Remember aromatherapy? Remember stocking up on essential oils and burning them in diffusers?
Well, the practice is back, thanks to a return to plant-based and natural wellness techniques. It’s just that those clunky diffusers you might remember using have been replaced by sleek, Scandi-minimalist numbers that wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Architectural Digest.
One of the best uses for aromatherapy is in the arena of stress relief. That’s because scent is known to help people relax and unwind. But which scents should you look out for? And what do they do? Let's discuss.
On the subject of anything to do with stress, especially and including sleep loss, it’s all about lavender. The hard-working flower has a clearly identifiable scent that has been proven to lower cortisol levels and soothe the mind before sleep.
Try dabbing some lavender oil onto a cotton ball and slip it into your pillow before you sleep, or get a lavender oil spray that you can mist before bed.
Like lavender, studies have proven that rosemary lowers cortisol and helps you unwind. The best way to use rosemary is to take a big, dried-out bunch and tie it to your shower head. Anytime you have a steamy shower, the aromas will infuse with the steam and calm you from inside and out. Just like a fancy spa!
Rose is a catchall oil that can help with any problem under the sun, but it works particularly well on stress and anxieties. Because it is highly emollient, it’s also the kind of oil you can use on your skin. (It’s particularly good if you have any scars, as it has healing properties.) Try dabbing some rose oil on your pulse points to keep the oil’s scent with you as you go about your day.
If you’re an earl grey drinker, you’ll recognise the smell of bergamot immediately, as this citrus’ oil is used in that particular tea blend. With a luxurious, pungent fragrance, the oil is particularly good at relieving tension and anxiety. Because it has such a potent scent, bergamot is perfect to keep on you in a little vial for whenever you need to have a whiff. Just uncap the oil and breathe in and out slowly. The ritual should help soothe any tension that you might have.
Zingy and fresh, peppermint is exactly the kind of essential oil you need in your arsenal when it feels like all your stressors might be becoming too overwhelming to handle. The scent of peppermint is like a fragrant pep-talk, waking you up and helping you to process everything on your to-do list. Again, as your need might be situational, why not keep some on hand to put in a diffuser whenever you need to chill out.
This floral oil is often used in perfume but it’s actually way more useful than being merely decorative: studies have shown that Ylang Ylang can reduce blood pressure and anxieties. Because of this, we putting a few drops onto a scarf, hair tie or something that you might wear, so that the scent can waft around and strengthen you throughout the day.
There is a traditional Japanese custom of submerging whole yuzu fruits into a hot bath to de-stress, which sounds, quite frankly, like heaven to us. You can achieve something similar without having to shell out for bucketloads of fruit by seeking out yuzu oil and adding it to your bath water.
Was the wise man who gifted Jesus with some frankincense giving him the gift of aromatherapy? The jury might be out on that one, but there’s no doubt that this heady, potent scent is a powerful stress and anxiety relief. The best way to use this one is through a diffuser so that you can control just how much oil you want to use.
You know that chamomile tea can help you sleep, but did you know that chamomile oil is just as calming? The essential oil is known for its soothing and healing properties, especially among those suffering from insomnia. Why not try using chamomile oil as part of a massage routine, especially if you’re feeling soreness and aches in a particular area? The oil’s scent will waft over you as it is worked into the skin, giving you a double hit of stress relief.
Derived from the skin of an orange, neroli has been studied widely as a way of decreasing stress and bringing down cortisol levels. It’s great in a bath and diffuser, but we like to sneak some into our pillow case, as neroli has also been proven to help ease you into the land of nod. Sweet dreams.
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If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.