A new year has begun, the whirlwind of holiday parties and visiting are over, and everyone is pretty much back to their usual work and personal routines. But you may still be carrying some post-holiday stress and frazzle around with you that may affect your energy levels in kicking off the new year and those new resolutions. As a Certified Empowerment Coach, I’ve looked into a lot of different ways that can bring some peace into my clients’ lives. Here’s one you may not have thought of…
Aromatherapy: An Amazing Remedy for Stress
First, let me give you a little background on what aromatherapy actually is. Although it’s the practice of inhaling certain scents, aromatherapy is much more than just smelling enjoyable fragrance. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries for specific ritual ceremonies. It uses extracts, or oils, of certain plants, flowers and trees that really possess some quite amazing health properties.
Most of them are, at once, antiseptic, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, analgesic, and sedative in nature. They have been used in the form of heated oil that releases their scent into the air, or through burning as incense, or through anointing the body. You might be surprised to know that physicians used aromatherapy as a bactericide fumigant and saved Athens from the plague by openly burning plants in the city.
Today, many churches and religions still use essential oil scents – notably frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, etc – during certain holiday ceremonies (Easter, Christmas) because of their ability to induce a sense of peace, calm, assist in meditative practices, as well as to stimulate, and elevate the “higher” mind.
Aromatherapy works by inhaling the substance which then enters your blood stream. Specific scents are thought to transmit messages to the part of the brain that controls emotions, helping to decrease stress, induce deep breathing, which results in relaxation and calm. Essential oils relieve cold symptoms, stimulate easier breathing, heal wounds, decrease toothache pain (like oil of clove), relax muscles and relieve aching joint pain.
A Few Essential Oils for Peace and Relaxation
Although there are many essential oils that can help you feel more at peace and relaxed, the following 7 are some aromatherapy practitioner favorites. Essential oils can be used as either inhaled scents, or topical body “rubs” as massage oil:
1. Frankincense. A beautiful woody, earthy, fruity scent used by many spiritual/meditative practices to calm and open the higher mind, release stress and find peace. It also is used to relieve the congestion and cough of colds.
2. Basil. When used as a “rub” in a massage, helps relieve aches and pains, unkink muscle tension. When used as an inhaled scent, is thought to relieve depression and anxiety. It also helps reduce cold symptoms as well as prevent them with its antiseptic properties – disabling the virus inside the nasal passages.
3. Cedarwood. Nothing beats the smell of cedar. It helps you to relax, eliminate worry and anxiety, and restore your stamina.
4. Lavender. Ever notice how the smell of lavender growing in the spring/summer makes you feel happy? Lavender scent is thought to possess anti-anxiety as well as anti-depressive properties. Putting a little lavender scent in your bedroom helps you fall asleep as it relieves muscle and mental tension.
5. Nutmeg. If you baked any pumpkin pies over the holidays, you know how great nutmeg smells, and may have noticed that you felt calmer, happier and energized as you were baking. Adding a little nutmeg to an aromatherapy infuser can bring back that warm, relaxed feeling. In massage oil, it can help relieve the pain of arthritis and rheumatism and stimulate poor circulation.
6. Sandalwood. Also used in spiritual/meditative practices to induce calm and find inner peace. Helps de-stress and become re-grounded. Careful though, it’s also known to work as an aphrodisiac.
7. Ylang-ylang. Good for defusing anger, and dispelling stress and anxiety. Those practitioners who work in Chakra balancing claim that ylang-ylang helps balance both the sacral and solar plexus chakras. It too is thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Aromatherapy using essential oils can help you decompress from stress, relieve muscular tension, aches and pains, help you meditate and achieve both mental and physical relaxation. You can buy essential oils and scent diffusers in health food/vitamin outlets or at specialty stores and online. Many massage therapists also keep a stock of relaxing-type essential oils. You might want to look into all the wonderful scents that are available through aromatherapy. Try a few and see how they make you feel!
Dale Brown, B.S., M.A., C.E.C.Certified Empowerment Coach
Life After Caregiving, http://lifeaftercaregiving.com/health/%EF%BB%BFhow-to-use-aromatherapy
Aromatherapy Recipes to Enhance Happiness, http://www.aromaweb.com/recipes/happiness.asp