Aromatherapy and Mental Health
Although it is talked about more and the stigma is slowly going away, mental illness is still on the increase. From anxiety to depression or low self asteem, young people through to old will have felt some of these feelings at some point in their life. However, with more and more people finding results using natural methods of healing like reiki, meditation, chakra therapy and aromatherapy, rather than taking prescribed medication, the future is promising for people battling mental health.
Mental illness can mean anything from epilepsy, anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias to depression. Good mental health is vital for our well-being because it directly affects the quality of our life. Mentally strong individuals cope better with stress, physical hardship, or illness, and are generally more positive about life. Moreover, if you are positive about life, you are much more likely to be happy.
Mind charity recognise good mental wellbeing as being able to:
- feel relatively confident in yourself and have positive self esteem
- feel and express a range of emotions
- build and maintain good relationships with others
- feel engaged with the world around you
- live and work productively
- cope with the stresses of daily life
- adapt and manage in times of change and uncertainty
If it sounds like there is some work to be done in order to reach this level of good mental wellbeing, don't worry you are not alone! There are small steps that can be done in order to be on the right path. There are many alternative therapies and aromatherapy may be something that can help.
Aromatherapy is one of the many natural alternative medicines that are out there. It uses high quality, 100% natural essential oils taken from plants to treat a number of emotional and mental ailments such as anxiety, poor concentration, and even physical pain.
For centuries now, these essential oils which have been used for medical purposes, have been found to have physical, emotional, and psychological benefits to health. They stimulate pleasure centres of the brain that are controlled by the nerves in the nose that sense smell.
When applied topically on the skin, they directly affect enzymes or hormones in the blood. These rich essential oils help mental health patients achieve balance in the most natural way possible, minus side effects associated with synthetic drugs.
Although on the increase, mental illness is not a new phenomenon. Depression, dementia, and phobias existed even in ancient times, only they were known by different names. There is evidence that essential oils were used in Ancient Egypt, as well as in ancient India.
It has been scientifically proven that aromatherapy can help with some of the major mental health disorders:
- Stress and Anxiety relief - Lavender, petigrain, marjarom, clary sage and bergamot have great calming qualities.
- Sleep Disorders - Lavender, frankincense and chamomile aromatherapy have been used to improve sleep disorders as they promote deep relaxation. These oils are oil go-to for calming down the mind and which is why we use in our Sleepy Head pillow mist.
- Dementia - Lemon balm essential oil reduces agitation in patients with dementia. It is applied twice daily to the face and arms. Steam inhalation of lavender also helps patients with dementia.
- Low Mood - Coriander, rose, sweet orange, ylang ylang, lime and grapefruit are all great mood boosters.
- No Energy (which can be associated with depression) - Lemon, peppermint and rosemary keep your mind focused.
- Balancing moods - Patchouli, geranium, cedarwood are the best oils when our minds are all over the place.
If you want to start using aromatherapy, ask yourself first, do you suffer from anxiety, poor sleep, have general low mood, no energy or just feel out of balance? You may feel a few different things, so we suggest to try different oils at different times in the day, for eg. if you have anxiety and feel low with no energy, you could start the day with grapefruit or peppermint essential oil, use calming oils like lavender throughout the day if you are having some anxious feelings then at night go for frankincense which is a powerful sedative. You can use this oils in the form of a diffuser, oil burner, natural candles or an atmosphere mist. It's also great to meditate with which we believe is actually the most important thing for improving mental health. See our blog on using aromatherapy with meditation for more on this.
If you feel aromatherapy is for you, keep these points in mind:
- The oils used in aromatherapy aren’t safe for everyone (or every species, for that matter). Essential oils may be all natural but some can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and phototoxicity.
- Do some research before you shop for essential oils. When shopping for essential oils, look for bottles that are brown or blue or green. Clear bottles allow light in which can tamper with the oil’s effectiveness.
- Aromatherapy might not work for you. Just because it worked for another is not guarantee that it will work for you. Talk with your doctor and do your research to be sure that engaging in aromatherapy is not going to impact negatively on your illness or medication you are currently taking.
If anyone wants to share their journey or thoughts, leave a comment below!