It's that time of year when faculty, administrative staff, and students of all ages from grade school to PhD candidates come back from summer break. I work at an Ivy League university by day and have relished the quiet days over the summer when most of the students and faculty are not around. I've worked in higher education since 2005 so I am keenly aware of the academic cycle and the challenges and stresses it brings each year. No matter where you are in your academic studies or carrier, you will surely encounter varying levels of stress.
Stress is one of the most popular reasons people turn to aromatherapy -- that's how I started using essential oils in 2011. Aromatherapy and stress management systems can help people identify their sources of stress and responses so that they can begin to peel back the layers in order to understand the physical manifestations of stress. Everyone reacts and responds to stress differently and it can be triggered by anything, but one you get to know your stress responses then you can learn how to navigate them.
Incorporating aromatic products as a basis of support helps to "click the reset button" on stress triggers and responses. It may be helpful for some to mindmap their stress to visually map out stress triggers, responses, and physical manifestations. When you creating a visual map to help you connect the dots between the stressors in your life, you will peel back the layers and decode your triggers, allowing you to redesign your body and mind’s responses to stress. This is an interactive approach to visualizing all of the stressors in your life and how they relate to each other. This can serve as a visual reminder to help you identify and become more self-aware of the stress in your life.
The goal of incorporating aromatherapy along with mindmapping your stress will help you to redesign your overall reactions and responses by rewiring our brains through the incorporation of aromatic products into as a mechanism to stave off stress and to overwrite responses and physical manifestations.
Aromatherapy Inhalers are a great way to target acute stress responses. They are discrete and easy to use, remove the cap and gently inhale into each nostril when feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or to feel more grounded and present throughout the day. Aromatherapy Inhalers work best when used regularly. Visit our Aromatherapy Inhalers shop.
Stress can manifest in different ways trouble sleeping, nervousness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive issues, excessive thinking, comfort eating, and retail therapy. Using aromatherapy inhalers gives you a direct inhalation experience as opposed to passive diffusion through typical aromatherapy diffusers. We don't have to be held prisoner to stress anymore.
In my last blog post, I discussed Energetic Aromatherapy for the Mind, Body, and Spirit, but wanted to take a deeper dive into exploring using essential oils to support the chakra system. Chakra loosely translates to wheel, vortex, or fields that relate to the energy centers in our bodies. The front of the body represents yang and the back of the body represents yin. Yin and Yang stem from Chinese philosophy and represent the duality of integrating opposite forces and energies. Chakras can absorb energy and information (yin) and release energy and information (yang). There are seven chakras associated with supporting the energetic aspects of the body: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown. Chakra work can be down on its own or in tandem with yoga and meditation practices.
I created a series of chakra aromatherapy inhalers and perfumes to support our energy centers to help with blockages and to restore balance in our bodies. Aromatherapy inhalers can be used to evoke the emotional energies associated with each chakra and the perfumes, oils, and balms can be used to anoint each chakra center.
Exploring subtle energetic aromatherapy compliments the traditional therapeutic applications of essential oils. We are made of energy and sometimes those energies get thrown off balance and we have to work to restore them on an energetic level beyond traditional modalities of treatment.
I've spent a lot of time studying the physical and emotional applications of aromatherapy and in doing so have become more interested in its the subtle energetic applications. Enhancing the mind-body-spirit connection embraces a holistic approach to health and wellness. You can't heal the body if the mind is in turmoil. and the spiritual body suffers from the disconnection. I am writing this as I am achieving to maintain and sustain balance in my own body as I have been suffering with a Circadian Rhythm Disorder - Delayed Sleep Phase type for some time and have feel disconnected from my emotional body, my spiritual body, and my physical body. I feel less disconnected when I am working on creating products, especially developing fragrances.
When we talk about subtle energetics, we are referring to the esoteric applications of essential oils and aromatherapy practices to deepen our connections within ourselves and our external worlds. This goes beyond the typical emotional applications for stress, anxiety, and depression.
The energetic properties of plants have been used in sacred traditions and rituals dating back to the earliest civilizations around the world. Practitioners had a deep understanding and connection with the subtle energetic properties of plant material. All matter is energy, the human body is energy, plants are energy, as are the four elements and so on. Our energies connect us - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. In our interconnected hyper frenetic world, it is easy to feel disconnected, distracted, and energetically drained.
