ANXIETY & STRESS
Copyright Aroma Queen 2018
Anxiety is something we all face from time to time - from mild nerves to a completely debilitating full blown panic attack - trust me, we've been there too. Whether you're an adult, a child or a teenager, Aromatherapy is a particularly good tool for helping with anxiety, panic or general stress as it's a natural alternative that can be tailored to suit a certain taste or need, and can be used in almost any situation.
When we become stressed or anxious, our breath becomes shallow and our heart rate increases; cortisol levels (our 'stress hormone') tend to hit the roof. So not only do we feel the effects of anxiety on the mind, our bodies also react in a number of different ways.
In Aromatherapy, natural plant-based essential oils are known for varying therapeutic qualities - on both the physical and mental sides. Various oils can be sedative, calming, soothing, or even uplifting - all of which can provide a benefit for somebody suffering from anxiety or stress. So if you're looking to aromatherapy to help with anxiety or panic attacks, creating an oil blend containing a range of oils can help address a number of different aspects of your anxiety: a naturally sedative oil such as Lavender might be used to help promote a sense of calm during times of stress. An uplifting oil like Bergamot could be added to bolster confidence and give courage to face these anxious moments. Frankincense can help slow the breathing; Clary Sage might be useful to help ease tension and control female cortisol levels.
The very act of making an effort to stop and deeply breathe your essential oils - from a burner, inhaler or even straight from the bottle - can in itself help calm your body, slowing your breathing and regulating your heart rate, and helping to soothe the fight-or-flight reaction you are experiencing.
As we've discussed elsewhere, there is also the relationship between scent and memory: with repetition a scent can achieve an association. A scent that reminds you of your childhood can bring about a feeling of nostalgia (in a good or a bad way, depending on the kind of memory it brings up - fresh blooms in springtime might remind us of sunny, happy days; the scent of boiled cabbage may not!). So similarly, repetitively using an oil or oil blend in a 'safe' environment can create an association that helps remind us of the feeling of 'safety' when used in a different, more 'dangerous' environment.
For example, you could use a particular oil blend in a burner at home when things are 'safe', then have the same blend in an INHALER STICK, on an AROMA PENDANT or BRACELET when out and about, ready to access any time it might be needed or even to preempt a situation. This works particularly well with children, who are facing so many new (and potentially scary) things for the first time - a simple and inexpensive inhaler stick is easy to pop in a pocket or school bag and can be made up in their favourite colour and personalised with a label using their secret remedy's name.
For those wanting to try creating their own anxiety blends for use in any of these methods, there are plenty of oils that can be helpful. Some of the most commonly used might include:
Lavender, Chamomile Roman, Chamomile German, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Clary Sage, Helichrysum, Marjoram, Vetiver, Valerian
Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Frankincense, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, Rose
Neroli, Mandarin, Lavender, Petitgrain, Patchouli, Cypress, Bursera, Frankincense, Ho Wood, Marjoram
Your oils, or oil blends, can be used in a burner / diffuser in your house, room or space; in an inhaler or on AROMA JEWELLERY when moving about or in a public area where a burner might not be appropriate; in a CAR VENT DIFFUSER when the act of travel (or the destination) causes anxiety. You can also use your oils in relaxing baths (this works well for both children and adults but only use a drop or two with younger children - see our OILS 4 KIDS Learn More page which covers how to use essential oils around children). Or you could dilute your oils in a CARRIER OR MASSAGE OIL, or even in a natural skin cream or gel, for application to the skin - the act of massage and touch can be incredibly beneficial to help relax, and adding calming essential oils can double the impact.
If you'd prefer to use a pre-made blend rather than blending your oils yourself, we have blends suitable for both adults and children (adults can use either type, whereas we stick to more child-friendly oils in our Oils 4 Kids range so children are best using those).
For CHILDREN, our BUTTERFLY TAMER blend has been designed to help with anxiety, nerves or fear. Without question the precious oil best known to help treat anxiety is Neroli (bitter orange blossom), and BUTTERFLY TAMER features Neroli alongside Petitgrain (from the leaves and twigs of the same tree) and Mandarin to help soothe the jitters. Frankincense oil is known to help slow the breathing and produce feelings of calm, which is why it has been used for meditation for centuries; while Bergamot helps give your child a sense of confidence and the faith that they can overcome their nerves.
Using BUTTERFLY TAMER regularly, especially with mild anxiety that you are present for, or by re-inforcing it within a 'safe' environment, means that your child will form an association with the scent and will learn to use the oil as a 'go to' safe oil that they can rely on even when they're on their own or face a larger dilemma.
BUTTERFLY TAMER is available both as a pure blend, and a pre-made inhaler stick, and can also be used by adults.
For ADULTS, our ANXIETY, COMFORT and PANIC SUPPORT blends feature oils such as Neroli, Lavender, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Rose Absolute and uplifting Citrus oils, giving a range of blends to suit all tastes (click on their name above to visit their listings, which describe each in more detail - there is also a checklist on each page listing some of the best methods for using that oil).
HOW MUCH ESSENTIAL OIL DO I USE?
Visit our other LEARN MORE pages for helpful info on HOW TO BEST USE YOUR OILS using a range of methods. As a general rule, here's how much TOTAL essential oil to use FOR ADULTS, for methods that suit anxiety oils. ALWAYS USE LESS OIL FOR CHILDREN - see our OILS 4 KIDS page for more info.
* INHALER: Up to 12 drops in a blank plastic or aluminium inhaler stick
* AROMA JEWELLERY or CAR DIFFUSER: A few drops on a piece of aroma jewellery - don't use too much or it might become a little overpowering as you wear it, or in the confined space of a car
* DIFFUSER: 8-10 drops total in a vaporiser or diffuser
* BATH: 8-10 drops in a warm bath - splash well before you step in
[You can always top up your oils as they dissipate over time, or if you feel you need a little more: some oils and absolutes are stronger than others, and 'top note' oils such as Neroli do dissipate quicker than base note oils such as Jasmine or Vetiver.]
* MASSAGE OR SKIN APPLICATION: For application to skin (eg a massage oil or a roll-on bottle), dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil or massage oil such as jojoba or grapeseed, at a ratio of no more than 3% for the body, or 1% when used anywhere near the face. 20 drops essential oil = approx 1ml. So in a 5ml teaspoon of carrier oil you might add around 3 drops of essential oil; in a 15ml tablespoon or roll-on bottle use around 9 drops.
All essential oils must be diluted before application to skin, must NEVER be administered internally, and must always be kept out of the reach of children. Some must be avoided when pregnant (see individual listings), and some are best avoided around children. Read our INTRO & SAFETY blog, or our OILS 4 KIDS page for full information.
If you've found this article useful, visit our Aroma Queen LEARN MORE page for a range of additional articles, as well as a list of recommended reading on Aromatherapy and other natural therapies.