Saturday, November 5, 2011
Discover the Anxiety-Busting Power of Aromatherapy
By Gina Rafkind, CPC, Reflexologist, Aromatherapy Consultant
Change...it's everywhere! And if you are reading these words, then most likely you have experienced some sort of change during your lifetime.
During times of change, anxiety levels rise. But you will be happy to know that you have an ally when it comes to working through anxiety and that ally is Aromatherapy!
Aromatherapy is a wonderful healing tool to help relieve anxiety. How do I know? Because I have experienced these healing benefits first hand in my own journey with anxiety.
According to Robert Tisserand:
"Aromatherapy is a caring, hands-on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, to increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to mind, body and soul."
How lucky we are to have these amazing, healing and wonderful-smelling essences at our fingertips. Very, very lucky!
Transforming anxiety through aromatherapy
Anxiety is overcome by using your senses as a pathway to presence!
One of the gifts of aromatherapy is that it uses the sense of smell to catapult you into the present moment.
When you are anxious, you are not in the present moment.
Anxiety is caused by many different issues. It manifests in many different forms, as well. But usually the catalyst for anxiety is some form of stress. Stress that is the result of a traumatic event in one's life is a huge cause of anxiety. If we do not integrate the stress in our lives, then we re-live stressful events in our heads through our thoughts. These thoughts then become stories we tell ourselves and end up believing. These stories are based either in the past or the future; hence we are not in the present moment. The present moment is the only moment where you can become totally free of anxiety.
Now of course we can think about the past or future for certain memories or information that we may need to refer back to for some reason. But if our mind lives in the past or future on a daily basis, then we will experience anxiety.
It is no coincidence how I bumped into the art of Aromatherapy and I can still say to this day that it has had a pivotal part in healing my anxiety. Of course there are other tools and techniques that I use, but I am very passionate about aromatherapy because this is what started my healing journey.
Let me take this a step further and explain to you a little bit more about how using your senses can help you relieve your anxiety.
Let's use the example of warm cinnamon buns just coming out of the oven. I can smell them already! Can you? Since your brain can only think one thought at a time, you cannot think 'I'm so anxious', at the same time you are thinking, 'Mmmm, those cinnamon buns smell scrumptious'.
Scent stops your thoughts in its tracks.
Another example is when you are in your house near an open window. The scent of a skunk comes flowing through the window and right up your nose. Need I say more?
Your body is the bridge between your mind and your soul.
On a daily basis, the average person thinks over 60,000 thoughts. Significantly, most of these thoughts tend to be self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts. The amazing thing is that most people are not even aware of this! Are you aware of the thoughts you think on a daily basis? If not, I invite you to pay a little more 'conscious' attention each day to the thoughts that your mind turns out. Write them down and start to look at what kind of energy your thoughts are feeding you each day. You will find that your thoughts either give you positive or negative energy. How will you know what energy you are receiving from your thoughts? Believe me, once you write them down and read them, you will feel the energy -- your body will let you know.
Enter the body.
Once you become more aware of the type of thoughts you think every day, you can then choose to change those thoughts into more positive ones. The way to do this is to become more present. One of the ways to immediately enter the present moment is to enter your body. Bringing attention to one of your five senses helps you to do this. When you move the focus of your attention from your mind to your body, you become more present. In this way you start to build a bridge that connects to a deeper part of you -- your soul.
Through stimulating the sense of smell, as well as through the properties in the essential oil chosen, aromatherapy becomes another tool to help you build this bridge from your mind to your soul.
Below are some of my favorite essential oils to provide general anxiety relief:
1. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) - Ylang ylang is sweet, exotic, floral and a little spicy. It is known to be an aphrodisiac. It is calming to the nervous system, brings harmony to the mind and helps relieve restlessness and agitation. Ylang ylang is a tropical evergreen tree and the essential oil comes from the flowers.
