Essential Oils for Essential Stress Relief


The Impacts of a “Hustle and Bustle” Lifestyle

In modern day times we pride ourselves on being busy and always on the run.  We undervalue our need to just sit quietly and reflect and recuperate, seeing productivity as the ultimate badge of honour. However, this comes at a cost. Our bodies are in a perpetual state of low-grade stress, throwing important hormones like cortisol out of balance. Hormonal imbalances disrupt our immune systems, our sleep quality, our productivity and our quality of life as a whole.

Develop Relaxing Rituals

It is important and wonderful to incorporate routines and rituals in our daily lives. The use of relaxing essential oils gives us permission to stop and reflect and also assist us in a transition from frantic to calm. Essential oils can actually have a profound affect our moods. These volatile substances, when inhaled, make their way to our brain centres, specifically our primal limbic system, which is responsible for our emotional memories (among other things). The limbic system can trigger changes in our autonomic nervous system, affecting our hormone levels throughout the body. Oh, the power of a sniff!

Try These Relaxing Essential Oils to De-Stress

Ylang ylang is typically used as a relaxing agent. It has been supported by one study on humans, showing that it creates a sense of calm in the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight or flight” response). The scent can also lower the heart rate and blood pressure (1).  Traditionally, ylang ylang has also been considered an aphrodisiac. Nobody is in the mood when they are stressed!

Lavender has long been cherished as a “floral lullaby” of sorts. A 2015, 8-week study demonstrated improved sleep quality in postpartum mothers using lavender. Lavender is one of the safest essential oils and the only one that can be applied to the skin without dilution.(2) A similar relaxing response was demonstrated in a randomized clinical trial on women during childbirth with the use of Geranium essential oil.(3)

Neroli essential oil, a citrus variety derived from the blossom of orange trees, is yet another option to help you unwind and relax. A randomized controlled trial on postmenopausal women demonstrated that Neroli “improved their quality of life related to menopausal symptoms, increased sexual desire, and reduced blood pressure. (4) Other citrus oils known to have relaxing qualities include Orange, Bergamot and Lemon. (5-7)

Don’t forget about Chamomile, an herb traditionally used to calm babies when they are teething, or children with stress-related tummy aches.  This herbal tradition has been carried over to essential oils where it can be diffused in the air or diluted and rubbed onto the body.

Using Essential Oils

There are endless ways to use your essential oils, there is something for everyone! If you like to take a relaxing bath then dilute 10 drops of your desired essential oil into a tablespoon of any carrier oil (this is to avoid skin irritation), and then add this mixture to your bath. Magnesium salts are a lovely addition to this spa-like treatment. You can also add 10-20 drops to a diffuser and place it by your bed side.  The NOW® blend “Cheer up Buttercup” which contains a citrus combination of Bergamot Oil, Orange Oil, Lime Oil, Grapefruit Oil and Lemon Oil will soothe away the day. You can also make a nice room mist using a NOW spritzer bottle. The vegetable glycerine is added to help the essential oil mix with water.

Here is a recipe to try at home:

Lavender Room Mist

  • 1/2 teaspoon Rose Hip Seed Oil
  • 2 ounces distilled water
  • 22 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 1 teaspoon NOW® Vegetable Glycerin (this helps increase the solubility of essential oils in water)

Instructions: Combine Rose Hip essential oil with the other oils (Lavender is suggested), then add water. Shake well and lightly mist.

Safety Considerations

While essential oils have been used safely for centuries, we must use common sense. Be mindful around young children and pets who cannot remove themselves from an enclosed environment where you are diffusing. Never apply essential oils to your skin undiluted (except Lavender). A very safe dilution is 1% which is 6 drops of an essential oil to 30 ml of carrier oil. Always follow the directions on your bottles and/or personal diffusers.

 

References:

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About the Author: Thalia Charney

“Thalia

Thalia Charney is a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, public speaker and author of, The Confident Food Shopper: The Guide to Food Labels and Fables. As the Nutrition and Health Education Manager at Puresource (NOW® Health Group Canada), she teaches how natural health products can support optimal health and wellness. For more info visit theclassroomdoc.com.