Our lives are busy, so it’s important to always be on the lookout for new ways to lower our stress levels and boost our well-being. If you’re looking to give your self-care routine a quick boost, aromatherapy can help. But just what is aromatherapy and how can you get started with it? Read on to learn the basics of using aromatherapy for mental health.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy practices date back thousands of years to the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, and India. Certain plants were chosen for their aromatic properties and were distilled into oils or made into balms or resins. These compounds were then used for spiritual or religious practices, as a component of medicine, or for pleasure. Over the centuries, aromatherapy was used to promote physical and psychological well-being, but only in recent years has the practice been given scientific and medical attention. Aromatherapy is now a popular practice among holistic healers and those who want to find relief from physical and mental ailments without turning to harmful drugs.
At its core, modern aromatherapy is based around the practice of using aromatic essential oils to improve physical, mental, and spiritual health. It engages our sense of smell and may help our mental well-being by improving sleep quality, lowering stress levels, and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. While the scientific community is only beginning to research aromatherapy and its potential benefits, it has been popular for decades. Proponents of the practice have dedicated entire businesses to sourcing and selling high-quality essential oils, which makes it easier for anyone to get started with aromatherapy. Today, you can find essential oils in many products including candles, sprays, perfumes, cosmetic items, and more. They can be used as a component of a spa treatment or a massage to help with relaxation.
Aromatherapy works by activating our body’s limbic system, which plays a part in functions like mood, memory, learning, sex drive, and emotions. Inhaling the aromas of different essential oils will activate our limbic system in different ways and can affect a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and more.
What Benefits Does Aromatherapy Offer?
Aromatherapy offers a wide array of both physical and mental health benefits to those who practice it regularly. The list below focuses mainly on the positive effect it can have on your mental health:
- Relieve stress – essential oils like lavender, lemongrass, jasmine, and chamomile can help to promote relaxing brain waves, helping to melt away the stresses of your day.
- Improve sleep – ever enjoy a cup of herbal tea before bed to help prime your body for sleep? Many nighttime tea blends take advantage of aromas to help with relaxation and sleep.
- Enhance focus – some preliminary evidence shows that essential oils can improve your concentration, memory, and overall cognitive performance.
- Boost energy levels – some scents are proven to be energizing, so if you find yourself in the midst of a midday slump, aromatherapy can help!
Everybody responds to different aromas slightly differently, so it’s important to find a blend that works for your unique needs.
What Are The Best Essential Oils To Use For Aromatherapy?
There are dozens of essential oils on the market that you can use for aromatherapy practices. If you’re looking to specifically boost your mental health or performance, here are some of the best essential oils to try:
- Lavender – lavender has some of the most solid scientific evidence to back up its use. It has been proven to reduce stress, calm the nervous system, relieve anxiety, and improve sleep.
- Lemon – lemon and other citrus aromas are invigorating and refreshing. Lemon, in particular, can help to boost your brain’s serotonin and dopamine production.
- Chamomile – chamomile is a popular component in some herbal teas, and for good reason. Chamomile is known for its ability to help fight inflammation, can affect all systems of your body including your brain.
- Frankincense – frankincense’s pleasing, earthy aroma has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in mice. While studies have yet to show the same effects in humans, there is promise that it can improve mental health.
How To Get Started With Aromatherapy
To get started with aromatherapy, the first and most important step is to find a trustworthy supplier of essential oils. There are tons of products that include essential oils on the market today, so it’s essential to find a reputable seller that has information available to back up their products. Some products that you may find on the market vary in quality, purity, and effectiveness. If you choose to buy essential oils online, read reviews of the brand, check their website for information about where they source their products, and reach out to their customer service to find answers to your questions. A reputable essential oil seller will offer stellar customer service and plenty of information.
Next, read up on how to use essential oils. In most cases, when you buy pure essential oils, they must be diluted before you use them. These are powerful substances and can be harmful when used in doses that are too high. These oils aren’t regulated by the FDA, so they should always be used carefully and according to directions.
Next, choose which essential oils you want to work into your routine. It might take a little experimentation to find one what’s right for you. You may want to try a few different aromas at different times of day, or when you’re starting to feel the negative effects of stress or anxiety. You can use a tool like a diffuser or use properly diluted oil directly on your skin. Use certain aromas as part of your wake-up routine to help get you focused, energized, and ready for the day. Then at the end of a long day, you can use other aromas to help you unwind, or enhance meditation practices.
Aromatherapy, when used as a part of your regular self-care routine, can enhance your mental health and boost your overall well-being without the harmful side effects that some prescription drugs have. If you’re looking for an all-natural, time-tested way to relax, aromatherapy is the perfect solution.