Thoughtful Thursday: Aromatherapy
June 14, 2018
Most of us have had the experience of smelling something and having an associated, instinctual response – for instance, the smell of chocolate chip cookies reminding you of coming in from playing in the snow and sitting down to a plate of freshly baked cookies; the smell of a cooked meal similar to one your grandmother used to make, bringing you a feeling of comfort, or maybe even making you tear up a little; or even the smell of a medical facility, reminding you of an unpleasant experience. Smells can be powerful triggers, both good and bad. They can relax us, make us anxious or upset, and even trigger things like nausea (ask any woman who’s been pregnant about things that set off nausea during pregnancy, and whether they can eat or smell those things now and not be reminded).
Aromatherapy is defined by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as “the use of essential oils from plants (flowers, herbs, or trees) as a complementary health approach.” The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) further defines it as utilizing these scents to help promote bodily and mental health. Whether or not you put much stock in aromatherapy for health, there’s no doubt that smells can be powerful things and remind us of events in our lives.
Smells can help us relax, reduce the body’s immune response to stress, and even sleep – which can be helpful if you’re stressed out and staying up late with insomnia. When most people think of aromatherapy, they think of essential oils, but in a broad sense, even smells from body and hand lotions, candles or incense, and bath/shower products can have effects on us.
Here are some scents and their possible effects:
– pine can help alleviate stress
– lavender can help with sleep
– cinnamon or peppermint can help boost memory and improve concentration
– citrus scents can energize you
– vanilla might elevate mood
In addition to using mindfulness techniques, if you’re having trouble turning off your mind at night to sleep, why not try a lavender-scented body wash or body lotion to use before bedtime, or spritz some lavender aromatherapy spray on your sheets? Looking for a pick-me-up when coffee isn’t quite cutting it? What about a citrus-scented candle?
Have you used aromatherapy to combat stress, promote relaxation, or for general wellness?
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