Aromatherapy is an ancient practice using scent to connect heart, mind and body to improve wellbeing. It continues to grow in popularity today and has become a powerful tool in my own life. Through my personal use and providing aromatherapy products and services to others, I have witnessed the potency of essential oils in helping manage and improve a wide range of physical and mental challenges. In this article, I wanted to share with you some information about what aromatherapy is, what it can do, and ways it can be incorporated into everyday life.
A bit over three years ago I had a serious health scare. After a bunch of brain scans, MRIs and other tests the neurologist’s prognosis was that I was overdoing it. I was pushing myself to my limit and my body was sending me a wake up call. I needed to slow down and invest in my self care.
This led me to aromatherapy, which has become a tool that I use every day. And my story is similar to many others – there is some kind of trigger in their life, usually a health issue, and they struggle to find a solution that doesn’t mean taking lots of pills or other heavy medicines. Which brings them to explore alternative ways to reconnect with their bodies, emotions and mind. Hence the growing popularity of aromatherapy.
My first step was to replace all of my household cleaning products with natural alternatives. I did my research, made my own cleaning products, experimented, and refined. These days my house is completely free of toxic cleaning products. Living in the cold climate of the southern tablelands – and even though I have been here for over 10 years now – I also tend to suffer from the winter blues. And I think that is pretty common in our local community as we struggle through a pretty long period of cold and dreary days. Aromatherapy is an important part of my winter self-care routine to help boost my mood and manage those winter blues.
Recently I have drawn on my knowledge of essential oils and blends to inspire my collection of handmade soy candles. Infused with powerful essential oils and energy-releasing gemstones, the candles are another way to incorporate aromatherapy into self-care rituals. I created the candles to help provide comfort and inspiration for when people need to connect via a soothing ritual – whether it be for relaxation, sleep, love or energy.
As with any wellbeing treatment, there are cautions to be aware of and I have listed the main ones below. If you are interested in exploring aromatherapy get in touch – I can talk about it all day long!
Here is what you can find below:
What is aromatherapy?
What is aromatherapy good for?
Ways to incorporate aromatherapy into everyday life
What is aromatherapy?
Really simply, aromatherapy means using oils/scents from plants to trigger physical and mental responses with the aim of improving your wellbeing. Depending on the plant, the oils might be extracted from the flowers, bark, stems, roots or seeds.
Essential oils are extracted from plants using steam or by being pressed. The natural oils in the plant vapourise, and when they are cooled the oils condense into concentrated essential oils. It is important to only use genuine essential oils, rather than fragrant/synthetic oils, to ensure you are using a natural product and avoiding toxic chemicals.
How does it work? Well, the main effects of aromatherapy are triggered by your brain’s reaction to the smells (aroma) different plant oils can have. The molecules of a scent travel through the olfactory system (nose/lungs and into the brain). They can then affect your limbic system, which is linked to your emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, memory, stress and hormones. This is why some oils are good for activating memories and remembering information, others may be effective in boosting your mood or triggering certain emotions. Some oils have also been shown to have antibacterial properties – like tea tree and eucalyptus oils – and so are great for cleaning as well as affecting your emotional wellbeing.
What is aromatherapy good for?
Aromatherapy can be used to help in the management of a wide range of symptoms, from muscle soreness to headaches to fatigue. A few months after I started getting into aromatherapy I started helping my mum use it to combat her fatigue. She had suffered from Ross River Fever, her immune system was wrecked and she hadn’t been able to sleep for longer than two hours at a time. I encouraged her to diffuse lavender at night and within six weeks she was getting a solid eight hours sleep at night.
Here are some popular essential oils and their common uses:
- Citronella – repels insects
- Frankincense – aids inflammation, reduces phlegm congestion and is antiseptic
- Lavender – aids headaches, insomnia, burns, aches and pains
- Peppermint – assists with digestion and nausea, alleviates muscular pains
- Rosemary – alleviates muscular pains, improve memory retention
- Tea tree – aids respiratory problems, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral
In addition to physical wellbeing, essential oils have the potential to improve your wellbeing through their impact on your mood. Whether I am looking for a pick-me-up, relaxation or concentration, I know there is an oil or oil blend that will do the trick. doTerra have a mood management collection of blends that are great for helping you manage your emotions or get you into the right frame of mind.
- Balance – promotes calmness, peace and relaxation
- Lavender Peace – soothes the senses, reduces anxiety and promotes a restful night sleep
- Citrus Bliss – energising, uplifting and revitalizing
- Elevation – inspiring, encouraging, promoting joy and encouraging self love
For single scents that can help with mental wellbeing, here are some suggestions:
- Frankincense – relieves stress and irritability
- Lemongrass – for inspiration and clarity
- Peppermint – increases alertness and concentration
- Sandalwood – improves mental clarity and focus
- Basil – energises, uplifts and alleviates fatigue
- Orange – boosts mood and fosters creativity
- Lavender – promotes calmness and helps with sleep
Ways to incorporate aromatherapy into everyday life
What I love about essential oils is that they can easily, and inexpensively, be used in everyday life. The impact of scent is immediate and can be long-lasting. Here are the different ways I use aromatherapy:
A diffuser uses vapour to spread an essential oil through the air. Traditionally done using oil burners (where a candle heated a mix of water and oil), there are now a wide range of electronic diffusers available that don’t use open flames. Diffusers are a great way to spread the oil scent throughout a room, just make sure you don’t overdo it with the oil or the scent will be too heavy. Try using lemon, eucalyptus or tea tree in your bathroom. You can also use a blend like doTerra Lavender Peace through a diffuser in your bedroom at night to help with sleeping.
