Aromatherapy for the mind - addressing the cause!
As holistic therapists, we really focus on trying to balance the ‘whole’ person. Whilst most modern medicine looks at just the symptom, we try and look at what is underneath that: we look for the cause. Often, this can be a mental or emotional factor.
Imagine your being is made up of layers.
You can see that there is a physical body, but there are also mental-emotional and spiritual layers outside of our physical layer. If there is dis-ease in one level of the body, it can cause imbalance in the other layers. So, when the mind is over-worked, it can manifest physically.
For example, take eczema, which is a physical symptom; this is often caused by stress. A modern doctor might prescribe to treat the red, itchy, inflamed skin, which is one approach that can help your symptoms. However, if we don’t also remove the maintaining cause, then the eczema will still be there. If we address the mind-layer stress as well, this can really help the overall condition!
In this blog, we identify some of the more common mental-emotional maintaining factors in dis-ease, which underlie many physical complaints, and suggest some essential oils you can use to help complement your approach to health! Read on for how to help balance any underlying ‘mind’ causes with aromatherapy!
Common ‘Maintaining’ Mental-Emotional Causes
Firstly, let’s look at the common maintaining causes and how they might present in the physical layer:
Sometimes you don’t even know you’re stressed! Our physical bodies go into a stress response – fight or flight – in situations which we feel threaten our resources to deal with. It’s an automatic process dealt with by the Autonomic Nervous system, so it doesn’t always register on the mental layer.
Physical symptoms of acute stress include increased adrenaline and therefore heart rate, increased breathing, shaking, decreased digestive function, and cortisol release which affects blood sugar levels and immunity. Prolonged stress can lead to further physical and mental-emotional health issues.
Anxiety means we are stuck in the stress response. Stress can lead to anxiety, and vice versa – it can be a bit of a cycle. Therefore, many of its symptoms can be manifested in a similar way – heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest pain, insomnia, lack of concentration, fears, apprehension and dread, digestive disruption – all of which can be exhausting.
If you are not too in-tune with your body or emotions, you may not know you are depressed, but often it manifests as low mood. Physically, it may present as moving or speaking slowly, changes in appetite or weight, constipation, lack of energy, unexplained aches and pains, loss of libido, changes in menstrual cycle, or insomnia or over-sleeping.
Repressed Emotion – e.g. Anger or Grief
Repressed emotions are often a cause of depression, but can manifest physical symptoms in any area of the body – digestive problems, tummy ache, tension, aches and pains, headaches, jaw clenching, insomnia, dizziness, chest pain, increased heart rate and breathing, and low energy. Suppressed emotion shows as such physical symptoms, but may also be combined with outbursts of extreme feelings, such as resentment, anger or sadness, and may also include feelings of numbness.
Essential Oils for Emotions
If you recognise any of these physical symptoms in yourself, there are essential oils you can use to help treat the ‘mind’ causes:
Some of the most useful essential oils are shown above, but here are some relaxing and rejuvenating tips to help you combat mental-emotional layer blockages, along with some beautiful aromatherapy blends to soothe your mind!
Essential Tips for Stress
If you’re feeling stressed, you need to make some time for yourself. What do you enjoy? Whatever it is, make time to do it – it might be going for a walk, knitting, or getting a massage. You can do all of these things and implement essential oils into your routine:
- Try popping any of the essential oils for ‘stress’ onto a tissue and sniffing it regularly whilst on the go – Chamomile is a great calming influence!
- Diffuse your favourite ‘stress-busting’ aromatherapy oils into the room via a candle burner or aromatherapy diffuser – 3 drops each of Frankincense and Lavender is a good blend to try.
- Get an aromatherapy massage with stress-busting essential oils!
- Enjoy a 'stress-busting' aromatherapy bath. Run a warm bath, and close all the windows/doors. Mix 2 drops Sweet Orange essential oil, 2 drops Lavender and 2 drops Rose in half a mug of full fat milk. Use it as a bath milk, then lie back, relax and take some nice deep inhales and exhales, focusing on enjoying the present moment.
