Everyone has something to feel stressed about. Often, that "something" is more than one thing – especially when you consider family, work, the house, the bills (and that’s just the beginning). Would you believe your sense of smell is one way to help relieve those many stressors? Using essential oils – fragrant liquids derived the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant -- to help calm and soothe you offers a natural way of reducing anxiety, illness, depression, and other ailments, making you feel healthier, better rested, and more able to tackle that mile-long to-do list. Here are five fragrant oils and easy ways to get use them.
Lavender has been associated with cleanliness, easing exhaustion, and decreasing irritability for centuries – from the Christian story that it was used to dry Jesus’s swaddling clothes to its uses in Victorian times to revive women who had fainted. Try rubbing drops of it on your hands to inhale the scent, or on your pillow if you can’t sleep.
You may already be familiar with the citrusy taste and aroma of bergamot: It’s an essential part of traditional Earl Gray tea. Though bergamot is known to relieve stress and depression (some aromatherapists recommend taking a bergamot-scented cloth with you when traveling to make that one-hour connection a little less frustrating), it can also fight the flu, chicken pox, and herpes, and treat bacterial infections.
Like bergamot, chamomile in its plant form is popular as a calming tea blend – but in its essential oil form, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, a digestion aid, and a nerve soother. Use the oil as massage oil or dilute in water to make a bedroom spray that will help your whole family get a good night’s sleep. You can also add a few drops to your bath for a relaxing end to your day.
Lemon oil has been shown to help relax brain waves, making it easier for users to concentrate – so if your stress comes from trying to meet that work deadline, then it may be the oil for you. It also helps fight infections, ease congestion in the lymph nodes, and soothe colds and sore throats, while adding a bright, citrusy scent to your home and body products.
The ylang ylang tree, which grows in South Asia, is part of the custard apple tree family and has a distinct fragrance; it also has a reputation for stress relief and antidepressant properties (among others). You can use the oil in a diffuser or on a cloth to inhale the scent, or in steam therapy by adding it to boiling water.
More Great Links
- “13 Uses for Lavender Oil: The Only Essential Oil You’ll Ever Need.” MindBodyGreen.com. (July 29, 2013) http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7769/13-uses-for-lavender-oil-the-only-essential-oil-youll-need.html
- “Aromatherapy: Bergamot.” Discovery Fit & Health. (July 29, 2013) https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-bergamot.htm
- “Aromatherapy: Chamomile.” Discovery Fit & Health. (July 29, 2013) https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-chamomile.htm
- “How to Use Ylang Ylang Essential Oil to Calm Anxiety.” Yahoo Voices. (July 29, 2013) http://voices.yahoo.com/how-ylang-ylang-essential-oil-calm-anxiety-10425313.html
- "What Are Essential Oils?" AromaWeb. (August 1, 2013) http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/whatare.asp
- “Aromatherapy: Lemon.” Discovery Fit & Health. (July 29, 2013) https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-lemon.htm