What’s your favourite smell? I have two: frankincense, because it reminds me of getting a massage, and pine, because it reminds of me of collecting pine cones on family holidays at Center Parcs (we went there nearly every year growing up!)
I’ll bet if you think about your favourite smell, it’s associated with a happy memory. And if you think about your least favourite smell, there’s probably a bad memory associated with that too.
That’s the first thing I learn about using essential oils – you have to like the smell. It sounds obvious, but I quickly made that mistake.
When you read about all of the amazing health benefits these plant-based medicinal oils can have, it’s tempting to head straight for the ones that promise relief from your particular ailment.But, as I’ve learned, if you don’t like the smell of an essential oil, it’s not likely to make you feel good.
I’ve been experimenting with essential oils for a couple of months now, after reading up on the ways they can help remedy anxiety. I’ll be honest and say that at first, I was sceptical about the impact they would have, but the results have really surprised me.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, I’d always recommend professional medical help as your first port of call. It’s likely there’s a reason why you’re feeling a certain way and that’s something that essential oils won’t fix. There’s a list of organisations in my intro post that could help if you don’t know where to turn.
What I’ve found essential oils are great for, is relieving some of the physical symptoms of worry. For me, this means having time to calm down and recall some of the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) techniques that I use to help manage my anxiety long-term. It’s not exactly easy to think about CBT when you’re having a panic attack!
There are a number of ways you can use essential oils to relieve anxiety. I’ve found it useful to experiment with them all so I know which technique works best for me in certain situations.
It’s also important to know the dangers of using essential oils incorrectly (yep, I had no idea you could hurt yourself with these things either!) Never burn essential oils without water and never place them directly onto your skin or in the bath undiluted, without a carrier oil (I use avocado oil). There are also certain oils you shouldn’t use if you’re pregnant so be mindful of this. I spoke to a professional aromatherapist before I started using essential oils. I’d strongly advise you to do the same if you’re thinking of using them too – I’m not a professional and can only offer anecdotal information… you’ve been warned!
Five ways to use essential oils
1. Place a few drops on a cotton wool ball, and carry it with you in your pocket
This works really well if you experience a sudden onset of anxiety, a quick reminder to stop, take a beat and think about the origins of that worry. Once you’ve calmed down and cleared your head, you’ll be better able to deal with what’s making you feel anxious.
2. Burn a few drops with water using an essential oil diffuser, or buy a candle
Fragrancing a room with your favourite essential oils mix helps create a truly calming atmosphere – I use this technique when I’m anticipating stress, or when I need to de-stress before I go to sleep. If you’re thinking of buying a candle, I’d highly recommend Neom Organics‘ real luxury candles. They’re pricey, but they definitely do the job!
3. Inhale your favourite essential oil
This is definitely one of the quickest ways to experience its benefits. I tend to combine this with a deep breathing technique, such as square breathing (breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, hold for four counts and repeat for four minutes) for a more instant stress relief.
4. Blending with a massage oil
Because you should never place undiluted essential oils directly onto your skin, using a carrier oil helps them get into your bloodstream and start working their magic.When creating your essential oil blend, be sure to choose the oils based on their ‘notes’. You want to mix top, middle and base notes (Frankincense is a base note, Neroli is a middle note, Lemon is a top note, for example). Do a bit of research before you create your blend so you know which notes to categorise your oils under. I tend to mix 10ml of a carrier oil, such as avocado, with four to five drops of essential oils, but do ask a professional if you’re new to essential oils or at all unsure.
5. Followed by Bach Rescue Remedy spray
I don’t go anywhere without a bottle of this stuff in my bag! It’s a combination of five of the original Bach Flower Remedies which you can spray onto your tongue if you find yourself in a ‘traumatic situation’ (this stuff helped me pass my driving test – I’m convinced!) The idea is that it will help you get back into your normal balance so you can deal calmly with the situation at hand – particularly effective following the inhalation of your favourite essential oil.
My favourite essential oils
Commonly found in Earl Grey tea, this fragrance is uplifting and fruity because it comes from citrus fruit. It blends well with Neroli and Frankincense.
A woody base note derived from the bark of a tree. Good to inhale followed by a period of deep breathing to calm yourself down.
One of the more frequently used essential oils, Lavender has a floral scent and a calming effect. I tend to blend one drop of Lavender with two drops of Frankincense and one drop of Neroli in 10ml of avocado oil.
Another uplifting essential oil which is slightly more expensive. It’s a good one for relief of anxiety.
Another lovely floral scent which blends well with Bergamot and Frankincense to help you unwind and relax.
What’s your favourite essential oil or favourite way to use them?