Handling Stress With Essential Oils

How Aromatherapy can help battle Stress  By: Amy Hansel

In society today, stress is synonymous with daily life. We have unsurmountable debt, work stress, family life and activities, feeding and caring for your kids, dealing with struggles and issues apparent throughout. It is not surprising that anxiety and stress disorders are on the rise. It is just who we are. Some affected deal with caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and prescriptions from Doctors. It is not the norm to stop, breathe, meditate, use essential oils to help calm the body; but it is becoming more and more aware. People are learning they don’t need the coping habit they have used prior and had no help with. Caffeine won’t solve issues, it speeds the heart and restricts the blood vessels. Alcohol and drugs are not going to do anything but put a bandage on the issue and when you come down from the effects, still have the same issues. Not to mention the health issues that come from overusing them even possible death. Lastly, prescriptions from Doctors can lead to a long-term addiction and still cause health and behavior changes. If only a natural alternative was out there.

What is Aromatherapy? It is simply to use essential plant oils to promote and improve well-being. The oils are extracted from the plants pieces and parts in different ways. They can be steam distilled, cold expressed, enfleurage, Solvent extracted and more. Once the oils are extracted and bottled they can be applied or used in several ways to promote wellness in the body. One of the most popular ways to use them are with a diffuser. You mix a few drops of oil in water and they are mixed and dispersed through the air. You then breathe them in. Another popular way to use them is topical use. You can mix it with a carrier oil and apply it to various areas of the body to promote healing and wellness in those areas. This method would be very helpful with a stress management routine because you can create a massage oil with the oils and carrier oil and have another person or yourself rub the mixture into the shoulders, muscles, joints and other areas of tension. This would be a very soothing approach to help battle a stressful day. In short, Aromatherapy offers a natural, organic alternative to not only help relieve stress but to help the body repair itself.

Unmanaged Stress can be very dangerous. Stress affects your blood sugar levels and can eventually lead to insulin sensitivity. People that use food as a coping mechanism can experience weight gain leading to unhealthy weight management and more health issues from that. Stress ages you faster. It causes premature aging, and it can cause various pain throughout the body. Headaches, chest pains, fatigue, stomach upset, sleep problems, and even lowered sex drive are effects of stress on the body. Stress also effects the mood. Anxiety, restlessness, feeling overwhelmed or irritable and sadness or depression are all ways stress effects the mood. Lastly, stress makes changes to your behavior too. People under enormous stress can have angry outbursts, suffer from drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, and withdrawing from social situations. The good news to this is that Essential oils can be used to aide pretty much every one of those effects and stress overall.

A woman looks tired, stress in office

Some people may be skeptical of the effectiveness of oils, but a study was conducted by Ruhr University in Germany and the conclusion stated, “essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.” What’s also interesting is that Oils can be both stimulating and calming at the same time. For someone that is depressed, an oil may be uplifting and stimulating. While a person that’s overwound and restless can be calmed and at peace with an oil. This would be why some refer to Oils as “adaptogens.” They can literally adapt to the situation. This is also why they make such a great choice for Stress, they can adapt to many different situations.

So, what oils would be the most beneficial for Stress? Here are the top oils for stress: Lavender, Cinnamon Leaf, Cedarwood, Clary sage, Eucalyptus, Rose, Orange, Sandelwood, Ylang Ylang, Peppermint, Jasmine, Lemongrass, and Copaiba. While all of these are good for Stress and Stressful situations, they are good for different reasons and one may not be good for your case. It is important to read about the oils and see which will benefit you most. I am going to choose 5 to talk about in depth.

Lavender is probably one of the most used plants of all. It’s used in baby lotions and washes, teas, perfumes, air purifiers and cleaners and more. It has a very floral aroma and its light not too heavy. Lavender Essential oil is great for helping with mental clarity and concentration, calming the mind and body, and helps with insomnia. This oil can be used in many ways, but directly on the skin diluted would ensure it began working quickly. The blood stream shows the lavender in as little as 5 min of being rubbed on the skin. If you are however, in the midst of a panic attack direct inhalation would provide immediate assistance. You can either have a homemade inhaler with you with the drops of lavender on it and breathe it in directly. Or you can use a handkerchief or other cotton fabric and place a few drops them inhale directly from that. It should provide an immediate calming effect. This would be great for anxious travelers as well! Lastly in instances of stress headaches, you can dilute a couple of drops and rub into your temples massaging as you rub. That will help relieve a tension headache.

The next oil is Cinnamon Leaf oil. When thinking about stress relieving oils this one may not be on the forefront of your mind. But don’t count this oil out! It has anti-inflammatory properties and works to reduce drowsiness. It can stimulate the mind and body when you’re exhausted giving you a burst of energy, and it can soothe aching muscles and body.  For stress and anxiety, it is recommended that the oil is inhaled. This can be done using an inhaler or the same method with the cotton cloth and a couple of drops placed and then inhaled. The other option is to make a great massage oil mixed with orange and a carrier oil too. This is a great oil to have on hand.

The third oil is Cedarwood oil. Cedarwood is a fantastic to have on hand! It has biological properties that make the aroma help release serotonin, which is used to stabilize moods. It is great at relieving stress and tension. It can also be used to induce sleep and fight insomnia. It can be used as a natural sedative because the serotonin is converted to melatonin which is the chemical that controls and regulates sleep. For use, you can use the same inhalation method as previous or for this one, you can dilute a couple of drops and rub it in on your forehead or at the base of the neck and it will help relieve tension. This is one oil you want if you have issues with sleep, relaxing, calming down, etc.

The fourth oil we are looking at is Eucalyptus oil. This is one of my favorite oils and favorite aromas. Its so invigorating and calming at the same time. It has a cooling effect, minty smell, and it can be a strong aroma. A little bit of this goes a long way. Eucalyptus is an oil that can be used for many different ailments. It is used for alleviating stress, energy boosts, mental fatigue and clarity, cold, congestion, and flu. It opens the airways and allows more breath to come into the body and as we all know breath is cleansing. You must have this oil as apart of your medicine cabinet! This oil can be used in a few ways. You can dilute the oil and add a few drops in your shower making sure to close the drain, so you get the full effect. It will create an amazing experience and open the airways. You can apply it topically to a few places, wrists, feet, temples, muscles, etc. are all good places to help ease tension. Make sure you always dilute! Lastly, you can use it to inhale either with an inhaler, a cloth or a diffuser. It is an oil you must have.

Lastly, my absolute favorite oil that I use daily is Peppermint. It is one of the most popular oils around. I mean who doesn’t love peppermint candies, toothpaste, scents, sprays, lotions etc. Just think of Christmas and tell me peppermint isn’t the poster oil for that season! But this amazing oil does so much more than smell nice! It contains menthol which is a natural anesthetic. It gives a cooling sensation and unlike other oils, it is more concentrated, so it should NEVER be used undiluted. Peppermint will help keep you alert, concentrate, calm any restlessness, and give you a peppy boost. You can use peppermint oil for inhalation to help give you a boost of energy. You can apply it topically diluted to help with fatigue and leave you feeling refreshed. This is one oil to use for a number of reasons and it will be a best friend.

With any of these oils you can relieve the heaviness that is stress in your life. You can calm your mind and body, open up your airways and cleanse the body with breath. Any of the oils I listed and more still out there are available as a natural and safe alternative to the coping mechanisms people are currently using. You don’t have to cause more stress on your body, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed, you can take your life and health into your hands and choose better alternatives. Essential oils are there when you’re ready.