THis is where I started using essential oils on a daily basis. A number of essential oils are naturally antimicorbial, antibacterial and antiseptic. Which makes them excellent helpers in the bathroom, kitchen and all over the house. I have replaced all my household cleaning products with homemade versions using essential oils. If this is something you want to try, I recommend starting with your everyday cleaning spray and then moving on to more specific cleaning needs. In addition to essential oils you may need some pantry staples like bicarb soda and vinegar. You can find a heap of recipies and instructions on Pinterest. Just be careful with the dosage, only use authentic essential oils and read the label carefully.
Here are my recommended oils to use in cleaning – don’t be afraid to mix them together to make your own signature cleaning blends:
- Eucalyptus – antibacterial, antifungal, and a great deodoriser. Good for removing grease or sticky adhesives, and works well as a toilet disinfectant and floor cleaner
- Lemon – good for brightening and removing stains, add to your water when you wash white tiles or add to the washing machine for brighter white clothes. Can also be good for cleaning stainless steel appliances.
- Peppermint – a powerful antibacterial oil and natural pest deterrent. Mix with water in a spray bottle and use in the bathroom and kitchen
- Tea tree – antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal. Great to use in the bathroom where there is mold/mildew.
- Lavender – great for adding to the wash when you do your sheets and pillowcases, or add to some water in a spray bottle for an easy mattress/bed spray
At the end of a hard day, I love the instant relaxation that comes from a scented hand cream. The simple act of massaging the cream into my hands feels luxurious and indulgent and comforting. Night creams can also be a great way to harness the natural power of plants – chamomile is said to be soothing for skin irritations, lavender and cedarwood can help you get to sleep and there are a number of oils that can help reduce wrinkles (like rosemary, rosehip, sandalwood and ylang-ylang). Other body products that are great mediums for essential oils include bath oils, bath salts/soaks and soaps.
A note of warning, check that your body products use real essential oils and not fragrant/synthetic oils that are fabricated scents. Or even better, experiment with making your own body products so you know exactly what is in them! Check out Pinterest for recipes and search for wholesale cosmetic suppliers to find the base products at lower costs. Scented products can also cause irritation for people with sensitive skin so always do a patch test first.
I am a huge fan of massage, and aromatherapy massage is one of my most favourite kinds. I treat many people seeking pain relief – ranging from athletes with muscular pain to others with joint pain. In our high stress lifestyles many of us are holding a lot of tension within our bodies. I recommend doTerra’s Ice Blue blend to help alleviate pain with a soothing, cooling massage.
My signature massage is the Aromatouch massage. It is the ultimate relaxation experience and my clients tell me it is a beautiful release from their stress and tension. Using soft touch I move through ritual that involves the application of eight different aromatherapy oils/blends, each designed to move you mind and body through different levels of release.
Aromatherapy massage is an excellent tool for promoting wellbeing because you enjoying the double benefit of touch and scent to help you relax, improve your circulation, release tension, and rebalance your nervous system. It is also something you can do relatively easily yourself – just mix the essential oil/s with a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil or sweet almond oil) and massage into the skin. Oils that are good for massage include frankincense, lavender, peppermint, and orange.
Scented dried flower arrangements
Did you know you could add drops of essential oils to a dried or preserved flower arrangement? It is kind of like another form of diffuser, with the added bonus of a beautiful and long lasting flower arrangements. They are a popular gift for mum’s with newborns when using a lavedner based blend that promotes restful sleep for mum and bub. I also have a “Be kind to yourself” women’s blend that is popular for flower arrangements because it promotes self-care and self-love, which can be a powerful message to a friend in need.
Check out my dried flower FAQs here – it includes a list of my favourite essential oil blends for dried flower arrangements
Essential oils are powerful and can be harmful if not used appropriately. Keep in mind the following cautions:
- Essential oils can be toxic – refer to the bottle for appropriate use and dosage
- They are very concentrated and should be used sparingly (only a few drops at a time)
- If applying to skin they must be diluted with another medium, such as a carrier oil or unscented base cream
- People with asthma or other respiratory conditions need to be careful with inhaling vapourising essential oils
- Some oils can be dangerous for pregnant women and others with certain medical conditions. Make sure you consult a doctor beforehand.
If you are keen to get started with essential oils – or have questions about the characteristics of different oils – just get in touch and we can have a chat. I do stock doTerra essential oils and use them in my Aromatouch massages, candles and dried flower arrangements.