Get Rid of Stress and Relax with Aromatherapy
If you're stressed, doing mindfulness, massage, and yoga may help you. Studies show that also aromatherapy can have a significant impact on your wellbeing.
Aromatherapy: Therapy through smell
Aromatherapy is therapy that uses odors from essential oils. The aroma is picked up by sensors in the nose that are directly connected to the brain's limbic system (which controls emotions and memories.) This means that the sense of smell is the sense that is most closely linked to our emotions and memories.
3 ways to use aromatherapy to de-stress
There are several ways to use essential oils. Here are the three best ways to lower your shoulders and get rid of stress.
Aroma diffuser combined with meditation or yoga
Mindfulness is one of the most effective methods to get rid of stress. Aromatherapy enhances this effect. Use an ultrasonic aroma diffuser with your favorite oil. Turn on the diffuser while meditating or practicing yoga. We recommend Headspace as a good mindfulness app.
Aroma massage is a treatment method with a long history. Aromatherapy massage is used for relaxation, pain relief and to increase well-being. Aromatherapy massage differs from classical massage by using essential oils in the massage oil. Massage oils are combined with essential oils, this can also be combined with an aroma diffuser to enhance the effect. Read our post with 6 useful tips for aroma massage here.
On skin and pulse points
Aromatherapy oils can be mixed with neutral oils and applied to pulse points on the wrist, neck and temple for immediate effect. As with massage, it is important not to use pure essential oils directly on the skin. You can dilute the oils in a 5 to 1 solution with water or carrier oil (read more about carrier oils here) to apply the oil in a safe way.
4 effective oils for relaxation and counteracting stress
There are several essential oils that have been tested and proven effective against stress. We have hand-picked four oils we like to use when we relax and unwind.
You can get a review of the 20 best essential oils in this blog post.
Lavender: The most well-known essential oil
Lavender oil is the most well-known essential oil, and is used to help us relax and sleep. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants were exposed to a stressful event before performing a memory task. Those who inhaled a lavender aroma before the experiment performed better than those who inhaled a placebo aroma.
In a study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, aromatherapy using a 3% lavender oil spray on clothing was found to be effective in reducing work-related stress.
All in all, lavender essential oil is a sure winner to soothe body and mind.
Bergamot: A citrus oil with soothing effects
The oil that gives Earl Gray its signature scent, bergamot essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy. The oil extracted from the peel of a citrus fruit known as citrus bergamia.
While research on the effects of bergamot essential oil is limited, studies show that the oil can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
A 2017 study published in Phytotherapy Research, found that upon exposure to bergamot oil, participants' positive emotions while waiting in the waiting room of a mental health center improved.
Bergamot essential oil can also reduce negative thoughts and fatigue. In a 2015 study, a lower cortisol level was found in the saliva of participants (a hormone often called the body's stress hormone.)
Lemongrass: Reduces anxiety
For natural relief of anxiety, many people use essential oil of lemongrass, an oil extracted from the lemongrass herb (Cymbopogon citratus). Inhaling the aroma from the oil (or by applying a little on the skin after combining the oil with a carrier oil) is believed to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Although there is limited research on the effectiveness of lemongrass essential oil, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015 showed that participants exposed to lemongrass oil had an immediate reduction in anxiety and tension and recovered faster after an anxiety-inducing situation compared to the which inhaled a control aroma or a placebo.
Neroli: A sweet but spicy alternative
Neroli is an essential oil with a sweet and spicy aroma. This oil is sometimes used for anxiety. It is claimed that inhaling the scent of this essential oil (which is made from the flowers of orange trees) promotes calm.
Research on the effect of essential oil of neroli is limited. In a study published in Hepato-Gastroenterology, participants inhaled either neroli oil or a control oil before undergoing a colonoscopy. Those who had inhaled neroli oil had lower blood pressure, but there was no change in reported anxiety or pain.
Do you have any questions about using essential oils to relax? Contact an aroma expert at firstname.lastname@example.org for tips, answers to questions or feedback :-)