and onto paper. Use Lemon essential oil as you write. Lemon can help ease your fears, as well as help calm your mind. It’s uplifting aroma can also help you in making decisions without overstimulating you.
- Learn something new
When your mind is focussed on one thing, it can’t think of all the other things. In other words, if you are learning something new, your mind is focussed on that, and not thinking about your stressful situation. Use Basil essential oil as you learn something new as it is known as one of the brains finest remedies. It helps clear your mind and help ease any fatigue of the mind. There’s a reason many use it in their ‘focus’ essential oil blends.
- Sing or Scream it out
There is evidence to suggest that singing helps ease stress. We’re not talking about singing in public, because that would induce stress in many of us, however just singing in a safe space can ease our stresses and reduce our cortisol levels. Don’t worry about whether you can hold a tune or not, it’s the act of singing rather than the quality of the voice that matters. Screaming can have a similar effect too. Use Juniper essential oil as on a metaphysical level it can release your fears and bring in a sense of courageousness. My favorite song to sing - Let It Go from the Disney movie ‘Frozen’. The words seem to help release the stress - just let it go.
- Take a Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to clear the mind and help you think more clearly. Lemongrass has a similar effect. Not only is Lemongrass uplifting and energizing but it also assists with fresh, logical and clear thinking. So get walking and get smelling Lemongrass.
- Practice gratitude
The act of practising gratitude is about being thankful for the good things we do have in life, and helps us to find the good in what we have. Practising gratitude gives us a more positive disposition, and is known to improve our decision making abilities. Add Lime essential oil to help uplift and refresh your mind, and help you see gratitude in everything around you.
The practice of mindfulness is about focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It’s about becoming aware of oneself without judgement. Add Palo Santo essential oil is known for its grounding and calming properties. Being grounded and calm is an important part of being mindful and practising mindfulness.
- Watch your favorite movie
Whether you’ve watched it once or a thousand times, watching your favorite movie can alleviate feelings of stress. To help you unwind and escape into the movie, smell the relaxing aroma of Chamomile (German).
So, now you’ve got some ideas on ways to de-stress and what oils you can use, you may be wondering how you can best use the oils mentioned. Simple inhalation or diffusion is the best option. A drop on a tissue to carry with you as you go, or a couple of drops in your diffuser will work wonders.
Essential oils have numerous uses and properties. The suggestions above are just that - suggestions. The important thing to address is your stress, and how it is affecting your health and happiness. Focus on taking small steps each and every day. I like to call stress management my self care practice. I choose one oil each day, and allow it to support my emotional health. This helps keep my stress levels under control. When I notice myself not feeling right, I take action and do something different. The suggestions above are some of the things I do, but are also suggestions from many stress management teachers and books.
Remember, if it is all becoming a little too overwhelming, reach out to a healthcare professional or a trusted friend or colleague. There is always help available.