If you constantly feel worried, anxious or unable to relax, using essential oils for stress relief could be a natural way to help you unwind.
The therapeutic properties of essential oils have been used for thousands of years as a traditional way to treat a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions.Ancient civilisations, including the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, all believed the bark, roots, peel and petals of fruit, plants and trees had magical healing properties. They used them widely as natural remedies to treat a host of symptoms, from burns and wounds to sickness and disease.
They also used them in rituals, for spiritual cleansing and growth.
In more recent times, the practice of aromatherapy has emerged, which involves harnessing the essential oils and other aroma compounds of plants and herbs to help improve physical and psychological wellbeing.
This is done either through massage or applying essential oils directly to the skin to help relax tired muscles and rejuvenate cells or by inhaling their fragrant essences to help enhance your mood and mental health.
As a complementary therapy to treat various conditions, using essential oils for stress relief can bring many benefits.
Here, we take a closer look at how they work and run down our favourite stress-busting essential oils for you to enjoy…
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?Essential oils are derived from the aromatic parts of certain flowers, herbs, fruit and trees. The essences that give these plants their distinctive, fragrant scents are extracted as essential oil.
Inhaling the aroma or applying the oil to the skin either by massage or bathing in water infused with it, is thought to activate chemical receptors in the nose and skin which send messages to your brain.
This, in turn, triggers the brain to respond by releasing ‘feel-good’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which create positive feelings and emotions and can also block out pain signals in various parts of your body.
If you’ve never used essential oils for stress release before, you should always read the label.
Some oils, in their purest form, are so concentrated that they can irritate and inflame the skin, so you should dilute them with a carrier oil before massage. Care should also be taken when inhaling to ensure they are properly diluted and not applied directly to your skin.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS USED FOR?
It’s important to remember that aromatherapy and essential oils are complementary therapies that shouldn’t be used in place of medical treatment suggested by a doctor or healthcare professional. However, research shows that aromatherapy offers an array of benefits, including:
- Easing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Helping you to relax
- Improving sleep and reducing fatigue
- Easing general aches and pains
- Fighting bacteria (when used on the skin)
- Easing feelings of nausea or sickness
- Enhancing mindfulness or meditation
WHAT ARE THE BEST ESSENTIAL OILS FOR STRESS RELIEF?There are many different essential oils available, which can be used for a wide range of purposes, including relaxation and concentration, or energising and uplifting your mind and body.
But, when it comes to stress relief, there are a few products which have the edge. Here are our favourites:
- Patchouli essential oil gives off a warm, spicy aroma to help create calm and peace.
- Its rich, musky fragrance has sensuous, aphrodisiac properties with earthy notes that balance the emotions.
- Patchouli oil is extracted by steam distillation from the dried, fermented leaves of the Pogostemon Cablin plant. Its fragrance and healing power improve with age and as well as helping you to relax, is said to aid scar healing and help regenerate damaged tissues.
- Bergamot essential oil has a sweet, fresh fragrance that is relaxing, uplifting and mood-enhancing.
- It’s great for building confidence and calming negative emotions, and can also be used to help promote clear, healthy skin.
- Bergamot oil is extracted from the fruit of the bergamot orange tree. Its name is derived from the city of Bergamo, in Italy, and its essence and flavour have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years.
- It is used to promote calm and confidence, relieve stress and tension and is said to help reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affected Disorder.
- Clary Sage essential oil has a fresh, sweet and warming aroma that helps you to relax and clear your mind for enhanced mental clarity.
- It is extracted by steam distillation from the flowering tops and the leaves of Salvia Sclarea.
- In the Middle Ages, clary sage was known as Oculus Christi – the ‘eye of Christ’ – and was a highly-esteemed medicine.
- Its most significant benefit is its calming influence on the nerves. It is particularly useful for female conditions and symptoms associated with menopause, as well as relieving tension, stress and general aches and pains.
- Lavender essential oil has a refreshing floral fragrance with relaxing and uplifting effects and a slightly fruity aroma to relax the mind and body.
- It is steam distilled from the lavender plant, a herb that is widely used in cooking and health and beauty. In ancient Greece and Rome, lavender and its essential oils were used as a medicine, to make healthy teas and perfumes, and for bathing and personal hygiene.
- For centuries, it has also been used to treat various ailments from minor cuts and bruises to chronic illness. In aromatherapy, it is often used to combat depression, stress and fatigue and can help to ease the symptoms associated with joint and muscle pains, and menstrual discomfort.
- Ylang Ylang essential oil has a fragrant, sweet and intoxicating aroma that lifts the spirit and relaxes mind and body.
- It has soothing, euphoric and aphrodisiac properties which inspire inner peace, joy and self-esteem.
- Ylang Ylang is a large tree native to far eastern countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Its essential oil is considered one of the best for relaxing the mind and the body.
- Inhaling the aroma can help reduce blood pressure, while massaging it can gently relieve stress and anxiety. Emotionally and spiritually, Ylang Ylang essential oil is also said to help you connect to your inner self to heal emotional trauma.
SOY WAX CANDLESTo complement the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy, soy wax candles can be a great way of enhancing the scents and fragrances of essential oils.
Soy wax candles are a better, all-natural alternative to traditional paraffin wax candles. They burn cleaner and release fewer toxins into the air. And because they melt at a much lower temperature than petroleum-based wax, they carry less risk of burns or scalds.
They are also more effective at carrying fragrance, so can be mixed with a wide range of essential oils to create unique and exotic aromas. These can be used to enhance your mood, help you relax and de-stress and improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
For stress relief, we’d recommend the sweet and herby Lavender & Geranium, the rich and floral Jasmine & Patchouli, or the sensual and mysterious Ylang Ylang & Amber.
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