Natural Stress Management | How Aromatherapy Can Help You Beat Stress

Aromatherapy as we know it today was accidentally discovered in 1910 by a French chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. After burning his hand during an experiment in a perfume factory, he plunged it into a vat of Lavender essential oil, and was amazed at how quickly and well his hand later healed. Thus modern aromatherapy was born. The use of aromatic plants in healing and medicine can be traced back to thousands of years BC however, and evidence of the use of essential oils has even been found in Egyptian tombs and hieroglyphics.

The practice of aromatherapy harnesses the healing properties of aromatic plants and trees in the form of essential oils which are extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, bark and roots. The extracted oils are highly concentrated, but when diluted they are suitable for use in baths, oil burners, massage oils, creams, lotions and sprays.

Aromatherapy is an extremely effective treatment for stress, as there are a number of oils which have sedating, relaxing and uplifting properties. The connection between smell and emotion is very strong, and breathing in pleasant smells triggers positive reactions in the brain which creates a sense of well being. This therapeutic effect works in addition to the healing properties of the oils.

Essential oils should not be taken internally but should be absorbed into the body either through inhalation or through the skin. There are a number of oils available which are used to treat stress and its symptoms, and there is a wide variety of ways in which oils can be used.

Probably the most relaxing method to experience aromatherapy is in the form of a massage by a qualified aromatherapist, however there are plenty of benefits to be had by practicing aromatherapy at home. Good quality essential oils can be purchased from reputable suppliers such as drugstores, natural health stores and specialist web sites. Do not buy cheap low quality oils as these are usually synthetically produced, and whilst they may smell the same, they contain none of the therapeutic benefits of the plant.

Oils such as Bergamot, Neroli, Frankincense, Geranium, Ylang-Ylang and Sandalwood are very safe, and will induce relaxation and lift your mood. Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Jasmine, Marjoram and Clary Sage have the same effect, but these oils should not be used if you are pregnant. You should avoid using any essential oils in the first trimester of pregnancy without taking advice from a doctor or a qualified aromatherapist.

You can use essential oils on their own or blended with one or two other oils for maximum effect. If you are using them on the skin they should always be diluted in a carrier oil such as Sunflower or Sweet Almond. Ways that you can use essential oils at home include:

Baths. Fill the bathtub with warm (not hot) water, then dilute 4 – 6 drops of essential oil in a little vegetable oil or milk, and add to the water. Close the door so that the vapours don’t escape, and soak for at least ten minutes.

Oil Burner. Add 2tbsp warm water to the oil burner and then add 3 – 6 drops of essential oil. Light the candle underneath, and the heat will disperse the oils into the air.

Lamp Ring. Place a couple of drops of essential oil onto a lamp ring, and place the ring on a light bulb. The heat from the light bulb will cause the oils to disperse into the air.

Room Sprays. Use a new plant sprayer, and add warm but not boiling water. Add the essential oil (4 drops per ½ pint water) and shake before use. Spray into the air, but avoid spraying onto surfaces and fabric which are likely to stain.

Massage. For massage, the essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil such as Sunflower, Sweet Almond or Grapeseed. You will probably need around 7-10 teaspoons of carrier oil for a full body massage, so add 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. Mix well and apply to the skin with long sweeping strokes, always massaging towards the heart.

Using aromatherapy oils at home should not be taken lightly. The essential oils mentioned here are very safe, but some oils can present hazards if not properly used. If you are in any doubt, always consult a qualified aromatherapist.

You should bear in mind the following guidelines before using essential oils:

Never use undiluted oils directly on the skin

Always seek professional advice from a medical practitioner or qualified aromatherapist if you have sensitive skin, are prone to allergic reactions, are pregnant or breast feeding, have a medical condition or are taking anticoagulant drugs.

Seek advice from a qualified aromatherapist before using oils on children.

Avoid alcohol when using essential oils.

Avoid exposure to the sun if you have used essential oils on the skin.

Always keep essential oils out of the reach of children.

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