Emotional health is a topic that has become more openly discussed in recent years. It seems that many people today are dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiousness,, stress, and depression. Often, these same feelings trigger anger, frustration, fear and grief. When these emotions begin to interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy daily life, damage relationships or affect their job, it is something that needs to be addressed.
Therapy can be very helpful and just talking about these feelings with someone can help greatly. Unfortunately, many people resort to medications first to help them feel better. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications come with side effects and are linked to long term health issues. Studies indicate that there is improvement for patients in the short term, but long-term benefit is not as effective.
Essential oils can provide safe and natural support without negative effects. First and foremost, a healthy diet can great impact mental health. Avoiding processed foods and focusing on whole, plant-based foods will have a positive effect on the mind and body. Getting quality sleep and daily exercise are additionally important to restore and rejuvenate the body.
So how does aromatherapy affect your mental health? As you inhale an essential oil, it triggers a response in the olfactory bulb, which is responsible for our emotions. Certain oils can trigger different responses.
How do you use essential oils for improving mental health? Simply inhale a drop or two of the essential oil right from the palm of your hand. Rub a couple of drops together in your hand, cup your hands over your mouth and inhale deeply. You can also use a diffuser. Keep it next to your bed or in the main room of your home. Add 6-8 drops of the essential oil of your choice to the diffuser and enjoy the aroma for the desired effect. Another popular way to use your oils is to add a few drops to a small spray bottle with water and make a mist. Spray on to your pillow before bed or in the car on your way to work.
Lastly, you can apply the oils to your skin. Rub a few drops over your heart, back of neck or bottoms of your feet. Add a few drops of a “carrier oil” such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil to prevent any skin sensitivity.
So which oils are best for mental health? Here are my top picks:
- Lavender. As one of the most popular oils, lavender is known to ease sadness, soothe anxiety, and promote relaxation and sleep. Diffuse a few drops in your bedroom before going to sleep. Add a drop or two to your body lotion after a shower. Apply 2 drops with a carrier oil over your heart area and to your wrists to help with anxiety.
- Bergamot. Bergamot is a citrus oil that is known as a powerful mood booster. Citrus oils are generally known for their uplifting properties. Bergamot especially can help reduce anxious feelings, ease depression and sadness and increase energy. Add a few drops to your diffuser along with lavender or alone. Apply to bottoms of your feet morning and night. Be careful of citrus oils and going out into sun. Citrus oils are photosensitive, so avoid the sun for at least 12 hours after applying these oils.
- Frankincense. Frankincense is known as the king of essential oils for all of its many healing properties. It is also known as a spiritual oil and helps to calm the mind, promote relaxation, ease depression. It is also considered a grounding oil which helps to promote peace and clarity. You an use frankincense during prayer or meditation. Apply a drop or two to your pulse points. Add a few drops to your body lotion or anywhere you have pain or inflammation. Apply over your heart area when you are feeling sad or depressed.
- Wild Orange. Citrus oils are mood boosting and help to relieve depression. Wild orange is particularly energizing and helpful for anxiousness, fear, stress and nervousness. Mix a few drops of lavender and wild orange to your diffuser for a “stress free” blend. Add frankincense and wild orange your massage oil.
- Clary Sage. Clary Sage is best known for its mood balancing and uplifting effects. Used often in women’s blend, it can help balance mood due to PMS and menopause, postpartum depression and anxiety and insomnia. Add a few drops to your bath or at the base of the shower. Apply to ovary area during or before your monthly cycle. Add a few drops to your diffuser with wild orange and lavender for a beautiful, relaxing aroma.