How Aromatherapy Supports Mental Health
Three Essentials that help.
By Tanesha Manigo-Brown
Wait, did it ever leave?
We were in the thick of this pandemic, and just when rays of sunlight began to pierce through the clouds signaling a move toward healing, a ginormous bird appeared and ripped the sun into pieces.
Okay, that couldn’t really happen, but it sure felt like it some days.
Now we are here questioning who hit the rewind button and it’s emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. How do we cope when we can’t see the very thing that can potentially alter our lives forever? Some are taking precautions, others are not. We’re trying to understand the logic of how city and state buildings can shut back down to visitors. And who can receive protection, while the doors of schools are wide open to serve the most vulnerable.
How do we cope?
Daily we need to function, subsist, feel productive and remain aware of what we can do. The toll it takes to maintain any level of sanity consistently during these times can be very draining and taxing on the body and mind. Consider all of the vices we could involve ourselves in to temporarily mend hearts and suppress thoughts. In actuality they are often things that will create more chaos for us.
How do we cope?
We should find comfort and support in the very thing that surrounds us to enhance our physical and emotional health. It comes from nature.
Aromatherapy, sometimes called Essential Oil Therapy, uses natural plant extracts to aid in improving the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It’s been my go-to to address bouts of sadness, physical pain, anxiety, stress, despair, motivation, focus, trauma.
Does my list sound familiar?
I know I’m not alone and this list is not exhaustive. The recent traumatic death of a dear and loyal client nearly took me out. I had never experienced anything like that. Now add that to this pandemic stress pile and well…I need to survive. As tempting as my “liquor” stash looked, I’d rather thrive on remedies that will not alter how I think, feel, and act, but enhance it.
Three of my favorite essential oils for their multifunctional abilities in addressing the above conditions are Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) and Cedarwood (Cedrus deodara). Each have strong therapeutic properties that make them a must to have on hand and don’t require anything else to be effective.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) with its floral, apple-like aroma is relaxation in a bottle. It calms, soothes, and sedates. Over-thinking, worrying and tension are released to support a deep, restful sleep. For physical symptoms, it was traditionally used to relieve pain, Roman Chamomile can be blended with carrier oils like jojoba to counteract inflammation, calm spasms, and support healing. I frequently use it in my relaxation blends for the bath, diffuser, and balms.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is an important oil to help reduce insomnia and anxiety. Bergamot, extracted from the fruit rind, has an initial citrus scent that softens to a softer, sweeter note. It’s a favorite for that reason, but more so because it’s emotionally uplifting, and as an anti-depressant it supports the release of repressed emotions. Try cleaning with it to add anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Cedarwood (Cedrus deodara) connects you to the earth. Extracted from the wood of the plant, it’s balsamic, earthy, and warm. It’s grounding to help you feel present and centered. Emotions are stabilized and confidence is built which makes for a great nighttime meditation oil or inhaler. Often feelings of instability can cause abdominal disturbances. Cedarwood assists in settling digestion while it’s also a decongestant reducing congestion and swelling. As a skin aid, it’s nourishing in skin creams, bath salts and scrubs.
For added benefit, when using these essential oils practice simple deep breathing exercises.
While diffusing quietly sit in an area free from distractions. Close your eyes and take deep breathes in through the nose, hold for a few seconds, then allow the air to expel slowly and fully through the nose.
When applying topically, focus on the massage component rhythmically matching your breath pattern with each stroke.
For steam inhalation, drop one or two drops maximum (more is not effective) of your essential oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Make sure the water is not boiling to prevent burns. Place the bowl on a steady surface, close your eyes and put your face over the bowl. If the steam temperature is comfortable, put a towel over your head, breathe in, and allow yourself to relax for a few minutes. You may cough, you may feel the need to blow your nose. If so, do it then go back under the towel. All these things are good to help clear your sinuses and lungs.
Feeling overwhelmed or being emotionally, physically, or spiritually tired is not becoming. Let’s expose ourselves to the healing properties of nature through aromatherapy to breathe, live and move freely.
For more use and blending ideas, or questions feel free to connect me through email at email@example.com or at www.pilatesandaromatherapyco.com.
Tanesha Manigo-Brown is a Certified Aromatherapist, Pilates Teacher and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. As a lightworker she uses holistic therapies to help others rebound from emotional and physical disruptions to feel like themselves again. To find out more visit pilatesandaromatherapyco.com