More than 20 years ago, aromatherapy, which is the use of plant-based essential oils as complementary health aids was discovered. Tiny, expensive bottles of plant extracts, purporting to help disperse depression, give you stamina, lower stress levels and so on skyrocketed in popularity.
Seeing the profit potential, tons of companies flooded the market with low-grade oils masquerading as “cheap-but-good” alternatives. Needless to say, they had little effect and essential oils all but disappeared.
Over the years extraction methods have improved significantly, and today, the power of essential oils packs a more powerful punch than ever. Better yet, more research has gone into oils that help relieve stress, the 21st century’s number one killer.
The 5 oils listed below will help alleviate the symptoms of stress. Pick the one or the combination that works best for you.
The most popular scent of the lot, the scent of lavender oil makes you feel like you’re running through a springtime field in full bloom. It lifts your mood and in turn calms you down. Lavender is a versatile oil in that it can be used as an everyday stress reliever and sleep aid, and also as a calming agent for more drastic cases, like people in palliative care.
Now, this innocent little scent holds some surprises. Traditionally, lemon is recommended to perk you up and energize those dull, draggy mornings. But more and more, users (and producers) are finding that lemon oil can also calm you down.
The fresh, citrus scent smells clean, making you feel comfortable and safe, and in turn, relaxed. It doesn’t work the same way for everyone, so try out a small bottle first. If it doesn’t work for sleep, use it to brighten your mornings.
An ancient extract, the use of Roman chamomile can be traced back to the time of Hippocrates. When you’re stressed, one of the first places you feel it is in your tummy. We all know that sinking feeling, often followed by heartburn or worse, acid reflux. Roman chamomile aids the digestive system. A calm stomach means a calm and clear mind.
Roman chamomile also helps reduce inflammation, which is directly linked to both the cause and effect of stress.
Another citrus fruit, bergamot is famed for giving Earl Grey tea its distinctive aroma. It is a multi-purpose oil with anti-depressant properties. If your stress levels have stretched you beyond what you can endure, you may just fall into depression.
Though bergamot is no substitute for medical advice and treatment, it can help you get out of depression and into a healthier, less anxiety-ridden mode of living.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that bergamot reduces cortisol, which is the stress hormone that goes into overdrive when you have chronic stress problems. Reducing cortisol reduces stress, and invites relaxed rest and sleep.
Often known as “the magic oil”, frankincense is a wonder oil with many uses. It has been highly treasured throughout history, and the Magi were said to have brought it as a gift for the infant Jesus.
Frankincense works with the limbic system, which controls your basic emotions, including fear and anger, two feelings inextricably tied up with stress. This wonderful oil also keeps your digestive system in good order and works as a painkiller. There are many, many more ways in which frankincense enhances wellbeing, which is partly why it is an expensive, but very effective oil.
Though each essential oil is effective in its own way, ultimately it comes down to what works for you. Make sure you only buy high-grade oils. Look for reviews of popular brands.
When you’re shopping, trust your instinct. Our bodies are intelligent organisms which know what they need, so if you find yourself drawn to a particular oil, pay attention. It may be addressing a need that you’re not even aware of.
Most importantly, enjoy your oils and rest in the knowledge that you are finally giving your body and mind the break it deserves.