ZAQ

Top 5 Essential Oils for Stress

hammock Stress plagues us all. From tight work deadlines to busy schedules, stress comes in many forms and relaxing can be difficult, especially since there are several ways for your body to interpret stress:
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches/joint pain
  • Lowered immune system
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Apprehension
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of concentration/listlessness
These five essential oils will help with stress reduction by targeting most of its symptoms.

Lavender

One of the most common essential oils, lavender has a pleasant earthy scent that is lightly sweet and freshly floral. The overall effect of lavender is calming, but it also helps promote concentration, balances your mood and relieves muscle and joint pain.

Learn how to make your own lavender aromatherapy jar. 

[caption id="attachment_24752" align="alignright" width="150"]Source: Hindrik Sijens via Flickr Lavender Flower/Source: Hindrik Sijens via Flickr[/caption]

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile oils have a warm scent lightly accented by apple and sweet straw. The overall effect is relaxing, reducing anxiety and dispelling anger. It calms anxiety and fear, settles nausea, levels out the mood and helps with meditation and sleep.

[caption id="attachment_24754" align="alignright" width="150"]Source: Melanie Shaw via Flickr Chamomile Flower/Source: Melanie Shaw via Flickr[/caption]

Frankincense

Comforting, warm and exotic, Frankincense’s use in prayer and meditation dates back to ancient times. Rich in sesquiterpenes, molecules that penetrate the blood-brain barrier, Frankincense promotes the transfer of oxygen to the brain, and contains incensule acetate, which lowers anxiety and depression.

[caption id="attachment_24751" align="alignright" width="150"]Source: Rod Waddington via Flickr Frankincense Tree/Source: Rod Waddington via Flickr[/caption]

Sandalwood

This sweet, warm, rich and woody essential oil is most commonly used in body oils, incense, perfumes, aftershaves and cosmetics. It also has a long history of spiritual use in Eastern religions. The smell hits the limbic system, promoting relaxation, balancing emotions and boosting the immune system.

[caption id="attachment_24755" align="alignright" width="150"]Source: David Eickhoff via Flickr Sandalwood Flower/Source: David Eickhoff via Flickr[/caption]

Marjoram

Known as the “joy of the mountain”, Marjoram’s bright, warm, slightly spicy smell reminiscent of balsamic calms hyperactivity, promotes mental clarity, relaxes muscle tension and relieves pain. These effects combine to make it easy to sleep.

[caption id="attachment_24753" align="alignright" width="150"]Source: Bart Busschots via Flickr Source: Bart Busschots via Flickr[/caption]

Calm Yourself: Homemade Lavender Aromatherapy

Homemade Lavendar Aromatherapy in  Calm Down Jar There are days when the stress is high, tensions are taut, and the urge to lash out is nearly boiling over. These are the days when you could use a little calming influence to pull you out of your funk and back into the relaxed, laid-back person you want to be. In comes the Homemade Lavender Aromatherapy jar. Give it a scratch and a shake, and then watch the sparkles settle – taking your tension with them.

What You’ll Need

  • Clear glass or plastic jar Up-cycle an old mason or jam jar, just make sure you clean it first!
  • Lavender sprigs Aim for three
  • Glitter
  • 1 oz glitter glue
  • Square cloth Make sure it’s large enough to wrap over the lid of your chosen jar, with lots of fabric to spare
  • Ribbon & rubber bands Choose one that will be easy to tie around the jar and, if you want, has soothing colors
  • “Confetti” (optional) This can be store bought confetti or multi-sized buttons, sequins, beads – anything that will clack against the jar without breaking it
  • Stir stick Something long that you can toss afterwards
  • Kettle & water
  • Pinking shears or sewing scissors
Most of the supplies can be purchased at your local dollar store or craft store.

Ready to Get Crafty?

Put your kettle on – let the water come to a boil, then set it aside to cool.
  1. Pour glitter into the jar so that it fills ¼ inch and covers the bottom.
  2. Add your “confetti” of choice – you can pick anything that’s heavier than the glitter, really.
  3. Fill the jar half way with very hot (not boiling) water.
  4. Add the glitter glue, stirring constantly to prevent clumps. When the glue has incorporated completely, add more hot water – fill the jar until there is ½ inch of space left at the top.
  5. Set the jar aside to cool while you prepare the lid.
  6. Spread out your cloth and lay the lid in the center. Draw a circle around the lid that is an inch or more larger from the edge (the resulting circle will have a diameter 2 inches or more larger than the lid).
  7. Cut out the circle with your pinking shears.
  8. Close the jar tightly (if you want, you can glue it shut).
  9. Break up your lavender sprigs and place them in a pile on top of the closed jar. Carefully place the fabric on the lid; ensure that the lavender stays in the middle/on top.
  10. Secure the cloth tightly to the jar with a rubber band and then tie on the ribbon.
Voilà, your very own calming aromatherapy jar. Shake it up, scratch the top, inhale the calming lavender and set it down to watch the glitter – and tensions! – settle.

