Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

Using aromatherapy for stress relief is effective for people of all ages, from babies to grandparents. It is gentle and effective for all kinds of physical and emotional problems. Aromatherapy has been around for 6000 years and was used by the Egyptians and the Romans. So it's beneficial effects have stood the test of time!

Aroma means scent or smell. Our noses pick up all kinds of smells all day long, some nice and some unpleasant. Have you noticed how certain smells instantly remind you of a person or a place? You get a whiff of that smell and you are mentally transported back to the time you associate with it. This is because your sense of smell is directly connected to emotional and memory centres in your brain.

For this reason aromatherapy has very powerful effects on your feelings and nervous system. This is why it is so helpful for conditions caused by stress.

There are many essential oils available. They are produced by distilling the flowers (or other parts of the plant depending on the oil) in steam which extracts the essential oil. Some oils are very expensive because of the enormous number of flowers needed to produce a small amount of oil. One 15ml bottle of rose oil, for instance, could contain the distillation of 30 kilos of rose petals!

The following oils are used most often in aromatherapy for stress relief:

Lavender is one of the most well known anti-stress essential oils. It has a wonderful soothing smell which has a sedative effect and can also be helpful in depression. It is particularly suitable for babies and young children. Use some in a massage oil to rub into your baby's skin after a bath at bedtime or float a few drops on water in a burner with a tealight underneath to release the aroma into the air while reading your children a bedtime story. Just remember to blow out the candle before leaving your child to go to sleep.

If you are using aromatherapy for stress relief then chamomile essential oil is very effective. Try putting some on a small piece of cotton wool and having it on your pillow at night. It will help you to sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed. Chamomile is another essential oil that is particularly good for babies, especially if they are teething.

Jasmine is great if you are feeling tired and want a pick me up. It will help you to feel more alert and ready to cope with life.

You can also try lemon for a similar effect. Lemon aromatherapy oil has been used in some offices and found to greatly reduce the number of errors that employees make. The oil is extracted from the skin of the lemon. No need to buy expensive oil, just grate the rind of a lemon to get that wonderful heady smell of lemon oil.

Bergamot has a wonderful zingy, fresh smell. It is said to make you feel happier and more relaxed.

If your stress levels are causing heart palpitations then neroli is the oil for you. It will help you to relax in mind and body and is very relaxing for muscles if used as a massage oil.

Petitgrain can help to calm an overactive mind. Try it if you suffer from panic attacks or get angry easily. It is also good for insomnia.

Ylang ylang can relieve anxiety and depression. It’s great if you are feeling generally stressed for no specific reason. Also good for calming palpitations. Is stress having a bad effect on your sex life? Try ylang ylang to increase your libido.

Sandalwood helps to create clarity of mind and relieve tension. It is calming and can help you to feel more at peace in your life. Make sure you use East Indian sandalwood as it is much better quality than the cheaper Australian one.

How to use aromatherapy for stress relief

There are many ways that you can use aromatherapy essential oils.

Firstly, it is important to remember that these oils are very strong and should always be diluted. Never use them undiluted on your skin and do not take them internally. Some people may have allergic reactions to some oils, so use an oil with caution if you have not used it before. Some oils cannot be used during pregnancy, so check with an experienced aromatherapist if you are pregnant.

To dilute an oil you can mix it with a natural carrier oil such as almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, etc.

To use oils you can:

~ Put some drops of oil into an aromatherapy oil burner like the one in the picture. It works best to put a little water in and then put the drops of oil on the water, then light a tealight underneath the oil bowl. If you burn the oil without water it doesn’t last very long and the intense heat can spoil the oil and make it smell a bit burnt. You can buy special aroma stones and electric steam diffusers which also work well.

~ A great way to use aromatherapy for stress relief is to use one or more oils for a massage. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil to 15ml or more of one of the oils mentioned above. Rub this oil into your skin, or even better, find someone willing to give you a massage. Massaging your baby, toddler, child or teenager is a great way to help them relax and to increase your connection and intimacy with them. Exchanging a massage with your partner is a lovely way to spend time together.

~ Add a few drops of oil, mixed with a carrier oil, to your bath water. Lie back, relax and inhale the soothing fragrances.

~ Use steam inhalation by adding 3-7 drops of oil to about 1 litre of boiling water in a bowl or a special inhaler. Breathe in the steam, keeping your head about 30 cms away from the bowl. Take a break for a few seconds every few breaths. You can also inhale the vapours by adding a few drops of oil to a handkerchief or piece of cotton wool and place it about 30-60cms away from your head.

~ For everyday household use try adding a few drops of oil to your rubbish bins, vacuum cleaner bag or on a small piece of cloth in your underwear drawer to keep your clothes smelling fresh. This is aromatherapy for stress relief without even trying!!

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