Essential Oils and Stress

essential oil
Image credits: Shutterstock

We are always on the go and juggling many life roles. This untreated and unaddressed stress can turn into full-blown diseases. Ayurvedic practitioners use aromatherapy to protect the vital force, which is prana, regulating digestion and metabolism, which would be agni, and increasing resistance to disease, which is ojas. Aromas are an important tool in Ayurveda for maintaining wellness and leading a balanced life.

Gandha cikitsa or aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, is one of the most popular approaches in Ayurveda for well-being. Essential oils, the pure extracts of plants, are used in therapeutic formulations for their yoga vahi value — their ability to help transport the healing constituents of herbs and plant oils to the cells of the body. Did you know that essential oils treatments can have a directly promote the sense of balance in an individual?

Each essential oil used in aromatherapy has its own array of unique healing properties, uses, and effects to help us relax, concentrate, reduce stress, balance our emotional state, and manage various health issues. A person’s unique dosha (constitution) can help determine the best essential oils for that individual.

Essential oils are often very strong substances that can be derived from all parts of the plant: flowers (rose), woods (sandalwood), barks (cinnamon), leaves (basil), roots (licorice), and fruits (orange). While their effects through aromatherapy are subtle, if ingested internally, you may have an untoward reaction. People can be injured by the incorrect use of these oils. They are highly concentrated essences of aromatic plants. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of essential oils employed for therapeutic use depends on the purity of the oils.

Using Aromatherapy to Relieve Stress

Diffuser: In our home, which is an apartment in NYC, I have beautiful diffusers (of different shapes and sizes) all over the apartment. Aromatherapy diffusers take essential oils and evaporate them through the air. This is a convenient method of creating a relaxing atmosphere at home or even in your office. I love diffusers because they spread the aroma quite effectively. If I am cooking, I love to use sweet orange and lemon, but if I am meditating or practicing yoga asanas, I enjoy Ylang Ylang, or lavender oils. If we have deep conversations at a dinner party, I might use rosemary to clear the intensity and calm the energy. When essential oils are completely pure — produced without the use of chemicals and synthetic products — the aroma and health benefits are greatly enhanced. The distillation process is also crucial to the quality of the oils.

Bath: While aromatherapy isn’t the magic “cure-all,” research says that it does help to lower stress. I add 5-8 drops of lavender, lemon, and Frankincense essential oil to warm water in a bathtub. Gently soak the body for about 20 minutes. Soaking relaxes the muscles and encourages us to let go. It’s a simple self-care practice that can quickly uplift you, create calm, re-energize you, lower stress, motivate you, reduce aches & pains, balance your emotions, and do much more. The essential oils are widely available, pleasant, and easy to use. But exercise care in both blending and using essential oils. Test for sensitivity and always dilute oils before bringing them in contact with your skin.

Travel: Add a few drops of essential oils to a piece of cotton or a handkerchief and inhale it occasionally when traveling. It’s especially helpful if there is a foul smell in the public transport or when the air doesn’t feel fresh. I love rose essential oil or even geranium oil for this purpose. You might enjoy something else. Caution: Failure to properly dilute an oil can result in severe irritation or burning of the mucous membranes of the body. For this reason, it is a general rule that essential oils should not come into direct contact with the nose, lips, mouth, tongue, rectum, vagina, or eyes.

Massage: Ayurvedic aromatherapy massages use base oil and essential oils. While direct contact with the skin does not usually burn, it can produce irritation. And some people may have an allergic reaction. During massage, you inhale the essential oils mixed with the carrier oil. The skin absorbs them and from there they enter the bloodstream and are eventually transported to the organs of the body. When your mind is calm, the body relaxes. Massages release toxins and stress stored in the body.

Kitchen cleaning: At the end of a long workday, if you want to feel relaxed but not compromise on cleaning, add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oils to 8-10 oz of distilled water. Shake the bottle well before use. Spray this mixture on counter tops, handles, and other sticky surfaces and wipe it down with a paper towel. My favorite essential oils for household hygiene are eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil. After handling essential oils, you should wash your hands with soap and water to remove any oils you may have touched. If you forget, it may create a problem if you rub your eyes or touch your nose or mouth.

Ayurveda considers the use of aroma as an important tool for prevention and healing as aromas have a subtle, yet extremely powerful influence on our mind and body. But remember that essential oils are potent substances, so a little goes a long way! A few drops are often all it takes to make a big difference! Are you willing to give Ayurvedic aromatherapy a try?

Aromatherapy is extremely useful. If you want to go to sleep at night, and you have an aroma that calms your mind, it will help you sleep.” Deepak Chopra

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your health care practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic coach, contact me here.