When my roommate brought her diffuser to college, I was confused – and slightly worried. “What’s that for?” I asked. “It’s a diffuser, you know, for essential oils?” she explained. Lined up on her desk, she had tiny little bottles labeled for different feelings: Joy, Sleep, and Focus. One night, when I had some trouble sleeping, she swiped some of the sleep oil on my wrists, and the smell knocked me out almost instantly.
After that, I was amazed at how a certain smell could affect my mood, or even get me to fall asleep. I’ve always enjoyed candles, candle melts, and depending on what scent, incense. Now thanks to my roommate, Aromatherapy. I was fascinated.
So what is Aromatherapy exactly?
Aromatherapy is the “practice of using natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well being.” So essential oils aren’t technically oils exactly, they’re a lightweight fluid that comes from a plant. However, you should invest in a neutral carrier oil to dilute really strong essential oils, or if you’re using them as part of a face regimen.
Upon further research, I learned that certain essential oils have different effects on the mind and the body. Lavender, for instance, is a purple flower that when turned into essential oil, is really great for promoting sleep, as well as a white flower known as Chamomile that can also be made into tea. Scents like Eucalyptus, a strong, minty scent, is shown to promote focus, re-energize, and also help with pain.
How exactly does Aromatherapy work, and why should we use it?
There’s a part of the brain that’s connected to smell, known as the olfactory system – and it’s theorized that when we take in smell, our limbic system is stimulated– which controls emotion and memory. So, certain smells have the power to stimulate certain emotions: joy, peace, excitement, courage, and even focus. Essential oils have the power to pull us out of a slump, put us in the right frame of mind to write a paper or finish work, or even calm us down when our brains are working in overdrive.
Aromatherapy is a great, healthy option, and has the potential to heal and rejuvenate.
Since your brain remembers smells and connects them to a state of mind or emotion, the more you inhale a certain kind of essential oil, the more your brain is programmed to enter that state, whether it be relaxed, sleepy, focused, excited, or happy, etc. Sometimes, we all need a way to relax or get motivated in a way that isn’t Netflix or coffee, though those two are amazing.
In life, it’s hard to find the time or the energy to sit down and process the emotions you’re experiencing, or to even find a healthy way to do so. Aromatherapy is a great, healthy option, and has the potential to heal and rejuvenate – especially after those really tough school and work days where you need a little extra self-care and pampering to get by.
How do you use Aromatherapy in your daily life?
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways – they can be swiped on your wrist, underneath your nose, or your neck. They can be put in a diffuser, which dilutes the oil with water and sends bursts of the oil into the air, or they can be put in an essential oil burner – which works a lot like a candle melt, you put the essential oil in the top, and a candle on the bottom to warm the oil. Some essential oils are safe to ingest as well, but always make sure to read the label before ingesting!
Aromatherapy is worth giving a shot if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or you just want to try something different. If you’re a little nervous about the smells, like me, stick to neutral smells such as chamomile and vanilla at first. Either way, Aromatherapy is a great way to wind down and come back down to earth – which we all need sometimes!1