Scents are incredibly powerful—an aroma, caught out of nowhere, can instantly trigger a powerful memory or emotion. Maybe you’ve had a massage in a room filled with an intoxicating scent—were you lured in by it? Soothed? Did it make you feel sleepy? Pampered? I bet the answer is yes, which is why I want to talk about the use of aromatherapy as a stress-reduction tool.
Aromatherapy is defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally-extracted aromatic essences from plants in order to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological, and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.
Using scents as a self-care habit allows us to play with our senses while experiencing calm. Just by applying essential oils or burning an incense cone or candle, we can begin the ritual of relief.
Essential oils (a natural oil that comes from the distilled fragrance of the plant or other source) can be diluted by water and used on the body or diffused into the air. Studies have shown that specific essential oils (like lavender and rose oil) can help relieve stress, relax the body, and promote better sleep.
Incense sticks or cones (as well as scented candles) can also influence your mood. When you’re looking to relax after a hard or stressful day, light up some jasmine, chamomile, lemongrass, lavender, or sandalwood and pine. If you don’t like to deal with oils, this is a great alternative.
When I’m stressed out, I turn to rose or lavender (I jokingly refer to lavender as my best friend). I place a drop or two of the essential oil on my pillow, and I dab a small amount of it around my nose. And when I want to gain a little energy, I use peppermint.
Next time you find yourself stressed out, dab your choice of essential oil on your neck or wrists and breathe deeply.
A great nighttime decompressing practice: Dilute a few drops of an oil into your bath water. This is the ultimate relaxation for the end of your day!
A few notes about using essential oils:
While you can absolutely use some oils on your skin, make sure the kind of oil you’re using isn’t too irritating to the skin. If you tend to have sensitive skin, dilute them with water. Most oils can be diluted into water (one to four drops) or mixed with a carrier base (like coconut oil).
Many essential oils can also be combined for a custom blend, so don’t be afraid to mix them to your liking. Once you’ve identified which scents resonate with you, you might want to also invest in a diffuser for your home. Happy aromatherapy!