Aromatherapy for self care? Yes please! Aromatherapy is a practice I began to learn about twenty plus years ago. At the time I was still living with home with family who had allergies, and who, quite frankly were judgemental and thought that aromatherapy was a lot of hocus pocus nonsense, so it took me another ten years to really start practicing aromatherapy. So that is my back story!
I use aromatherapy today in diffusers around my home, or even just by placing a few drops on certain parts of my body–peppermint on my sore shoulders and achy back, lavender behind my ears and on my temples to help me sleep or to induce feelings of calmness when I am especially anxious, yang yang and orange to uplift my mood. I can tell you from personal experience, that aromatherapy is a wonderful form of self care that has greatly benefited my mental health.
What is Aromatherapy?
But what is aromatherapy and why does it have great self care benefits? Sometimes called essential oil therapy, aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve your overall physical and mental health. Some call it a pseudoscience, but really aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years, used by the ancient Chinese, Eygptians, Indians as well as other cultures around the world to treat physical ailments and to aid in reducing psychological symptoms, so aromatherapy for self care is not a new concept. Modern scientific testing cannot prove the benefits of these oils, but I see no reason why they cannot be include in a self care routine as smell has been closed linked to memory and emotion, suggesting that certain aromas can elicit sense of calmness and peace.
Disclaimer: I am going to mention Saje a lot in my post, and while I wish I was an affliate I am not, so I am receiving no monies or any compensation from this amazing company. All opinions are my own.
How We Use Aromatherapy?
Since aromatherapy is largely connected with our sense of smell, we use these oils in diffusers, in sprays, inhalers, facial steams. The benefits of essential oils can also be absorbed through our skin, so we can use the oils in body creams, bath bombs or salts, and massage oils. It’s important to note that essential oils are quite potent and should always be used either mixed with another oil like grapeseed or almond oil, or in water to be diffused to avoid allergic reactions. Many are pre-sold diluted so that they are ready to apply to your body.
My favourite Oils and How I use them
Whew! Now that the educational part of the post is over with, I want to share you some of my favourite oils and how I use them.
Top of my list is lavender. No one can really practice aromatherapy for self care without this essential oil. Lavender is great for reducing stress and anxiety, it aids in sleep and is just generally a really nice oil for any time you are not feeling your best emotionally. It’s also said to help with nausea and menstrual cramps, but I largely use essential oils for my emotional rather than physical well being, so I can’t personally speak to that. I use a diffuser from Saje because I don’t like diffusing my oils with heat, and just add a few drops. It changes the whole feel of a room and your mood too.
Another oil I really love is peppermint. I have this in a roll on application from Saje, and it’s great for when my shoulders and neck are sore and achy or even for my lower back. I just roll it on and somehow the cooling burn of the peppermint really seems to release the tension and aches from my body. I’ve also used this as a facial steam when I have a cold and man, does it help move the yuckiness out of your sinuses.
I cannot not mention ylang ylang. This is a lovely floral oil, and it is just so uplifting and lovely to inhale. I feel so lighthearted whenever I diffuse this, and I love mixing it with orange as well. Perfect for a cold winter day when you feel blah, and this oil is also known to ease depression and anxiety as well as boost mood. Bonus, it helps with killing flies and larave bugs–perfect for you green thumbs out there!
Tea tree oil is one that I use topically. I like this oil for insect bites as it helps reduce the inflammation and itch, and I have heard (though I do not know how effective it is) that is good to add a few drops to your shampoo to discourage lice from making your hair its home. Good for school age kids, but again I am not sure how effective tea tree oil is for this purpose. Some people use it to disinfect minor cuts and it is known to help with skin blemishes as well. Tea tree should be diluted however, since it can cause rashes.
Brands to Consider When Purchasing Essential Oils
Many companies are selling essential oils now, you can even pick up in the health food section of certain grocery stores. However, it’s important to note that just because an essential oil says “100% essential oil” does not mean that the entire contents of the bottle are pure essential oil. My own research suggests that some brands are slapping this on their products when really, the product is diluted with a pure essential oil, or is mixed with a synthetic fragrance. So if the price looks too good to be true, consider that it might be. Essential oils are not cheap, but they are worth the money, and if you really want to reap the benefits of aromatherapy for self care, you’ll need the real deal.
Personally, there are three brands I really trust because I know they have been evaluated by third parties to verify the purity of the product. Those brands are Young Living, Doterra and Saje. Saje has over 25 years experience in the market, and over one hundred of their products are recognized by Natural Health Products by Health Canada or Over-The-Counter drugs (OTCs) in the United States. I really wish I was an affiliate with this company…
However, when I dug a little deeper for this blog post, I did find that there are several other brands out there as well that are reputable. You can find the list of those essential oil brands here.
If you have been looking for something to add to your self care routine, or ever been interested in aromatherapy, give it a shot! I have been impressed by how much I benefit from the fragrance of the oils, how they either uplift my mood or calm my anxiety and I know my husband loves blends that promote tranquility and good sleep. I am always drawn to practices that are rooted in the cultures of ancient peoples because I know that modern science cannot explain everything yet, and that therefore many natural forms of medicine and self care are being overlooked. That’s my personal opinion. Science may yet prove me wrong. But then, perhaps science will prove me right one day.
What do you think of aromatherapy for self care? Share your thoughts on the practice below.