Stressed. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Do any of these words describe how you feel right now? And if not right at this moment, I’m sure we’ve all experienced these feelings before. Whether we’re in a relationship, advancing our career, raising children, caring for aging parents,or myriad of other activities in between, we are BUSY. We try to do it all. And, without fail, this leads to stress and anxious feelings.
Now, don’t get me wrong…a certain amount of stress can be beneficial in limited quantities. It compels us to improve ourselves and reevaluate our method of accomplishing things. So, while studying and taking courses to achieve a degree can be stressful, this hard work furthers our knowledge to hopefully enhance our careers, and, in turn, put some money in the bank while hopefully fulfilling our need to succeed and achieve. And all my Smart Mamas out there know that raising children tops the list of stressful activities, but it is so very rewarding. And raising the next generation of responsible citizens tops any task out there and fills our lives with laughter and joy.
But we’re talking about too much stress, which can have some detrimental effects on our health and well-being. Stress causes hormones to be released, signaling to the body that we are in immediate danger. It kick-starts a fight-or-flight response and boosts blood flow to our extremities so we can take care of business. While short-term stress can offer a helpful boost of energy to get the job done, long-term stress causes an overload of stress hormones on our system. This can lower our immunities, lead to anxiety and panic attacks, contribute to sleep problems, cause digestive issues, increase our risk of heart disease, and much more.The body is simply not equipped to deal with prolonged periods of stress, so helping yourself to find the calm may be the missing piece to your health and wellness puzzle. Even something as simple as taking deep, cleansing breaths from the diaphragm several times a day can help the body to recognize it is no longer in danger.
While there are a variety lifestyle changes we can take to mitigate stress, aromatherapy is one method that hasn’t been given much attention until fairly recently. And let me tell you, it is a POWERFUL and NATURAL way to help the body find the calm that it may be missing. Our sense of smell has profound effects on our limbic system, which controls our body’s stress response, as well as evokes memories, which may bring us to a happy place. Imagine walking into a room and smelling your favorite cookies in the oven…where does that smell transport you? Does it put a smile on your face? Do you take a deep breath and relax? It is an instantaneous response!
When we smell something pleasant (or unpleasant for that matter) our brain reacts almost instantly, potentially altering things such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, memories, hormones and mood. Diffusing essential oils is a great way to take advantage of our strong connection between our olfactory sense and our limbic system. Utilizing high-quality essential oils during the day can help you to find that calm in the storm with a simple whiff or by diffusing it in a room.
So, let’s talk about my Top 7 Essential Oils to help take you from stress to Zen:
It is no surprise that Lavender is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils around, popping up in personal care products and fragrances all around the world. What you need to realize, however, is that most of these products do not contain the pure, high-quality essential oils necessary for a powerful limbic response. Only pure, high-quality Lavender offers the esters that trigger the calming and sedating effects of the oils. It is a great first choice for soothing skin irritations, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, calming the nervous system, and easing headaches and insomnia. It combines well with most other essential oils, so try adding a few drops to a diffuser and feel your body and mind relax as you breathe in the soothing floral aroma. Lavender can also be added to massage oils or body lotions to help ease muscle tension caused by stress. Or simply add a drop to your favorite scarf or diffuser jewelry to surround yourself in a calming aroma all day!
A unique citrus oil, Bergamot is unique in that it has both calming and soothing aroma, but is also able to leave you invigorated as well. In addition to calming the mind when diffused or inhaled, Bergamot can also soothe skin issues as well as the digestive system. I recommend diffusing Bergamot rather than applying, however, due to its phototoxicity. Other great options include sprays and Epsom salt baths when you’re feeling anxious and depressed, and it can be added to an aromatic inhaler for a quick boost to soothe agitation. It also combines well with other calming essential oils like Lavender and YlangYlang.
Most of us think of tea when we hear “chamomile,” which evokes a calming sensation in our bodies. Roman Chamomile essential oil is the amped up version of the calming tea, with powerful skin-soothing benefits and its ability to help the body find calm for a restful sleep. For most skin irritations, Roman Chamomile can provide calming relief with a gentle touch. It is safe for even the tiniest of humans past three months of age, and has been used in conjunction with Lavender to help those babies find calm. Try adding a drop of Roman Chamomile to your skin treatments, or combine a couple of drops with Lavender in a diffuser or in a rollerball bottle to help you relax and drift off to sleep after a stressful day.
YlangYlang is both calming and uplifting, great for days when you feel stressed or need a little cheering up. It is often touted as an aphrodisiac, but also has skin-balancing effects and has a very profound calming effect on the nervous system, especially if you use it as soon as you start to feel stressed or anxious. This floral-scented oil is great for creating a relaxing atmosphere when diffused and can be a soothing addition to massage blends.
Don’t be a victim of your environment. Heal your body from the inside out and the outside in with essential oils!
Clary Sage is a girl’s best friend during times of monthly stress. A sweet, herbaceous oil, it can be found in many blends for women or simply massaged right into the abdomen to help you find that calm during your monthly storm. It also does great things for women’s hormones, and wecall all use a little extra balance during the month. Try Clary Sage in a massage blend to help ease muscle tension when you’re feeling stressed or dilute a few drops in a roller bottle and dab some on your pulse points when the pressure is on.
An ancient oil of Biblical fame, Frankincense offers a spicy, woody aroma with amazing calming effects. It addition to helping your body to relax and find Zen, it also supports the immune system and enhances circulation. Add a few drops to a diffuser or massage a couple drops into the bottoms of your feet to help balance your mood. You can also add Frankincense to your moisturizer to help balance your skin.
Petitgrain is a floral and herbaceous oil with a citrus kick that provides a calming atmosphere when diffused and makes a relaxing massage oil when combined with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. Like Frankincense, it offers amazing support for struggling skin. Its gentle sedative properties can be helpful when you feel panic or anger, and also help you find the calm for a restful sleep. For a deeper relaxation, try combining it with other relaxing oils such as Lavender and Bergamot.
dōTERRA has created two amazing blends can be used separately or together to provide calming and relaxing benefits. Serenity® Restful Blend is a synergistic blend that combines Lavender, YlangYlang, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Hawaiian Sandalwood, and Vanilla Bean Absolute. When used aromatically or topically it can promote feelings of relaxation and a restful night’s sleep. It is one of my all-time favorite blends and I wear it just like perfume, dabbed on my pulse points for a relaxing calm throughout the day. Balance® Grounding Blend is a synergistic blend with a warm, woody scent. The combination of Spruce, Ho Wood, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile and Frankincense essential oils creates a sense of calm and well-being. Pulse point this blend too, or diffuse it for a sustained balance throughout the day. While most people tend to prefer one of these to the other, they can be layered together for an amazing powerhouse of essential oil calm.
In addition to good nutrition, regular exercise, deep breathing, and good sleep habits, using high-quality essential oils can help you to fight stress battles and help you to stay calm and grounded. Inhaling or diffusing essential oils is the quickest way to relieve tension when you’re feeling stressed or frazzled, as they instantaneously enter the brain and trigger the calm that our bodies crave. So, which oil is right for you? That depends on your body! Follow your nose to the most pleasing scents, and try out combinations of the oils above to create your own Stress-Busting blend. Here’s to a more Zen-like you!