As our lives become faster in a world that is increasingly demanding and, for some, seemingly threatening, depression and anxiety is something many of us might experience at some point in our life. While depression and anxiety are nothing new, most of us can recognize the growing profile and prevalence of this psychological phenomenon in our modern world.
Whether we face a stressful period of our life, find ourselves unable to manage the general buildup of stress (whether from balancing work, family or relationships), or must confront a more severe and enduring emotional battle, most of us can relate to a moment in time when we find ourselves unable to cope with our day to day lives. But life is meant to be joyful, not filled with stress.
Today, we live in what many theorists refer to as “The Medicated State”, where psychiatry and neuropsychology (viewing depression and anxiety through the perspective of physical events in the brain that can be chemically manipulated) have increasingly ruled the day. This has been born from an emphasis on the evolution of science and technology on developing pharmaceutical drugs. It has become popular because of economic factors, seen as a practical alternative to other forms of psychology that are costly in both time and money (such as therapy, which is economically unviable for many people).
There are many natural ways to combat stress and actively control mood swings. There is no single solution, and even modern pharmaceuticals used in treating clinical depression and anxiety disorders must concede an element of subjectivity and individualism of psychological make-up and even the most popular psychoactive drugs have differing effects on people, and can work for some and not others. No one situation is the same, nor the mind that is affected by it. For many who have turned to natural solutions to combat mild stress and unhappiness, aromatherapy has provided a valuable tool, alongside exercise and a healthy diet.
Many aromatherapy treatments have long been heralded as a natural way of inducing states of calm. If you find yourself suffering extreme states of anxiety and depression, it is important to seek psychological or medical advice. But there are various ways that secrets of aromatherapists can be useful for mild and every-day stress and low mood; and even in conjunction with other treatments, it can provide one more method of finding a solution that works for you. Firstly, the oils may directly affect mood levels.
For feelings of unhappiness or low mood, it is a good idea to choose those which have been attributed to an uplifting effect, which may alter both mood and energy levels. These include:
Those who suffer from stress will battle increased neural activity, as our problems literally keep us awake. This can ironically lessen our ability to deal with the problems causing this stress, as we miss out on the restorative powers of deep sleep and suffer the physical and psychological consequences (increasing the feeling of being “burnt out”, or physically and emotionally pushed beyond one’s limits).
Those who are experiencing a period of unhappiness and low mood may also have interrupted sleep patterns because of serotonin – the natural brain chemical connected to our mood and feelings of well-being – plays a role in the regulation of sleep. When we are feeling low or unhappy, our serotonin levels have dropped; this shortage can, in turn, cause erratic sleep or insomnia.
Many aromatherapy treatments have long been heralded as a natural way of inducing states of calm and (therefore) sleep; so, whilst these oils do not directly address the chemical levels in the brain (as do anti-depressants and psycho-active medication), they can help other elements of our life that do (such as sleep).
There’s nothing more powerful to help us deal with our stress than to spend time relaxing and gathering ourselves in a state of calm with which to approach our busy lives. Oils for this include:
Beyond this, it is important to remember that smell is also a phenomenon that works emotionally on the basis of personal association. While these listed oils are thought to have properties that work on a more direct physical level, never underestimate the power of scent in terms of the connections we give them. A past client of mine (during my time as a counselor and psychotherapist) once used raspberry oil because it reminded her of the raspberry bushes that lined her front porch where she would watch the sunset as a child. This subconscious association facilitated a powerful regression that gave her feelings of safety and well-being during trying times. Even though raspberry oil may not classically be seen as having any emotionally effective properties, her mind had created a powerful association that was entirely her own, and entirely effective. What’s more is that she had arrived at this realization after exploring her attraction to anything raspberry without her understanding the origins. Like many people, she had never given the origins of her personal penchants much thought. But when I asked her why she found herself drawn to the scent of raspberry whenever she was down (suggesting an obvious unconscious mechanism to create a happier space) she remembered her fond memories on the front porch of her parents’ farm. She soon purchased some raspberry essential oil, and to this day, I imagine uses it to comfort her whenever she feels overwhelmed by the day-to-day trials of her life.
So, never underestimate the power of smell! Referred to as Olfactory Psychology, this is an area still very much being explored by modern science, and it is generally conceded that the realm of scent is indeed a powerful but complicated world. Whilst depression and anxiety can – at the extreme end – be a largely physical phenomenon, for most of us, the stress and unhappiness we encounter and experience is still predominantly a problem that is psychodynamic (that is, connected to events in our lives and the context in which we deal with them), and each has a complex relationship between their psychological make-up, what has happened in their lives, what is currently happening and their ability to react and deal with the things that can cause us stress or bring our mood down. The scent and, most importantly, our associations with scent, plays a vital role in this, alongside a myriad of other components. It is a powerful and unique concept to remember when approaching the world of Aromatherapy – a world that may run even deeper than many think.
The following combination of essential oils helps to reduce stress and tension and their associated symptoms:
(Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, or Grape Seed Oil recommended)
|Bergamot Essential Oil||5 drops|
|Mandarin Essential Oil||4 drops|
|Lavender Essential Oil||4 drops|
|Lemongrass Essential Oil||3 drops|
The following is a recipe for a blend that can be used in an uplifting massage:
|Cocoa Butter||15 g|
|Apricot Kernel Oil||85 ml|
|Bergamot Essential Oil||30 drops|
|Geranium Essential Oil||18 drops|
|Clary Sage Essential Oil||12 drops|