Stress is a problem for nearly everyone. We all encounter stress in our daily lives. Whether it's related to work, family, school or other issues, stress can have a significant effect on the body at large, leading many people to look for ways to relieve stress.
There are multiple studies that have found that stress, particularly over an extended period of time, causes the body's immune system to crash. In the short term, this can mean that a person is more susceptible to a cold or the flu, but in the long term, it can contribute to other more serious health problems. With this knowledge, it's easy to understand why relieving stress is important and why people are turning to alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Massage: One of the most popular uses for aromatherapy, essential oils are added to carrier oils or lotions and then applied to the skin during the massage. The same blends can be used without massage, such as after showering.
- Bathing: Another very popular way to use aromatherapy is to add essential oils directly to bath water. Soaking in the warm water will open skin's pores and allow the beneficial properties of each oil to work.
- Sauna: While the use of saunas is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in some European countries, it is still a good way to use aromatherapy. Essential oils are added to water and then poured on the heat source to create steam.
- Steam inhalation: Steam inhalation works on the same premise as the sauna, but on a much smaller scale. There are small devices which use water to create steam meant to be inhaled. Essential oils can be added to the water for added benefits.
- Essential oil burners: These burners use a small candle under a ceramic or glass pot to heat oil and allow it to diffuse into the room.
- Diffusers: These work just like burners, but there is no open flame, which makes them a better option for the car or the office. Essential oil diffusers can be purchased that plug into the USB outlet on a computer or into a 12 volt outlet in a vehicle, making it possible to take aromatherapy anywhere.
- Room sprays: These are sprays that are used to spread essential oil scents throughout a room. Usually essential oils are mixed with water and then misted in the air or on furniture.
- Perfume: Essential oils can be mixed with special perfume bases or water and then misted on the body, just like commercially produced perfume.
- Compresses: Compresses are effective for treating specific areas of the body, such as in the case of a pulled muscle or a headache. A cloth is soaked in a mix of water and essential oils and applied to the area.
Essential Oils Checklist
There are thousands of different essential oils and many are used to relieve stress, and they can be used on their own or combined for maximum effect. A qualified aromatherapist will be able to offer advice on the best oils for the particular concern. These are the most popular.
- Rose Otto
- Ylang Ylang
- May Chang
- Clary Sage
- Bitter Orange
- Cinnamon Leaf
Related: Aromatherapy for Labor and During Pregnancy
There are some safety tips that everyone should follow when it comes to aromatherapy.
- Always consult a qualified aromatherapist or natural doctor before using aromatherapy. There may be some contraindications for the use of some oils in some people and only a qualified practitioner can make a safe recommendation.
- Never apply essential oils to the skin undiluted. They should always be mixed with water or a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
- If an allergic reaction such as itching, burning or redness occur, discontinue use immediately.
- When it comes to essential oils, more is not always better. Using more than the recommended amount can lead to toxicity.
- Use caution when adding oils to a bath as they can make surfaces slippery.