BY TRACY HORN – Holistic & Clinical Aromatherapist from Absolute Aromas Ltd
It’s fair to say that we all live life at breakneck speed; we want it yesterday! Pressure can build up in all areas of private and occupational life, not to mention the internal pressure of living up to our own expectations!
Stress affects all of us alike, and although a natural reaction to danger, continuous stresses without relief or relaxation can lead to severe distress. Known to affect all aspects of life, distress can often result in short-term physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural symptoms. Whatever the trigger, when we experience lower moods, we incur many negative side effects such as poor sleep, an upset stomach, raised blood pressure, and a change in appetite. Other symptoms include low self-esteem, sudden mood swings, an inability to focus, and poor memory. In fact, distress can even aggravate or precede more serious long-term issues such as cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and skin conditions.
During a particularly stressful period of my life, I felt like no matter what, I just could not relax. I had a constant feeling of anxiety that resulted in rapid weight loss, a lack of sleep and a general feeling of ill health. I was willing to try anything to relieve the burden of stress, and despite being offered anti-depressant and anxiety medication, it was Aromatherapy that saved the day and allowed me to turn a corner!
The foremost characteristic of Aromatherapy is it’s a direct impact on the limbic system, the part of our brain containing the olfactory bulbs, amygdala, and hippocampus. These parts are associated with our sense of smell, emotions, and memory, respectively. As such, just one whiff of a scent can bring back fond memories, showering us in feel-good chemicals and increasing our emotional and physical wellbeing. Much like that piece of music that takes us to a significant time in our life, aromas can transport us to our emotional memory. One of my most memorable aromas is a perfume my mother used to wear, which when I smell it now, reminds me of her with fond memories that boost my mood.
What’s more, aromatherapy and its many benefits can easily be incorporated into the most hectic life styles so it really is the perfect tool to combat stress and depression. I’m not suggesting we ditch the medication altogether, as some traumas in life require medical support. However, a little aromatherapy in our lives goes a long way to lift our spirits and kick start the happy feelings!
Here are some of my favourite mood-enhancing oils and blends for you to experience along with 3 simple ways they can be used.
Quick Fix: Great when you’re on the run and short on time, just pop a few drops of your chosen oil on a tissue and breathe, let the power of the scent do the work.
Atmosphere: create a mood enhancing space by diffusing your chosen oil in an oil burner or electrical diffuser
Bath Soaks: with more time, enjoy a warm aromatic bath soak to soothe and calm. 6 drops of you chosen oil in a small cup of milk and swirl into the running water.
Nine Mood-Enhancing Oils
Bergamot – great for anxiety, nervousness and agitation
Frankincense – works wonders on an overactive mind, especially what I call the gramophone record where worrying thoughts just keep whirring around your head!
Ylang Ylang – my go-to oil when feeling panicky and overwhelmed with fear, ideal for exam or interview nerves! Great stress buster!
Benzion – a very comforting ‘hug in a bottle’, especially in times of grief. Blends beautifully with rose to mend relationship traumas.
Geranium – extremely balancing for mood swings, especially when linked to hormonal changes.
Grapefruit – the sunshine in a bottle! Marvellous for really lifting lower moods, especially in association with winter blues.
Roman Chamomile – soothing and calming in times of serve anxiety, enhances a good night’s sleep to help restore good sleeping patterns
Vetiver – nicknamed the ‘oil of tranquillity’, wonderfully grounding for those times when we struggle to let go of hyper moods and agitation.
Rose – the queen of oils for all emotional issues, deeply soothing post-trauma and shock.
Tracy Horn is a fully Qualified Holistic & Clinical Aromatherapist, from Absolute Aromas Ltd, a leading aromatherapy provider in the UK. Tracy has been practising, teaching, and advising on Aromatherapy & Holistic Health Therapies for over 15 years. Tracy began her journey into aromatherapy running a busy private practice in South London, later she became the International Training Manager for Absolute Aromas Ltd travelling, teaching and researching Signature Holistic Spa treatments in the Far East, America & Europe. For the past 7 years she has successfully managed 4 and 5 star Hotel Spas in mainland Spain, Mallorca and Cyprus.