How to Relieve Stress Using Essential Oils
When we face adverse or demanding circumstances, we feel stress; a state of mental or emotional strain or tension. Major causes of stress include finance, work, family, health, relationships and life balance. Symptoms of stress may include heart palpitations, dry mouth, shortness of breath, indigestion, insomnia, fatigue and a sense of fear or paranoia. For our overall health and well-being, we need to control stress, because it makes us vulnerable to illness and disease.
Perhaps one of nature’s best antidotes to stress is essential oils. Extracted from the roots, leaves, seeds, bark and blossoms of plants, these natural, volatile, concentrated compounds carry the distinct essence of a plant and are known as “liquid sun energy” in ayurvedic medicine.
Aromatherapy is the art and science of therapeutically using essential oils to trigger a positive emotional and physical response and alleviate a variety of ailments. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that can be used in conjunction with traditional allopathic medicine.
Using a diffuser or room freshener, essential oils can be diffused into the air. They can also be steam inhaled. A more convenient and portable option is to put a few drops of the desired essential oil on a cotton ball and carry it in a ziplock bag. Whenever stress is experienced, open the bag and take two or three breaths. Also effective is topical application through therapeutic aromatherapy massage, aromatherapy bath or sitz bath. The many pressure points in the feet that correspond to our body systems make foot massage an extremely effective option, as well.
Several tips ensure the safe and effective use of essential oils. First, consult a certified, experienced aromatherapist. When choosing an essential oil, check for the botanical name (for example, Lavandula angustifolia for lavender, Melaleuca alternifolia for tea tree) and be sure it is a pure, unadulterated product. Preparing for safe topical application requires proper dilution and a skin patch test. Oils should be stored away from extreme cold, heat, light and dampness. Eye contact should be avoided and special precautions should be taken when applying essential oils to babies and children under 12 and during pregnancy.
Although we cannot always change the factors that cause stress, it is important to learn how to respond to such stimuli. We can reduce stress by maintaining realistic expectations of others and ourselves, asking for help and delegating duties. During times of stress, we can tap into the healing power of essential oils, remembering that Mother Nature knows what is best.
Uma Bagadia, a certified clinical aromatherapist, is the founder of Aroma Wellness, in Brookfield. She holds an MBA from University of WisconsinMilwaukee, a Master of Science degree in genetics from India and more than 23 years of healthcare experience, including her role as a medical technologist for major hospital systems in Wisconsin.