2. Bergamot (Citrus aurantium bergamia) - Bergamot helps to calm and relax the senses as well as aiding with emotional imbalances, which tend to be activated during times of change. Its scent is refreshing and uplifting, yet relaxing. Bergamot has a beautiful fresh, fruity-floral aroma. This essential oil comes from the rind of citrus fruit which is still unripe and green from the bitter orange tree. **Special Note: One thing to be aware of with bergamot is it is known to be phototoxic meaning it should not be used on your skin if you are going to be outdoors in the sun because it can cause extra sensitivity in your skin.
3. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) - Geranium relaxes the nerves and calms anxiety. It helps keep you centered and at ease which is very welcoming to many during times of change. It has a sweet, floral, rose-like scent. The essential oil comes from the leaves, stems and flowers of the geranium plant.
4. Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) - Mandarin has a calming effect on the central nervous system. You can also substitute sweet orange essential oil which is usually easier to find because it is more popular. Sweet orange is uplifting and beneficial for sadness, nervousness and anxiety. The essential oil of both mandarin and sweet orange is obtained from the outer peel of the fruit. **Note: Both Mandarin and Sweet orange are also known to be phototoxic so do not use them on your skin if you are going to be out in the sun.
5. Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) - Sandalwood's main element is the earth element so it is very grounding, being rooted in stillness and prayer. It has a sweet, woody, musk-like scent and has a calming effect on the nervous system making it another wonderful essential oil for anxiety relief. Sandalwood is an evergreen tree and the essential oil is extracted from the tree's heartwood. **Important note: I use only the Santalum spicatum Sandalwood species due to the fact that Sandalwood has become endangered because of the over-harvesting of the trees for its aromatic oil.
6. Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) - Roman chamomile has a very distinct scent. It is sweet and slightly fruity. When using this essential oil, it is best to add one drop at a time because of its stronger scent which can overtake a blend. Roman chamomile is known to help with relieving stress of any kind, including anxiety, which makes it one of your greatest allies in Aromatherapy. It also is known to help with chronic tension and insomnia. Roman chamomile is one of several species of herbs with daisy-like flowers which is where the essential oil is obtained.
7. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - Lavender is wonderful for reducing anxiety. Lavender is known as the Swiss army knife of essential oils because it is useful for so many ailments. It helps with almost any imbalance and is a great addition to your first aid kit. I keep a small vial of it in my purse so I can inhale it right from the vial when I am feeling anxious. It has a rich, sweet, herbaceous, floral scent. Lavender is a very fragrant shrub and its essential oil is obtained from the flowers.
Some other essential oils that help with anxiety relief are melissa (Melissa officinalis) and rose (Rosa damascena), as well as grounding essential oils such as cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) and patchouli (Pogostemon cablin).
Hormonal imbalance can also cause anxiety. Some essential oils that can be used to assist hormonal balance are clary sage (Salvia sclarea), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides).
As you can see, Aromatherapy is a powerful ally for achieving peace of mind, whether used by itself or in conjunction with other forms of treatment. I'll never forget the first time I smelled lavender and how it calmed me down when I was in the epicenter of my anxiety issues. It was the start of a holistic healing journey for me, and I still use Aromatherapy on a daily basis to help keep me present, balanced and anxiety free.
**Important Note: Before using any essential oils, check with your medical practitioner if you have any health concerns or conditions or if you are pregnant or nursing.
Gina Rafkind is a Certified Life Coach, Certified Reflexologist, Licensed Cosmetologist, Reiki Level 3 Practitioner, Acutonics Level 2 Practitioner and Aromatherapy Consultant. She is also founder of Vedasun.
VedaSun helps women bust through anxiety so they can wake up to their life and achieve what they want. Gina founded VedaSun to share the divine insights she experiences throughout her evolving journey of healing anxiety. Her passion is to share these experiences and discoveries with you so you too can open the channel of awareness and by 'waking up', live a happier & healthier life.
Sign up to become part of the VedaSun anxiety-busting tribe and free receive life-enhancing tips and the Anxiety Relief Toolkit at www.vedasun.com.
Click here to purchase a CD recording of Gina's NAHA Tele-conference presentation: The Aroma-Reflex Connection-Relief for Anixety.
Would you like to contribute an article for a future NAHA E-Newsletter? Click here to download the Writers Guidelines.