Don’t like lavender?

Or maybe you need to be energized rather than calmed? You can add any fragrance you like to the top of your jar, providing it’s in a dry, leaf-like form (or else the scratching won’t work). Use lemon rind or peppermint leaves to help you focus on your big project; orange peel or dried jasmine to give a spark of happiness when needed most; cinnamon sticks to combat mental fatigue; and even dried rosemary to help if you’re studying for a test or need to remember something important. Now go, get crafty and calm yourself! This project was sourced from veryveryfine.com and adapted for your personal use.

Aromatherapy 101

Have you ever had a smell trigger a memory – of your grandmother’s strawberry jam, of clean laundry or even of a moment of your life you’d rather not remember? Your sense of smell can take you from the present to a moment or to an emotional feeling that you didn’t even know you remembered. Aromas play a large role our everyday life. They give our brain cues on how to feel and what to think. Some aromas are more potent, influencing not just our memories but also our psychological and physical responses. This is where aromatherapy comes into play.

What is aromatherapy exactly?

Aromatherapy takes advantage of the influence fragrances have on our brains to set a mood, stimulate “cognitive function” and make you feel good mentally and physically. The aromas come from plants and other organic sources in the form of essential oils, making it a natural way to help you keep a positive outlook on life. The concept of aromatherapy isn’t really a new one. Essential oils have been used in medicine since the first century; in 1936, René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, coined the term “Aromatherapy”. His book, Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy, outlines the early uses of essential oils in the treatment. The start of a new science for well-being. His book, and the practice that evolved from it, created a new dimension to our sense of smell. No longer just perfumes, aromas are powerful tools that can provide relief from stress, pain and tension. If used correctly, that is...

How does aromatherapy work?

Your brain is an amazing machine. It processes a million different pieces of information simultaneously and smell, being one of the five senses, is pretty important. The “limbic system” of the brain is particularly vulnerable to scent - since this is the section of the brain responsible for feeling and sensation, that means that hitting the limbic system with a specific smell will release chemicals (good ones) that make you feel relaxed, calm or even stimulated. There are three ways of hitting that limbic system of yours with aromatherapy:
  • Aerial diffusion: essential oils are sent into the air via a diffuser.
  • Direct inhalation: essential oils are sniffed, either directly from the bottle, in steam, from your palm, in the form of smelling salts, in a handkerchief or through tubes.
  • Topical application: probably the most common form of aromatherapy, essential oils are rubbed into your skin via lotions, oils, soaps or a soak in a bath (when combined with a massage, this is probably the most relaxing!)

What is aromatherapy used for?

There are many different reasons to use aromatherapy. Possibilities include:
  • Relaxation
  • Calming
  • Promoting sleep
  • Fighting depression
  • Easing muscle and body aches
  • Promoting blood circulation
  • Aiding with digestive problems
Aromatherapy, especially if it’s done at home, is a complement to medical treatment. While the science behind aromatherapy has progressed with leaps and bounds, it is still better to be treated by an expert for a medical problem! Keep in mind that there are risks to using aromatherapy; people who have allergies, like hay fever, or asthma, eczema, psoriasis, epilepsy, hypertension and DVT, should consult a doctor before trying out a new aromatherapy technique. You should also check if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant, just in case.

How are aromatherapy fragrances made?

zaq-oils-1Well, it really depends on the type of fragrance you’re using. The word “essential oil” has been thrown around, but that’s only one type - there are also “absolutes”, “infusions” and a few others. Each is a different way of extracting the “essence” of a fragrance from the plant or organic material. The key, of course, is to use something from nature as the base material. Synthetic smells – like chemical flavoring – don’t really play a part in aromatherapy, much in the same way a strawberry candy isn’t considered fruit. Aromatherapy scents comes from many different things; here is a brief list – we’ll explore these more in future blogs! Aromatherapy is an art and a science; it’s a complement to a lifestyle, an aid to helping you live a happy, fulfilling life - exploring the effects a smell will have on your brain is an exciting journey! Aromatherapy 101 is just the start. So take a deep breath and jump in.