Essential Tips for Anxiety
- When anxiety kicks in, try and remember to 'breathe' – extend your exhale to be longer than your inhale. You might not realise it at the time, but it will all be OK!
- Grab some Cypress essential oil and pop 3 drops on a cotton pad to inhale - this will help restore calm.
- Try an anti-anxiety meditation. When you start to feel anxious, diffuse your favourite calming essential oils and sit down to meditate mindfully - focusing on the sounds that are happening around you. Try 4 drop Bergamot, 1 drop Geranium and 3 drops of Patchouli (or Clary Sage) as your diffuser blend. If it helps, write down whatever is bothering you, and next to it, challenge whether it really matters in the long-run! It probably isn’t as big a worry as you imagine. You could also try repeating some positive affirmations to counteract things.
Essential Tips for Depression
When you’re feeling low it is difficult to do anything, but that makes self-care a priority. You must make time for yourself! It’s ok to have a day to yourself, and just sit with your emotions whilst looking after your physical body.
- Grab yourself a nice warm drink, wrap up warm and pop your aromatherapy diffuser on with 3 drops each of Melissa and Sandalwood essential oils. Pop some Lemon oil in too if you want to be really uplifted, and if energy is low. Try and work out what it is that is making you feel low, use any techniques that make you feel inspired – yoga, meditation, essential oils, journaling, singing, dancing – or just lying on the sofa watching telly!
- Try a self-caring uplifting massage to pamper yourself. Mix 12ml of carrier oil – e.g. Grapeseed, Sweet Almond, or Coconut oil – and add 2 drops Neroli essential oil, 2 drops Patchouli and 2 drops Lemongrass. Starting with your legs, then arms, neck, and shoulders, massage in the direction towards your heart with long, gentle strokes. Use a clockwise circular motion for massaging the abdomen.
Essential Tips for Repressed Emotion
You may not realise if you feel numb, but this can be a sign of repressed emotion. Have you recently experienced a trauma or grief - no matter how big or small you feel it is - that you feel you handled fine – or perhaps you don’t feel anything at all? Perhaps you became physically ill after a trauma. This can be a sign that you haven’t dealt with your emotions.
It is crucial to do this; when things happen to us, we need to look at them and let ourselves feel how we feel – however that is, it is ok. Essential oils can help us through this process and make it a bit easier.
- Take some space for yourself – perhaps book yourself on a retreat if you can, and take your essential oils with you! All of the techniques above can help you take some space for yourself, so you could work through these.
- Rose is a powerful essential oil for suppressed emotion: it helps deal with grief, trauma and anger. Ylang Ylang is powerful for shock, and can help release trapped emotions. Rose Geranium essential oil is great for fluctuating emotions. Rosewood is an extremely comforting essential oil. Sweet Marjoram is great for calming grief. Use these as necessary with the above techniques.
- You can also make yourself a 'Healing Repressed Emotion' Spritz to help with the process of recovering connection with your emotions. Pour 100ml of Orange Flower Hydrolat into a small atomiser bottle and add up to 10 drops each of Rose, Ylang Ylang and Rosewood essential oils. Keep this bottle with you and spray over yourself throughout the day.
- Take some time for yourself each day to provide yourself some space; meditate, journal, do whatever it is that gets you back in touch with how you feel: your truth. Use the spritz at regular intervals to support you – it may help uncover whatever emotion it is that needs to be expressed.
Remember, there are also essential oils to support the physical layers as well, so throw those into the mix – for example, Ginger has an affinity with digestion, Basil supports the head, Lavender is great for muscles and joints. Play around with your blends to tailor them to you!
Overall, the important thing to take away is to acknowledge the link between the physical and the mental-emotional sphere; remember that there is that connection with the mind-body-soul. Sometimes we might need an extra bit of support to address the underlying cause – and that is OK – essential oils can help!
Guest Blogger & Consultant Aromatherapist