Wellbeing extends beyond the physical. Psychological and spiritual wellness is also important to assist in coping with the stresses of everyday life.
Aromatherapy, Chromotherapy and Crystals are just a few of the ‘alternative’ therapies that can be combined with the more traditional wellbeing experiences to achieve a fuller sense of relaxation or stimulation.
In this Wellbeing mini-series, we first take a look at Aromatherapy in more detail and will cover Chromotherapy and Crystals in future blog posts.
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” Helen Keller
Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils to promote physical and psychological wellbeing. Essential oil is the liquid distilled from the aromatic substances within various parts of a plant, which contains its healing properties.
Smell is a very powerful sense. It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulate the section of the brain that is connected to smell, which in turn sends a signal to the section of the brain that controls emotions and memories. This causes the release of chemicals which can relax or invigorate you. The mind is an important healing tool and can strongly influence your health and wellbeing. One of the more significant aspects of aromatherapy is that the odour is pleasing to the user, as pleasure is an essential part of enhancing our feeling of wellbeing.
Some of the more commonly used essential oils include Lavender, Pine Needle, Lemon, Peppermint and Eucalyptus. These are used to calm or invigorate, heal and balance. For example, Lavender is perfect to help relax and calm any fears. Eucalyptus and Pine Needle help to find relief from infections, coughs and colds and also relieve aches, pains and fatigue. The citrus oils are uplifting and refreshing, helping with depression and anxiety.
Most oils have antiseptic properties and can fight infections and bacteria. They can also stimulate the immune and circulatory systems and aid digestion and work on the energy system of the body. The cost of essential oils can vary greatly depending on the rarity of the plant. Factors such as the country of origin and growing conditions can also affect the price.
When relaxing in a sauna add a few drops of essential oil to the water before it is sprinkled over the stones or add some fresh or dried herbs to a bowl of water suspended above the heater. As the herbs heat up their aroma is released gently into the air. Choose an oil to enhance or complement your mood. Essential oils work particularly well in steam rooms as the oil is gently infused into the steam, filling the room with your chosen fragrance.
Aromatherapy is not restricted to inhalation. Oils can also be applied directly to the skin by an aromatherapist, where they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. There are many excellent websites that can give detailed information regarding aromatherapy and how it can be used to benefit our personal wellbeing. It is always advisable to obtain advice from a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using essential oils, particularly if you are pregnant or have medical problems.