Can Different Smells Help with Stress Relief?
Have you ever wondered why once it starts to get colder in the winter, we start feeling all warm inside when we smell holiday scents?
Be it the smell of baking cookies, hot chocolate, cinnamon, or blue spruce; most of us have a favorite scent! If you enjoy a fragrance or even crave that certain smell, your body usually desires or enjoys the constituents (chemical makeup) of those oils. Therefore, if there is a scent this time of year that makes you happy, my advice – use it. Aromatherapy is well known for its potential ability to lower stress. And in my experience, even those who don’t admit to or notice stress in their lives commonly report a greater sense of lightness and evenness to their moods after a little bit of a scent is wafted under their nose.
The roots of aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years before the birth of Christ, to a time when the use of aromatics was first recorded in human history. Remember Jesus received gifts of frankincense and myrrh? Those are good old-fashioned aromatherapy scents! In reality, the history of aromatherapy is inexorably linked to the development of aromatic medicine, which in the early days was itself combined with religion, mysticism, and magic.
During the holiday season, many of us could benefit from stress-reduction therapies. But who has the time? If you can swing going for acupuncture this time of year, fantastic! Regular acupuncture treatments are, in my opinion, the best way to stay healthy and mentally balanced during high-stress times. But if you, like many people, are on a tighter schedule and budget for the coming holiday season, I’ve got some simple suggestions that just might do the trick!
Pick one essential oil or essential oil blend that you smell delish! It doesn’t really matter what scent you pick, (if you are curious to benefits of certain oils I will add that below), the most important thing is that you love that smell! Here are a couple of simple ways to use your favorite holiday scent:
1. Breathe Easy!
Put a few drops in the palm of your hand. Rub your palms together. Then cover your hands over your nose and take three long slow breaths. Et voilà, you have given yourself an aromatherapy treatment! This is one of my favorites, especially if you are feeling particularly stressed out! You can do this as many times a day as you like.
2. Something in the air!
Do you have a small crockpot around the house? You can’t go wrong with the fresh smell of spices flowing throughout your home. One of my favorite winter scents combinations is cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel. Another one I love is peppermint and lavender. Fill the crockpot 3/4 of the way full with water. Turn your burner to low and let the spices simmer and slowly disperse throughout your home. You can buy spices and herbs in bulk at most health food stores.
3. Enjoy a scented bath!
Are your dogs barking from running around doing holiday shopping? Mix a few (say 10-20) drops of aromatherapy oils or those same herbs you put in the crockpot in a tub full of warm water. Soak in the bath for as long as you want to. Let go of all your troubles and just ENJOY!!!
The great thing about using aromatherapy is that you can put that little bottle of essential oil in your purse or pocket or take that bath as often as you like! It’s inexpensive and portable! You can put in the air when you are having that holiday party to help set the mood. So when you are about to scream to great aunt Agatha for saying something like “Are you really going to wear that?” or “Are you losing your hair, dear?” for the nine hundredth time. Remember that taking a good deep breath may actually make a difference!
Clove has traditionally been used due to its relaxing effect on the nerves. Its antiseptic properties make it a useful oil to diffuse during cold and flu season. It is stimulating and energizing. It blends well with basil, cinnamon, lavender, ginger, sandalwood, and clary sage.
Cinnamon is warm and stimulating. It is used as a comforting oil during the cold season. Strong antiseptic, cinnamon oil has a cleansing effect, as well as a lovely fragrance. It blends well with cloves, coriander, cardamom, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, and thyme.
Cypress essential oil is a soothing oil that eases aches, pains, and coughs. With its smoky woody fragrance, cypress refreshes, restores, and tones. Blends well with cypress bergamot, clary sage, lavender, juniper, pine, marjoram, sandalwood, rosemary, frankincense and all the citrus oils.
Eucalyptus is fresh and stimulating oil with a penetrating scent and strong antiseptic properties. It is widely used to relieve congestion and muscle aches. Blends well thyme, lavender, lemongrass, lemon, and pine.
Frankincense has been used for centuries and has a long tradition in spiritual ceremonies, the resin burnt on altars, and temples. Frankincense oil soothes, warms, and aids meditation by helping to create a spiritual atmosphere. By slowing down breathing and controlling tension, frankincense helps to focus the mind and relax the body. It blends well with sandalwood, lavender, myrrh, pine, orange, bergamot, and lemon.
Myrrh has been used since ancient times as sacred incense, a perfume, and as a therapeutic agent. It has a centering, visualizing, and meditative effect. Blends well with benzoin, frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, and clove.
Orange lifts the spirits and calms the nerves. Blends well with black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, frankincense, sandalwood, and vetiver.
Nutmeg is invigorating, enlivening, and uplifting oil. It’s said to help stimulate digestion and to be useful in cases of nausea and indigestion. Blends well with black pepper, cypress, geranium, clary sage, rosemary, and orange.
Peppermint is energizing! It helps to relieve both mental and physical fatigue. Blends particularly well with eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, lemon, and rosemary.
Pine stimulates, refreshes, and cleanses. It has a strong, fresh, resinous aroma and powerful antiseptic properties, making it a wonderful choice in relieving mental and physical fatigue, due to its restorative and invigorating qualities. Blends well with cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, and sage.
Rosemary is energizing with a strong herbaceous aroma. It helps to relieve muscle aches and combats mental fatigue. Blends well with cedarwood, citronella, rose geranium, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint.
Spruce has a brisk fresh aroma which is useful for easing muscle aches and pains. Blends well with pine, cedarwood, lavender, and rosemary.
Vanilla is reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities and a nourishing, calming effect. Blends well with bergamot, frankincense, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, orange, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.
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