Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Burnt out? You’re not alone. A recent study by the Australian Psychology Society found that 35 per cent of Australians reported having significant levels of stress in their lives, and anxiety symptoms are among the highest they have ever been.
Stress is a natural human response to pressure. It can be useful for increasing our energy and alertness in challenging situations, but if left unchecked it can affect our ability to cope.
We asked accredited naturopath Fiona Forsyth for her tips on how we can harness the natural power of essential oils to manage stress.
1. Take a big whiff.
Inhaling essential oil is one of the fastest ways you can decrease stress.
“Smelling good quality essential oils is traditionally known to improve our moods and relax our central nervous system,” says Forsyth. “With one deep breath you can instantaneously combat any stressful situation, whether it be feelings of overwhelm or anxiety.”
Oils like lavender and jasmine are great for reducing stress, eucalyptus will help you to breathe easier, while rosemary and mandarin are excellent for improving memory and concentration. Consider a whiff your 3pm vending machine antidote.
Image via Giphy.com
2. Power down.
We’re all guilty of it. We spend our nights binge-watching TV, texting, or scrolling through social media feeds instead of prepping our bodies for a restful night’s sleep.
“We’re all busy; we’re all working full-time or mums. And sleep is so regenerative that if we’re not getting good quality rest, we end up burning the candle at both ends,” says Forsyth.
Research shows those who sniff lavender before bed sleep deeper and wake feeling more refreshed. Another study found that infants slept more deeply (and cried less) after a bath scented with lavender oil.
The best way to incorporate lavender oil at night is to spray it around the room, mist it over your pillow or apply directly to the skin at the temples or underside of your wrist before drifting off.
3. Ditch your regular perfume.
If you’re on deadline or expecting a stressful day, try rubbing one or two drops of essential oil between your wrists, as this helps to regulate body temperature. Mint or lavender oil will have a cooling effect, and if you’re feeling fragile or in need of warmth, look to clove or ginger.
Remember that essential oils are potent and if you’re considering mixing your own, be aware that they often need to be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil before being applied to the skin.
"Mint or lavender oil will have a cooling effect, and if you’re feeling fragile or in need of warmth, look to clove or ginger." Image via iStock.
4. Spray colds away.
Scientists have known for decades that the stress hormone, cortisol, interferes with the body’s immune function. So don’t be surprised if you come down with a cold when you’re stressed out, run down and low on energy.
“Tea Tree oil can kill up to 99% of household germs,” says Forsyth. “Both Tea Tree and eucalyptus oils have anti-bacterial properties, which are great for combating colds and flu at this time of the year.”
“Sprays are a convenient way of using essential oils in an already ready-made can. I use both Tea Tree and eucalyptus oils to spray my two boy’s school hats and bags to prevent any nasty viruses, as well as nits and their eggs, coming home with them.”
5. Try tapping it.
Pressure. We all have it. Whether it’s financial, in our relationships, being over-committed, the fear of missing out, or the internal pressure we place on ourselves.
“We don’t have a sabre tooth tiger chasing us anymore to exacerbate our stress levels, but we do have our children, our boss, and our work targets and commitments that we have to achieve to live in this highly busy world,” says Forsyth.
If you’re feeling anxious, try tapping essential oils at your collarbone, under the nose or temples to help relieve stress and let go of negative thoughts. Eucalyptus can help lift your mood and feel more awake. Lavender is refreshing and cleansing. Tea Tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are useful if you are feeling unwell, and Frankincense is great for reflection and clarity.
In short, power down at night, surround yourself with super-powered scents and pay attention to your breathing. Oh, and if you’re reading this in bed, put down the phone and go to sleep. You’ll thank us in the morning.
How do you manage stress?
Here are some more essential oils and why we love them: