You know times are quite interesting when March is literally 97 days long! I don’t know about you but I’m glad it’s behind us. We’ve got lots more hurdles to jump over, but March was a big one. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for kicking ass!
Now for the reason you clicked on this post, aromatherapy, or as I like to call it: “smell goods to make you feel good.” We live in trying times at the moment for what are probably obvious reasons and ensuring that we’re doing our best to keep our spirits lifted and feelings bright is SO important.
So what is aromatherapy, really? According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants such as flowers, herbs, or trees as a complementary health approach. The essential oils are most often used by inhaling them or by applying a diluted form to the skin–aka, smelling them or wearing them. The most popular essential oils include chamomile, lavender, peppermint, tea tree, lemon, and ginger.
When inhaled, the molecules from the essential oils travel to the brain and impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, hence the feel good part. Now, before you say “yeah right” hear me out. There’s a reason why I’m telling you this–because it works! And I’m a reliable eye witness, at least for some things.
What does aromatherapy actually work for?
It works for lots of things! But, for those I can attest to, read on. Of course, everyone is different, so what works for me might not work exactly the same way for you, but there’s no harm in giving it a go!
[Note that you should consult with your doctor if you’re thinking about applying these oils topically, or directly to your skin, and are unsure of how they’ll affect you. They are very potent in pure form and can cause irritation of the skin. Many sources recommend using a carrier oil, such as coconut oil to dilute the essential oils. Also note that essential oils, while they are amazing, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).]
For when you need some R&R
What essential oil I use: Lavender oil
How I use it: I usually smell it right out of the bottle or I rub a little on my inner wrists before bed. I also like to drop a few drops in the shower and let the steam pick up the scent.
What it actually does: I tend to get terrible anxiety and it often disrupts my sleep. Lavender oil works WONDERS for calming my mind and body in times of high anxiety and sleeplessness. I often get the best sleep when I’ve had a whiff of lavender oil before bed.
For when you’ve got wounds and bites
What essential oil I use: Tea tree oil
How I use it: I mainly use it topically, meaning I put a few drops on my finger tips and rub on the affected wound or bug bite. I also do not mind the potent, earthy smell of it.
What it actually does: Tea tree oil is excellent for wounds and bites because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. I also find that the scent of tea tree oil invigorates and then soothes the senses, but this seems to be an unpopular opinion.
For when allergies won’t let you be great
What essential oil I use: Eucalyptus oil
How I use it: I either smell directly from the bottle for quick relief of a stuffy nose or I diffuse or add a few drops in the shower and let the steam rise. If things are particularly bad, I rub some on my chest or under my nose (although this is known to cause irritation in some people, so be careful). Eucalyptus is so good at clearing congestion.
What it actually does: You may know eucalyptus oil from Vicks vapor rub, the stuff your mom probably lathered you with when you were sick in your younger days. Eucalyptus oil can also be used for many other purposes, including healing, pain relief, and oral care.
For when you’ve got a headache
What essential oil I use: Peppermint oil
How I use it: Rubbing this stuff on your temples can bring almost instant relief of a headache. I find it really takes the edge off. I last used it when I had a killer headache on a long flight to Italy. My mom, who suffers from chronic migraines, uses peppermint oil instead of taking Excedrin® all the time. You do need to reapply every so often.
What it actually does: It contains menthol, which helps to ease muscle tension and pain. It is also useful for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For when you need a pick me up
What essential oil I use: Lemon or citrus oil
How I use it: Putting a few drops in an oil diffuser and leaving it to fill the room usually does the trick. Smelling citrus usually brings me so much mental clarity and freshness. It also just smells amazing.
What it actually does: Lemon or citrus oils are natural mood and energy boosters. They are also found in many household cleaning products and add a bit of freshness to any room.
Are there other ways to enjoy aromatherapy?
Yes. Actually, my favorite is candles! There are so many different kinds of candles that use essential oils and smell oh so good. Lighting a candle after a long day is relaxing and sets the tone for a moment to wind down. Some candles contain more than one essential oil, which is great because studies have shown that mixing two different oils together, such as lemon and lavender, is beneficial because the lemon essential oil lightens the mood and lavender helps to relax the mind and body.
If you want a room to smell good all the time, reed diffusers are also great! I put them in my bathroom and love to get a whiff of eucalyptus each time I go in there. Speaking of diffusers, you can also enjoy essential oils by diffusing them via machines that produce mist.
Yes. A pro tip is to ensure that when you purchase essential oils that they are 100% pure and not just fragrance oils that might be mixed with chemicals (as opposed to natural, carrier oils). Most of the time, you’ll find the oils in small, dark colored glass bottles (not plastic!). It’s also a good idea to get a look at the company which produced the oil to ensure they are using best practices.
So, where should you buy essential oils or other aromatherapy-related supplies? I pretty much get everything from either Amazon (because, duh) and T.J. Maxx/Home Goods (because, good quality at a cheaper price). If the oils are too much or too messy for you, there are also wearables, such as essential oil necklaces or bracelets.
Do let me know if you’re going to try these out! Trust me when I say that aromatherapy has helped me so much with anxiety and stress and just lifting my overall mood!