Guest Author - Grace Ashton
Every one of us experiences stress. Everyone's life involves challenges and surprises, large and small, which will trigger the familiar 'fight or flight' response. Some stress is beneficial, and life would be dull without it, but as we all know, too much stress can be harmful.
Whether our stress is short or long-term, we need to ensure it does not detract from our overall wellbeing. There are several ways to counteract the effects of stress, and one of these is aromatherapy.
The healing properties of aromatic essential oils have been known for centuries, and since interest in natural healing methods has increased, aromatherapy has become one of the most popular of the complementary therapies.
Very many people associate the scent of lavender with relaxation and stress relief, but it is one of several essential oils that can be used, singly or in combination, to treat stress.
Lavender is one of the best known herbs and its beautiful aroma promotes restful sleep and calms the mind.
Chamomile has a sedative effect.
Valerian relieves anxiety and improves quality of sleep.
Bergamot has a fresh aroma. It calms the nervous system and acts as a mild anti-depressant.
Clary Sage is mildly sedative and anti-depressant.
Marjoram clears confusion, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system. The warm aroma mixes well with lavender.
Frankincense is a popular incense fragrance; the essential oil has a sedative effect.
Melissa has a lemon scent; it calms the nervous system and helps to lower blood pressure.
Neroli has a fresh citrus aroma and acts as an anti-depressant.
Rose is beautifully scented oil that boosts confidence and self-esteem, and relieves anxiety.
Jasmine is strong and sweet smelling and is said to calm the body, mind and spirit, and to encourage positivity.
Having discovered which single oil or combination of oils you prefer, there are several ways to enjoy their aromas and stress relieving properties.
Add 10 drops in total of your preferred oils to a warm bath. A combination of lavender and marjoram creates deliciously scented bath oil.
Using an oil burner or vaporiser is an excellent way to enjoy the effects of aromatherapy. Add 2 or 3 drops of oil to water in the burner and allow the soothing fragrance to diffuse throughout the room. Be sure to add more water to the burner as it evaporates.
Receiving a professional aromatherapy massage is an extremely beneficial treatment for stress. The combined effect of essential oils with the expert touch of the massage therapist promotes deep relaxation.
A simple self-massage is a wonderful way to soothe away the stresses of a long day. Add 2 or 3 drops of essential oil to 1 teaspoon (5ml) of carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, and massage into the hands and feet.
When using essential oils for aromatherapy it is important to observe some safety measures.
„« Essential oils are highly concentrated. Never place undiluted essential oil onto the skin, always dilute with carrier oil such as sweet almond oil.
„« Keep even the diluted oil away from sensitive areas of the body, especially the eyes. If any oil gets into the eyes flush them immediately with water and seek medical attention.
„« Never take essential oils internally. Some oils have internal applications, but these should only be recommended by a qualified practitioner.
„« Do not use bergamot oil before going out in the sun or using a sunbed as this could be damaging to the skin.
„« Keep all essential oils out of children's reach. If a child gets oil onto the skin or takes it internally seek immediate medical attention.
„« If using an aromatherapy treatment on a child, use no more than 2 drops of essential oil to 2 teaspoons (10ml) of carrier oil.
„« If you are pregnant, have a skin condition, are taking medication or receiving ongoing medical treatment for any condition, do not use essential oils before first consulting a qualified practitioner.
Stress will always be with us, but relieving stress with aromatherapy is a most effective and enjoyable natural treatment that will promote great relaxation and enhance wellbeing.