Essential oils for lifting the mood this Spring!
As I sit writing this blog, I am immensely cheered by the knowledge that the Vernal Equinox, marking the first day of Spring, is only days away, meaning brighter and warmer weather is just around the corner!
For some of us, the winter months can be challenging, in that we can suffer from low mood, sometimes known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD include persistently low mood, loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities, feeling irritable, experiencing feelings of despair, and feeling stressed or anxious. For many, these symptoms will start to subside with the arrival of Spring.
Unfortunately though, for some, the very fact that Spring represents a time of joy and renewal, only serves to highlight the fact that they aren't feeling that way, and may even make them feel worse!
Low mood can have a significant impact on a person’s life, whatever time of year, and this made me think about what we can do to help ourselves to brighten our mood for Spring!
How essential oils can improve your mood
There are many wonderful essential oils that can help to boost and lift our emotions. Some of my all-time favourites are Bergamot, Sweet Orange and Rose, all of which are discussed in more detail below. There are many more essential oils that are reputed to be excellent mood enhancers, which can, when inhaled, help us to feel more cheerful. This is because the inhaled odoriferous essential oil molecules stimulate our sense of smell. These odours are transmitted to the part of our brain which is responsible for feelings, emotions and memory. While there may be a lack of robust scientific evidence to back up claims that essential oils can alter the mood, essential oil odours do often provide ‘feel-good’ emotions. This is supported by a rigorous study carried out by researchers in behavioural medicine at Ohio State University, who proved, for example, that Lemon essential oil, can boost the mood. In another study the impact of Orange and Lavender essential oils on anxiety, mood, alertness and calmness in dental patients was investigated, with results indicating that both odours had a positive impact upon emotional states.
Our favourite mood-boosting essential oils
Bergamot essential oil is obtained from the peel of the Bergamot citrus fruit. It can be very effective in lifting the mood and is regarded by some as ‘happiness in a bottle’ due to its mood-boosting properties. A few drops of Bergamot essential oil can be used in an aromatherapy burner or diffuser and inhaled throughout the day to improve and maintain emotional equilibrium.
Safety note: Bergamot essential oil is phototoxic, so you should avoid exposure to the sun if you have used it on your skin.
Sweet Orange essential oil is cold pressed from the ripe or almost ripe outer peel of the orange fruit and has a sweet, fresh, citrus odour. This essential oil is both a mood enhancer and a relaxant, so is a perfect choice when feeling down in the dumps or anxious. It is a safe aromatherapy oil to use, being non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic.
Rose Otto essential oil is noted for its anti-depressant therapeutic properties and is an excellent choice for helping to alleviate gloomy feelings. The oil is extracted from the flowers, has a beautiful floral odour, and is non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing.
Aromatherapy recipes for boosting and improving your mood
Run a warm bath. Add up to 5ml of the blend, and gently agitate the water to disperse. Then relax in the bath for a minimum of 15 minutes. Avoid splashing in the eyes.
- In Brief: Aromatherapy's benefits limited to mood improvement. (2008). Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Women's Health Watch, May 2008.
- Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., Lehr, S., Johren, P., & Deecke, L. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86(1-2), 92-5.