None of us are immune to stress nowadays. Strict deadlines at work, over dependence on gadgets and decreasing human interaction are pushing us towards chronic stress. Several ailments such heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and respiratory illnesses are linked to stress. Hence, it is imperative to control stress. Several studies have proven that certain essential oils can help in relieving stress, calming your senses and promoting restful sleep. In this article, we will discuss about essential oils for stress management.
In the article, we will discuss the following topics:
- Why We Need to Manage Stress?
- Consequences of Excessive Stress
- Factors Contributing to Stress
- Essential Oils Good for Stress?
- Things to Avoid
Why We Need to Manage Stress?
For some people at times stress can be a motivator to perform better and respond to situations effectively; however, too many stress agents can have a strong negative impact on our mind and body. Different people react differently to stressful situations. What is stressful for one may not be stressful for the other. For the chronic worrier, stress can be caused by even thinking about small things.
When we are stressed out, our brain undergoes certain changes which meddle in its functioning. Certain chemicals start rising in our brains such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine along with adrenalin. The release of these chemicals lead to certain physiological effects which includes increased heart rate, high blood pressure and even weakened immunity.
Prolonged bouts of stress when left unmanaged become chronic and lead to development of other serious ailments like heart disease, ulcers, asthma and even stroke. Hence, it is extremely important to shift to a healthier lifestyle that enables you to deal with stress and not succumb to it.
Consequences of Excessive Stress
- Fatigue: Certain stressful tasks require extra effort and longer hours. In order to successfully complete such tasks family time, social time and leisure often takes a backseat. Prolonged duration of having such routine can lead to chronic fatigue and exhaustion.
- Poor Physical Health: Prolonged exposure to stress leads to rise in cortisol levels. Too much secretion of this hormone can affect the immune system which can make you disease prone.
- Poor Mental Health: Too much stress can negatively affect your mental and psychological health. The feeling of not being able to cope is common when you are stressed out. This increases levels of anxiety and worry which can take the form of depression too in extreme cases.
- Increased Conflict: Constant stress causes you to consistently work under pressure and push your limits. This kind of pressure can often affect interpersonal relationships negatively leading to rise of conflicts around work and personal life. This kind of conflict impedes performance leading to more stress, thereby forming a vicious cycle.
- Addictions: In order to cope with stress, many of us look for a variety of coping mechanisms. While some of them can be healthy like meditation or yoga, many of us fall prey to extremely unhealthy addictions, for instance drugs, alcohol and even gambling. These behaviours can become addictive if not controlled and can have devastating effects.
Factors Contributing to Stress
As discussed, different people respond differently to stressful situations. For instance, people who expect too much from themselves or have little patience are often at risk for stress. Certain occupations might also be more stressful than the others such as a doctor or an air traffic controller. Moreover, people who have a genetic history for mental illnesses are more likely to be affected by stressful situations.
Various researches have shown that a majority of people in the age group of 25-48 years show work as the biggest factor that contributes to mental and physical stress. Similarly, teenagers and young adults have studies (college/university) as the biggest stress contributor and family stress affects majority of women across the world.
Some of the biggest triggers of stress are:
- Death of a loved one
- Marriage and divorce
- Pregnancy or miscarriage
- Serious illness or injury
- Being laid off or retirement
- Facing financial strain
- Big changes happening like – moving to a different city for studies or work, promotion and handling more responsibilities etc.
- Physical surroundings like closed spaces or crowds, bright lighting or dark spaces
- Facing bullying, aggressive behaviour and harassment
- Poor lifestyle like overworking and less sleep
- Consistent procrastination
- Spending excessive time socialising online (FB/Twitter/WhatsApp)
- Unreasonable expectations at work
- Conflict within teams and office politics
- Viewing excessive violence on TV/computer games\
- Facing racial or sexual discrimination
- Caregivers looking after physically or mentally challenged family members
- Childhood abuse: Facing physical/mental/sexual abuse as a child can cause long term abnormalities in mental health.
- Personality Traits: Certain people have personalities that make them more prone to stress. Someone who is emotionally unstable or has an angry personality.
Essential Oils Good for Stress?
