It’s that time of year again, the holidays are here, and the hustle and bustle of christmas shopping, baking, cooking, and getting the house decorated has arrived. It’s a wonder we get as much done as we do considering that most of us also hold down full-time jobs, and other assorted activities as well. So, what can you do to help relieve the stress that tends to be generated during the holidays? One solution is to use aromatherapy to help you relax.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils which are oils that are derived from the stems, leaves, and flowers of plants, to enhance physical and psychological well being. The practice of using essential oils goes back to ancient times, perhaps even as far as ancient Egypt. Essential oils were used in Medieval Europe as well to protect a person from illness, and to disguise the fact that they didn’t bathe very often! Modern aromatherapy has many uses, and there are over a thousand doctors in France who use aromatherapy today in their practice.
That being said, how can you use aromatherapy to treat stress? First of all you need to identify which essential oils are best for treating stress related symptoms. There are four different essential oils which are thought to be the best for treating symptoms of stress, and they are: lavender, clary sage, chamomile, and lemon.
Lavender is a relaxant, and a calmer and soother. Just catching a few whiffs of lavender are a good way to calm down. A few ways you can benefit from using lavender essential oil are by putting a few drops in a spray bottle of water and then spraying it in your home when times are feeling stressful. The scent will help you to relax. You can also put a drop or two on a handkerchief to keep in your purse or backpack for those times when you are out and about. When you feel put upon, out of sorts, or just tired pull out your handkerchief and take a couple of deep whiffs, it helps! Try adding a drop or two to a warm bath, however, be aware if you have sensitive skin this one probably isn’t a good idea.
Clary Sage essential oil gives a feeling of being uplifted emotionally and is used in the treatment of mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, and tension associated with stress. This is one you will want to be careful with, and should not be used by pregnant women. In addition it is not recommended for those who have active tumors or breast cancer. Also should not be used when you are drinking alcohol as it can magnify the effects. You can use clary sage in a vaporizor instead of vicks to relax, and produce a feeling of euphoria. It can also be used in a blended massage oil that you can use to massage yourself or have someone else do so for the same purpose.
Chamomile like lavender is a relaxant, and is calming; it is thought to calm strong emotions such as anger. Chamomile has a very long history in herbal medicine and has been in use for hundreds of years. It is thought to be rejuvenating, relaxing, and is used as a creativity aid. One way to use this oil is to place a drop or two on your pillow to promote restful sleep, or you can put a few drops on a handkerchief and place it inside your pillow case near your head so you will be able to catch the scent. Chamomile is a uterine stimulant and should not be used by pregnant women.
Lemon essential oil has properties which cause a feeling of being uplifted, and happy. Its scent is fresh and pure and creates cheer. It also has the added benefit of creating mental clarity. In one office in Japan where they diffused lemon essential oil throughout their office building, the typing errors by their employees decreased by 54%! In order to benefit from lemon essential oils to reduce your stress, you can add a couple of drops to boiling water and the steam will carry it throughout the room, you can add a drop or two to a radiator scent ring, or lightbulb (be sure not to get it in the socket!) and the heat will diffuse the scent , and if you want to have more of this scent you can even add a drop or two to a terry cloth and throw it in the dryer with your clothes, the scent will then be on your clothing, and you’ll have the pleasant aroma throughout your day! Lemon essential oil should not be applied directly to your skin in its undiluted state because it can cause irritation. Also, lemon essential oil has photosensitizing agents in it, and because of this you should not apply lemon oil to your skin and then go out into sunlight as it can cause your skin to burn.
No essential oil should ever be taken internally unless you are under a doctor’s supervision and it is his direction to do so. Essential oils are powerful and concentrated and you should never apply them in their undiluted state directly to your skin. Also, while essential oils are natural and created from plants, you can still have an allergic reaction to them, so if you have any symptoms such as hives, itching, skin redness, or trouble breathing, make sure you stop using the product and see a doctor if symptoms don’t go away or get worse.
Essential oils are wonderful things, and used wisely they have the power to help us relax, and feel calm and less stressed during the holiday season. So, the next time the holiday rush is getting you down, take a whiff of one of these essential oils and start feeling better and enjoying the holiday season. After all that is what the holidays should be about!