13 December 2013

Personal Aromatherapy

Just a quick disclaimer: I am not a professional by any means when it comes to aromatherapy, holistic medicine, etc. Also, aromatherapy may not work for everyone, but at least it is enjoyable if you like the scents!

Now, here's the thing...we work off of something called the process of...smell. What is so intriguing about aromatherapy is the psychology behind it; once your olfactory system (found in the nose) senses the smell at hand, it stimulates the brain and triggers some sort of response (psychological, physiological, etc.).

...But. From what I've studied, it's hard to have a psychological or physiological reaction to a scent if you haven't come across it before. For instance, my mother's favorite lotion, Twilight Woods by Bath & Body Works, smells to me heavily of vanilla and sweet fruit. There was a certain day when I had a particularly bad seizure. I couldn't open my eyes, every muscle felt tight and painful, and I was fatigued to an extreme degree. My mom kept placing her hand on my cheek, and the fragrant scent of her lotion would calm me.

Even now, when I smell my mom wearing the same lotion, a sense of calm, comfort, and love sweeps over me. It may just be for a second, but it is there.

If I had never had this emotional experience, I would not have such a psychological reaction to this scent, and even to other similar vanilla scents.

Aromatherapy has been associated with allowing relaxation from daily stress and aiding in sleep, but it also can help provide energy, and possibly ease pain. Most people who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to aromatherapy will throw out the idea of using lotion as a calming scent because the scent is artificial. Essential oils are natural--they're made from plants, whether that means the plant's leaves, its roots, fruit, or anything else that makes up the plant. It's the real stuff, people. Which is why you're supposed to dilute the oils with water if you want to use them on your skin (be extremely thorough about this process--look it up on the company's website or talk to a professional before using!)

As far as actual aromatherapy goes, professionals are the best if you want a good massage or just a good relaxation day or atmosphere. But if you have some kind of diffuser you can put essential oils into, or if you're up for dabbing some essential oils on yourself, then give aromatherapy a try by yourself.

Heck, they even make aromatherapy diffuser necklaces!

If you just want to start out slow, and you're having trouble sleeping or you want to be prepared for a time when you will be having trouble sleeping ;) there are lavender eye masks, microwavable pillows (that you can even make), and my favorite: pillow mists!

And you don't have to stick to humans! Apparently you can hang a cloth sprayed with some lavender oil in your car when traveling with your dog so you aren't freaking out the whole ride about your dog freaking out. According to Cesar Millan--yes! the "Dog Whisperer"--you can simply rub it on your hands and let your dog smell it.

Lavender is probably one of the most popular scents and one of the first scents that comes to mind when someone mentions aromatherapy.

There are of course, your oils like patchouli and sandalwood that many people associate with hippies, but are actually in many perfumes and are very sensual. Tangerine, rosemary, and bergamot are all really energizing for me. That bergamot might be one reason I like Earl Grey tea...
Trust me, you can do a lot of mixing when it comes to essential oils!

The best part of aromatherapy is finding that scent. The one, you know it.
It brings back a memory you had forgotten, or you thought you had forgotten.

Recently, I smelled the sweet, sweet floral scent of ylang ylang. It's hard for me to describe, but, it's a floral smell alright. When I was younger, in a relationship, happy, and the healthiest I can remember being, I had a chapstick with ylang ylang in it. This sounds so silly now, but it was my favorite chapstick because the scent was so alluring and...it was a good chapstick. When everything was taken away from me--my health and happiness, my once stable relationship, and my former carelessness of youth, I sank into depression. It sucked to say the least.

When I smelled ylang ylang again, tears welled up in my eyes. All I could think about was how happy I used to be. How young and smart I was and how much potential I had. I used that chapstick full of ylang ylang so much and at so many memorable moments that just the scent of it, more than five years later, brought up so many memories and emotions that I almost dragged myself down into another who-knows-how-long depressive state. It took everything I had to remember I need to concentrate on the present, not the past, not the future.

Scent is all about memories.

Today I'm going to fill my room with a soy candle made of lavender and patchouli to help ease my anxiety and keep me feeling "grounded" in the present.

What are you more likely to try--a diffuser, essential oil massage, or a candle?

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