How Aromatherapy Works to Relieve Stress

aromatherapySome people prefer a vigorous workout, others a Swedish massage, and still others find it easy to unwind when surrounded by their favorite scents. Whatever it is that you do to relax, it should be something that is readily available when you need it.  The nice thing about aromatherapy is its instant availability.  Need to settle your mind at the end of a stressful day?  Simply light an aromatherapy candle.  Want to feel instantly refreshed from the moment you walk in the door?  Get your favorite scents and use a diffuser.

Whether it is bath products, candles, essential oils or incense, there are certain scents that are known to have specific effects on the human body.  Some work best for soothing a crying baby while others promote stress relief and healthy living.  But only a regular practitioner of aromatherapy could tell you if it lives up to its claims.

While it may not be quite as “proven” as other stress relievers, there is little doubt about the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy.  In fact, it has gained quite a bit of attention lately.  Now, the once-exotic aromatherapy products are springing up on the shelves of some grocery and drug stores.

Here are some findings from the research that’s been done so far.

Preliminary findings indicate that aromatherapy can alter the brain activity and behavior of the user.

It does more than just relieve the “perception” of stress; it actually increases a person’s contentment while inhibiting the production of the stress hormone “cortisol.”

One of the most popular aromas used in this type of therapy is lavender, which has so many medicinal qualities that there are companies whose entire businesses are based on this one herb.

With massage becoming so commonplace in the United States, people are beginning to embrace the concept of aromatherapy massage.  As the name implies, this type of massage combines traditional bodywork and adds the relief that comes from certain scents.  The result is longer lasting stress relief, including mental fatigue.

Is aromatherapy the cure-all for everything that ails you?

Well, that might depend on who you ask, but it does appear to be a proven stress reliever and it has no known side effects.  It can be used in a passive form, such as scents that fill the room, or it can be used to enhance other forms of stress relief such as meditation and massage.  Because they are so widely available, aromatherapy is a very convenient option for everyday relaxation.

What are the most popular forms of aromatherapy?

Candles – get yourself some aromatherapy candles and allow them to burn for hours.  Like incense, they can be used to create a soothing ambience or as a meditation focal point.  If you plan to use candles regularly, it makes sense to buy large quantities of high quality candles.

Diffusers – When using essential oils as your basis for aromatherapy, one of the easiest ways to unleash their scent is through the use of a diffuser.  Diffusers heat up the oil by sitting atop a candle or being plugged into an outlet.  It might be helpful to invest in a battery-operated diffuser if you want to use it on vacation.

Body Products – One of the best ways to relax at the end of a long day is to use aromatherapy body products because the scent follows you everywhere.  Once you drop some essential oils on your pulse points or rub an aromatherapy lotion into your skin, you will enjoy the relaxing scent for hours.

Aromatherapy Massage – Combining the pleasures of aromatherapy with the relaxing benefits of massage is one of the best ways to change your outlook on life.  Most of the popular massage salons offer aromatherapy massage as one of their popular options, and it is worth the extra money.

Aromatherapy Meditation – Meditation is already known for its transformative power over the the body and mind, but it is even more effective when enhanced by aromatherapy.  Even when you only have time for a five-minute meditation session, the addition of incense or diffused essential oils will make it that much more relaxing.

Still wondering how aromatherapy works to relieve stress?  The use of oils and incense is an ancient art that was widely used by Egyptians, Native Americans and Asian cultures.  Even when the Magi brought gifts to Jesus, they included valued scents such as frankincense and myrrh.

While not as scientifically significant as some other forms of therapy, aromatherapy is useful in a wide range of mental, physical and emotional conditions.  Different scents are used for depression, insomnia, wound healing, hypertension and other ailments.  As the chemical constituents are absorbed into the body, they affect certain physiological processes and stimulate the natural healing process.

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