Aromatherapy and essential oils can be used to reconnect and heal the mind-body-spirit connection. It is more common to incorporate essential oils into our daily rituals: skin care, remedies, passive diffusion, massage, perfuming, etc. Understanding the therapeutic and restorative aspects of essential oils on a holistic level can create the sacred spaces and rituals in our daily lives to reconnect within ourselves.
Energetic aromatherapy can manifest in numerous ways and it comes down to individual preferences. Recently, I created a product line of aromatherapy inhalers to address some of these subtle energetic themes in our lives. The subtle practice can include: aromatherapy inhalers, passive diffusion, massage, perfume oils or balms, ritual baths, incense, or even incorporating the subtle energies into your daily skincare routine. Many of the energetic essential oils also benefit numerous other areas. Frankincense, Sandalwood Patchouli, Helichrysum, and Rose have amazing benefits for the skin, but they can also help you to feel grounded and centered or a sense of inner peace when facing difficult emotional situations stemming from past or present trauma.
The power of aroma can work in so many esoteric ways. I invite you to pick a couple oils that you feel drawn to and sit undisturbed and experience them. Write down anything that comes to mind. How does the aroma feel? What memories does it evoke? What sounds or music do you associate with it? What colors come to mind? Does it feel warm or cool? What images come to mind? I learned this exercise while studying perfuming and it really changed my perspective on how I work with complex blends of aromas and why I am using them in a particular way or for a particular purpose
I've broken down the energetic properties to focus on a few key areas: feeling grounded and centered, dealing with emotional trauma, finding inner peace and harmony, inspiring creativity, and healing the mind-body-spirit connection.
Grounding & Centering
Working with essential oil synergies that benefit grounding and centering our minds and bodies help to prepare us for mindfulness rituals, meditation, yoga, and for managing our daily stress. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and constantly pulled in different directions as we juggle work responsibilities, families, home life, social obligations, and mundane everyday tasks. We can use essential oils to bring us back to ourselves with our feet firmly planted on the ground.
There are numerous essential oils that can help you feel more balanced. These can be combined with other essential oils with different energetic benefits based on your personal needs. If you want to work on feeling grounded while letting go and healing from emotional trauma, you might look at a blend of Rose, Patchouli, Carrot Seed, and Helichrysum.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Angelica Root, Balsam Fir, Benzoin, Black Pepper, Blue Cypress, Blue Spruce, Buddha Wood, Carrot Seed, Cassia, Cistus, Davana, Elemi, Frankincense Frereana, Frankincense Serrata, German Chamomile, Ginger, Guaiacwood, Helichyrsum Splendidum, Himalayan Cedarwood, Lemon Tea Tree, Muhuhu, Myrrh, Nagarmotha, Palo Santo, Patchouli, Plai, Rhododendron, Rosalina, Rose Geranium, Sacred Frankincense, Sandalwood, Valerian, Vetiver, and White Verbena.
We all have some manifestation of emotional trauma in our lives from the past or present. This can stem from abusive situations, grief, heartbreak, or suffering a loss of any kind. We may chose to work with medical professionals and therapists, but much of the work comes from within as we move throughout our lives in attempts to let go, heal, and thrive. If you want to work through the heartbreak and loss at the end of a relationship, you could create a synergy that helps with emotional trauma, heartbreak, inner peace, and letting go. It could include: Neroli, Helichrysum, Ylang Ylang, and Angelica Seed.
Beneficial Essential Oils for Emotional Trauma: Cistus, Clementine, Elemi, Fragonia, Galbanum, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Helichrysum Italicum, Helichrysum Splendidum, Inula, Kunzea, Myrrh, Palo Santo, and Rosewood.
Beneficial Essential Oils for dealing with Grief, Loss, and Heartbreak: Cistus, Cypress, Helichrysum, Inula, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Monarda, Neroli, Palmarosa, Rose, and Sacred Frankincense.
