Many of us have experienced ups and downs recently, from the uncertainty caused by a global pandemic and various lockdowns, to changes in our home, work, and social life; chronic stress has been at an all-time high, which is why it’s no wonder we’re scrambling for remedies that help us get back to our best self – and even better when the remedy is natural and plant-powered…
Essential oils are one of the oldest natural healing tools that can transform your mood, energy, and wellbeing. With many of us preferring a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing, we’re turning to essential oils to boost productivity and focus, increase energy, find balance and rejuvenation, or help us to feel more relaxed.
How do essential oils work?
“The sense of smell – olfaction – is our most primitive sense and one of the most powerful senses that cannot be deactivated. It is the strongest of all our five senses, and the one most tied to our memories and emotions,” says Tim O’Brien, natural health expert and founder of The Healthy Place.
Cindy Maricle, essential oil expert at Young Living Essential Oils says, “The aromas of pure essential oils stimulate the limbic system which is where we store memories and their associated emotions. So uplifting, high vibrational frequency essential oils not only create a pleasant aroma, but they also invoke a strong positive association deep in our brains!”
Affecting the central nervous system directly, particular smells can regulate our hormones. The limbic system controls our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing; all physical signs that alter when we feel a particular emotion. In short, we can hack our nervous system to change our vibe with the power of aromatherapy. An altered state of mind without coffee, sugar, or medication? We’re here for it!
How to use essential oils
For instant aromatherapy when you need a quick fix or are out-and-about, roll your chosen essential oil on your wrist or temples (but be careful – some potent mixes can burn the skin) or just a quick sniff from your favorite scent can transform your energy in an instant.
To change your vibe at home, drop some essential oil into your diffuser and indulge in the joyous scent wafting through your house. To feel more centered in your yoga or meditation practice, add grounding sandalwood or cedarwood. Pop in an uplifting scent like sweet orange if you’re feeling down, or use spa-favorite lavender to help you unwind.
For a more indulgent ritual, steam your face over a bowl of hot water with some drops of essential oil for at-home spa vibes, or enjoy a massage for a full sensorial experience to help you feel rejuvenated.
Transform your mood & energy
O’Brien identifies that there are, “Eight dominant factors of mood are affected by fragrance: irritation, depression, stress, apathy, happiness, sensuality, relaxation, and stimulation.”
Whether you’re looking for a remedy to get out of bed in the morning, to combat falling asleep at your desk (we’ve all been there), or slow down racing thoughts at night – whatever the concern, we’ve got it covered in our rundown of the best essential oils for every mood.
1. For relaxation, anxiety & blissful sleep
We’re all experiencing more stress and anxiety than ever before. Long working hours, social media, climate change, and the pressure to have it all are affecting our mental health with knock-on effects like lack of sleep and gut issues.
If you’re struggling with racing thoughts, anxiety, or have trouble drifting off, Tara Gangadharan, aromatherapist, and founder of Thara Sacra shares her favorite wind-down scents. “When I am looking to relax, I love to use scents derived from florals or woods. The aromatic energy of florals like lavender or rose is soft and emotionally supportive while wood aromas like cedarwood, evoke a protective and stabilizing energy that is calming and soothing.”
Rose can reduce adrenaline and the fight-or-flight response by up to 40%. More calm-inducing scents include frankincense, vetiver, and chamomile. Plus, ylang-ylang reduces anxiety while boosting self-confidence – one to use on your next date night!
2. To increase your energy & happiness
If you’re missing your va-va-voom or suffer from depression, choose products with citrus ingredients that wake you up and boost your mood, leaving you ready to tackle the day ahead with more zing. “For uplifting scents, I often reach for citrus aromas. The aroma released when peeling a sweet orange is fresh, juicy, and bursting with life and immediately brings a smile to my face,” shares Gangadharan.
Aside from our favorite zesty fruits, reach for bergamot, cinnamon, ginger root, juniper berry, pine, and thyme to feel more energized.
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3. To increase concentration & feel more focused
If you’ve got a big day ahead of you – perhaps a test, big work presentation, or an important meeting – keep your eyes on the prize with scents that help you zone in.
“When I need something to wake me up and focus my energy I almost always reach for peppermint or rosemary. Both are strong aromatic herbs and give a bit of a jolt to awaken your senses.” Rosemary is also great for the upper respiratory system, to relieve brain fog, headaches and improve memory, while peppermint can ease the digestive system. Eucalyptus and basil oil also help you to feel more switched on to avoid that pesky procrastination.
Transform your mood, the natural way
We often reach for a caffeine fix or sugar rush to increase our energy; medication or vino to help us to relax and drift off, but all of these substances can cause damaging stress on our body, including exasperating the symptoms we’re trying to solve. Essential oils are the safe, sustainable route to mood-hacking with no crash, slump, or dry mouth in sight.