Stress and Relaxation

Welcome to the world of stress, an inescapable reality of modern life that has been linked to many disorders ranging from allergies to asthma, from stomach problems to heart disease.  In fact, some physicians estimate that at least 80 percent of their patients have stress-related symptoms.2c5815abf8b0852316bfabcb7eee34c6

AROMATHERAPY

To melt away stress at the end of the day and ease the transition between work and home, use clary sage and lavender, 2 essential oils that relax.

There are several methods of using aromatherapy essential oils, all of which are very enjoyable and provide a basis for ongoing good health.

Massage –  Massage has been found to be the most effective way of using essential oils.  The balancing properties of the essential oils encourage the desired response using small amounts.  Varying from the suggested strength, however, can actually result in the opposite of the intended result.  For example Lavender essential oil is relaxing but in too great a strength it is stimulating.  Similarly, a small amount of Peppermint essential oil is stimulating but used in larger quantities produces the opposite – a soporific effect.

A full aromatherapy massage is wonderful for relieving and healing stress related conditions. Back massage is very helpful because shoulders and backs often give us the first signals that we are ‘under stress’.

METHOD

  • Choose a base oil like sweet almond oil in which to blend the essential oils.
  • Fill a 10 millilitre bottle with the base oil.
  • Choose the essential oils for your blend.  You might choose for example, a mix of Lavender for relaxation; Sandalwood to release tension in the throat area; and Bergamot to uplift.
  • Mix the blend:  to get the maximum number of drops of essential oil divide the number of millilitres in the bottle by two.  For a 10 millilitre bottle this means the maximum is 5 drops of essential oil though you can use fewer than 5 for a more subtle blend.  Suggested proportions of the above would be:
  • SANDALWOOD 1 DROP, BERGAMOT 2 DROPS, LAVENDER 1 DROP  THIS TOTALS 4 DROPS, AND IS STILL UNDER THE SUGGESTED MAXIMUM FOR A 10 MILLILITER BOTTLE.

BATHING  At the start of the day – use the essential oils to stimulate your mind and protect your body for the day ahead.  Examples of these are Rosemary which will stimulate the mind and Lavender for protection of the immune system.  At the end of the day – choose oils like Geranium, Lavender or Clary Sage which will help you to unwind and relax.

METHOD

  • Run a bath which is not so hot as to cause the oils to evaporate.
  • Add 3-5 drops of essential oil.
  • Agitate the water.
  • Soak in the bath and relax for 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently dry yourself to allow maximum absorption of the oils.

COMPRESS

Soothing a troubled brow – This well-known expression refers to an important location – the brow or forehead.  Stroking the brow or holding your head in your hands links into the pressure points for emotional release located in the forehead.  Thus by stroking the brow or placing a compress with essential oils on it, the tension is eased.  The back of the neck, or aching limbs also respond well to compresses.

METHOD

  • Prepare the blend as for massage.
  • Follow first-aid procedures to make the compress and to choose the appropriate water temperature.
  • Add one to two drops of essential oil to a small bowl of water.
  • Gently lay the compress on the water.
  • Place the compress on the affected area.

INHALATION

Inhalation is good for relieving congestion, easing catarrh and soothing the respiratory tract.

METHOD

  • Pour two pints of boiling water into a bowl.
  • Add 10 drops of an essential oil indicated for the chest like Eucalyptus, Camphor or Thyme; or a blend of these essential oils.
  • Agitate the water.
  • Put a towel over your head.  Close your eyes and inhale the vapours for a few minutes at a time for up to 10 minutes or as long as is comfortable.
  • Repeat this several times a day as desired.
  • A facial steamer with 5 drops of essential oil may be used instead of the bowl

BACH FLOWER REMEDIES

This is used to work with the emotions at times of stress such as – impatience, irritability, lack of confidence, intolerance, tearfulness, lack of energy, taken too much responsibility, hard to say no, hard to change etc.

HERBAL THERAPY

Siberian ginseng tones the nervous system and increases your resistance to stress.  Take the herb in either capsule of tincture form, following the dosage recommendations on the label.

IMAGERY

Imagine that you are a feather floating in the air.  You become more and more relaxed as you drift downward toward the ground.  You finally glide to the ground, gently and softly touching down.  As you’re lying there, all stress has left your body, and you feel totally and completely relaxed.  Use this imagery for two to five minutes three times a day.

REFLEXOLOGY

An overall reflexology session, touching all of the major points of the feet, will help relax you and ward off stress.  To deal with extra tension pay special attention to the diaphragm, the spine and the pituitary, parathyroid, thyroid and adrenal gland reflexes.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL THERAPY

To help offset some of the damage caused by stress, try these daily supplements – 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium, 10 – 1—milligrams of B complex vitamins and 500 to 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C.

 

FIVE RELAXATION ENHANCERS

Stomp out the smokes – Besides increasing your risk for heart disease and lung cancer, smoking triggers the release of stress hormones in the body.  Quitting is the most important thing you can do to feel less stressed and more relaxed.

Curb the caffeine – Caffeine is stimulant that can trigger the fight-or-flight response to stress, so avoid coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and other foods and beverages containing caffeine.

Calm down with carbs – Eating grains, vegetables and fruits loaded with complex carbohydrates, such as spaghetti, baked beans and apples, can trigger the release of hormones that will help relax you.

Work up a sweat – Regular exercise is a fundamental part of any relaxation program.  It can lower anxiety, fend of depression and help increase a person’s self-esteem.  Try walking 15-20 minutes as day.

Make time for a daily chuckle – Humour is a powerful ally in your quest for relaxation.  A good laugh triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that produce feelings of euphoria.  It also suppresses the production of cortisol, a hormone released when your under stress that indirectly raises blood pressure by causing your body to retain salt.  So try to find humour in daily life.

 

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One Response to Stress and Relaxation

  1. Debbie Smallbones says:

    Thank you Ali. What a lovely rounded post on stress and relaxation. I particularly enjoyed the section of using aromatherapy oils as this is a subject that interests me but which I have limited knowledge of. The information provided under each heading is a very helpful resource to have and one which my clients would definitely benefit from knowing. The article was very clear to read and understand and thank you so much for this and I look forward to sharing relevant information with my clients.

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