Essential oils are known to have calming and relaxing effect on the human body and mind. Moreover, they are simple enough to use and have unique stress relieving abilities. It is advisable to use essential oils for stress, anxiety and depression.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
One of the most common essential oils known for its relaxing effects, lavender oil has a host of benefits to induce calmness. When used in aromatherapy, it helps in lowering blood pressure, heart rate and ultimately reduces stress.
2. Rose Essential Oil
The sweet scent of rose essential oil makes you feel good and comes close second to lavender for reducing stress and anxiety, particularly in pregnant women. It also provides relief from panic attacks and shock thereby leaving the user with a sense of relaxation and calm.
3. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
This sweet and floral scented essential oil is known for having relaxing effects on the mind and body. It helps with reducing blood pressure and brings in emotions of cheerfulness and optimism.
4. Vetiver Essential Oil
Vetiver oil radiates a peaceful and positive energy that gives a relaxing and stabilizing effect. This oil is great for soothing hypersensitivity and nervous tension. This is especially good for people suffering from trauma and panic attacks.
5. Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil is extracted from citrus bergamot fruit that looks like a hybrid between a lime and an orange. Having a citrus and floral scent, the oil is known for its calming effects and helps with depression.
6. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil, also known as king of oils is perfect for treating depression and providing calming effects on the mind. It further helps with meditation and spiritual healing.
7. Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile essential oil is known for its peaceful and calming effects that are great for treating stress and anxiety. It has antidepressant qualities and is also used by many for a relaxing and restful sleep.
8. Jasmine Essential Oil
Jasmine essential oil has a warm, sweet and flowery fragrance and is known to have therapeutic properties. It soothes the senses and relaxes the mind and body while positively affecting self confidence.
Essential oils can soothe your mind and relax your senses to reduce stress but if your symptoms fail to subside you must consult a qualified physician. Long term stress problems and mental disorders cannot be treated with essential oils alone.
How to Use Essential Oils for Stress?
There are certain specific methods to use essential oils that have been practiced since long. You can choose the method that suits you best. You can pick one or multiple methods to experience best results.
Our sense of smell is capable of producing emotional responses. That is why using essential oils in aromatherapy can help in reducing stress. As soon as the scent is inhaled, certain responses are triggered in our brain. These are the stimulants which help in reducing stress, calming the mind and stabilizing heart rate and blood pressure.
- Mix 2 drops of rose oil, 4 drops of Ylang Ylang oil, 14 drops of bergamot oil, 20 drops of lime oil with 3 ounce of distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake bottle before each use.
- Mix 20 drops of vetiver oil, 20 drops of spikenard oil, 20 drops of chamomile oil, 10 drops of Geranium Roseum and 10 drops of Graveolens and 20 drops of Clary Sage in a bottle and shake well. Allow to synergize for 8 or more hours before using. Use the blend as either inhaler or in a diffuser or dilute it in a carrier oil and apply on around nose and forehead.
- Put a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and tuck it in your pocket or blouse. The scent will keep you calm throughout the day and uplift your mood through bad times.
- Mix two or three essential oils and add some water to them. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and use it whenever you feel the need.
- Another way to use essential oils is in your bath. Add a few drops of your favourite oil in a warm bath or make a hot compress with towel and warm water.
- To keep an atmosphere of calm and harmony simply add 5-6 drops of essential oil in a diffuser and scent up your living area or work space.
Topical application is more common as the oil easily get absorbed and provides lasting benefits. Essential oils are potent that is why is advisable to mix them with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil or avocado oil. Use it on the affected area with light massage for best results. Here is how you can use essential oil in topical application.
- Take 3 drops of lavender oil and mix with 1 teaspoon of coconut or almond oil. Massage this oil mix on your neck or feet to experience quick relaxation and stress relief.
- Add 1 drop geranium oil, 2 drops Roman chamomile oil, 3 drops bergamot oil, 4 drops lavender oil and 2 teaspoons grape-seed oil. Mix well all in a dark glass rollerball bottle and apply on neck and wrists.
Things to Avoid
It is advisable to use essential oils in small doses during the day instead of using lot of it at one go. Different people react differently to different essential oils. It is important to conduct a patch test before beginning regular use. Especially pregnant women and children must refrain from using essential frequently. Further, avoid using the oils near your eyes or near broken or inflamed skin.