Anxiety is a state of constant stress. It is a condition of hyper-arousal of the midbrain, the area that is responsible for survival and is the location of the fight-or-flight response. This part of the brain responds to the thoughts the individual has that make the person feel alarmed, threatened, or worried. It is a fear-based condition and is largely the result of negative thinking.
Aromatherapy helps relieve anxiety in two ways. First of all, the brain has a direct link from the olfactory sensors in the nasal cavities to the reward center, including the midbrain. This means that when we smell something, the message goes directly to the part of our brain that involves instinct, emotions, and reactions. Certain essential oils trigger the brain to cause relaxation.
The sympathetic system is involved in the stress itself. The parasympathetic system is what calms down the sympathetic system, helping us relax. Lavender, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, frankincense, chamomile, neroli, jasmine, geranium, sandalwood, cedarwood, and clary sage are all essential oils that can trigger the parasympathetic system, causing feelings of relaxation and release. They are helpful both for calming down symptoms of anxiety and for aiding sleep. And sleep is very important for someone struggling with anxiety, as stress taxes the mind and body.
The second way aromatherapy helps with anxiety is that it can trigger positive emotions. Positive emotions help distract the person from negative thinking. When the individual thinks soothing and positive thoughts, it begins to reverse the anxiety process. While an individual can clearly do this without aromatherapy, the pleasant scents can aid this process and used in a diffuser, in a hot bath, or on a pillow, their lasting soothing effects can help prevent the person from sinking back into negative thinking.
To manage stress and anxiety, consider placing several drops of the essential oil of your choice in distilled water in a misting spray bottle. You can mist your face and body, or spritz the room or your bedding to sooth away the worries. Feel free to blend more than one essential oil for complementary scents and added enjoyment. Take a lavender foot bath, combined with baking soda or Epsom salts. Take a full-body bath with eucalyptus, chamomile, and rose. Whatever way you use your aromatherapy, remember that the power of your thinking has a lot to do with how much you benefit from essential oils, so count your blessings and smile!