What are essential oils and aromatherapy?
Many people use essential oils in order to feel relaxed or to help to relieve stress, among many other uses.
With all the demands of a modern lifestyle, knowing how to slow down and take some much-needed time to calm your mind when you need to, can be surprisingly hard to do. For some people, this is where aromatherapy – which utilises the benefits of essential oils, made from concentrated plant extracts, distilled from flowers, roots, or leaves – can help.
Simply taking a moment to focus on your breathing and feel present in the moment can be a first step towards calming a racing mind and looking after your overall wellbeing. You can amplify that benefit by using essential oils that might help you feel more relaxed.
Essential oils are the basis for aromatherapy: a complementary therapy thought to enhance mental and physical health thanks to the properties that different essential oils have when inhaled or absorbed by the skin. For example, essential oils can be applied topically as part of a massage (oils shouldn’t be applied directly to skin, but diluted with a carrier oil), or they may be added to bath water.
There are qualified professionals who practise aromatherapy as a healing alternative therapy. But when it comes to enjoying the positive effects of essential oils on our wellbeing, basic aromatherapy is something that anyone can try.
How to use essential oils for aromatherapy
The simplest way to experience the benefits of essential oil is to twist the cap off the bottle and breathe deeply through your nose to take in the scent. Avoid getting pure essential oil on your skin, as this can irritate if not diluted properly.
Spritzing yourself with a diluted essential oil spray or using a portable roll-on is another easy way to make aromatherapy part of your self-care habits, and can be handy when you’re on-the-go.
To apply essential oils topically, always dilute your essential oil with a base oil, like coconut or almond oil, before using on skin anywhere on your body. Try massaging any tension points, such as your neck or temples.
You can further boost the relaxing qualities of a hot bath by adding some diluted essential oil to the water for a soothing experience.
Which essential oils help with relaxation and stress relief?
Lavender as an essential oil
Lavender, with its vivid purple, distinctly scented flowers, has long been celebrated for its soothing properties.
Lavender flowers have been used for centuries for both perfume and medicinal purposes. And that sweet, floral aroma is why lavender essential oil is an ingredient that’s often present in today’s air fresheners and scented candles.
But lavender doesn’t just make your home smell good. The calming scent of Lavender Essential Oil is thought to help reduce anxiety, relieve tension and relax the senses.
Lavender Essential Oil is also widely recognised for its benefits in promoting restful sleep. If you struggle with insomnia or disturbed sleep, try inhaling lavender oil before going to bed — it might even help to slow any racing thoughts and allow you to begin to relax into sleep.