Beneficial Essential Oils for Letting Go, Healing, and Release: Angelica Seed and Carrot Seed
Inner peace, Harmony, and Bliss
Achieving happiness, inner peace, and harmony may seem like a daunting task, but the power of aromatherapy can uplift us when we are feeling stressed out, sad, anxious, or any manifestation of emotional imbalances. There are numerous essential oils with uplifting energetic properties such as most citrus fruits, florals, and pines.The ones listed below specifically are harmonizing, euphoric, and foster feelings of inner peace.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Bergamot, Birch Tar, Champaca, Clary Sage, Cognac, Frangipani, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Mugwort, Opopanax, Patchouli, Wormwood, and Ylang Ylang.
Creativity, Motivation, Wisdom, and Insight
Essential oils can inspire creativity and motivation as well as wisdom and insight into the creative arts whether they are for personal expression or professional purposes. They can inspire us in the same way as music, poetry, and art. Aromas evoke feelings, memories, colors, sounds, music, images, temperature and other tangible things. Since aroma is intangible, we can use it to foster inspiration in our creative pursuits.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Allspice, Amyris, Angelica Seed, Balsam Fir, Bergamot Mint, Black Pepper, Black Spruce, Blood Orange, Blue Spruce, Caraway, Cistus, Clementine, Cognac, Coriander Davana,, Dill, Fennel, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Ginger, Juniper Berry, Spanish Sage, and Star Anise.
Spiritual Awakening, Meditation, and Mind-Body-Spirit Healing:
Aromatherapy can enhance our spiritual connection to our minds and bodies and the world we live in. We can use that connection to create a sacred space for meditation rituals and healing our mind-body-spirit connection.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Birch, Buddha Wood, Cacao, Champaca, Clary Sage, Cognac, Cumin, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Guaiacwood, Holy Basil, Labdanum, Laurel, Liquidambar, Marjoram, Muhuhu, Myrrh, Nagarmotha, Osmanthus, Palo Santo, Rosewood, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Sandalwood, Sacred Frankincense, and Yuzu.
Subtle energetic work with aromatherapy can benefit the daily struggles and inner turmoil we all encounter. However, they will not "cure" any issue on their own. Energetic aromatherapy compliments standard approaches of psychotherapy, medication management (if applicable), and other forms of intervention. They can greatly enhance practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and other creative arts for healing purposes.
I'd recommend including subtle energy aromatherapy modalities to anyone wishing to add a new facet to their personal or professional practices.
The topic of using essential oils to support sobriety came up in the EO group that I am in last night and I gave it some thought as to how using essential oils could potentially help support the various symptoms and issues that arise through the journey of sobriety.
I would preface this by saying that you should consult with a medical doctor first and if detoxing from alcohol or drugs are involved – this needs to be done under medical supervision at a rehab or hospital setting – quite frankly because you can die because detoxing can cause seizures and other life threatening conditions. During the detoxification phase someone in a hospital or rehab setting will not be allowed to have things like essential oils in their possession because they could be used to smuggle in drugs or alcohol.
If the sober person is out of the detoxification phase and out of rehab or a hospital setting, they can use essential oils pretty much like any of us would use them. Some precautions may need to be taken if they have a dual diagnosis meaning that they have underlying mental health conditions, in addition to their addiction or alcoholism and may be treated with other medications. It is very important to note that grapefruit in any form should not be ingested if you are on medications because they can cause you to absorb them rapidly which can lead to some nasty side effects. I’ve had to avoid ingesting grapefruit for many years because of the bipolar/ADD medications that I am on. I can use grapefruit essential oils sparingly topically or in a diffuser without any issues.
Essential oils can help support someone living in sobriety, but cannot replace the crucial components of living sober such as daily AA/NA meetings, having a sponsor and a solid support network, psychotherapy and medication regimens if required. Always consult a medical doctor for any questions or concerns as the Internet, while it is a great source of information, can give you conflicting results.
***Please note that in some cases when dealing with things like cravings and/or severe anxiety and depression: ALWAYS call your sponsor or go to an AA/NA meeting immediately and in some cases, you may need to seek medical attention if you are in danger of using again.***
Some of the areas where essential oils can help support your sobriety will focus on liver support, emotional support, cravings, nausea, and memory issues. This is not a complete list as everyone’s experiences in sober living are different.
Liver support – alcoholism and drug addiction can cause damage to the liver over time. You can use some essential oils to support healthy liver function. These oils will also help support the digestive system as well. It is recommended that you see a medical doctor and have blood work done to evaluate your liver function from time to time.
There are many different oils that can help support the liver such as: Blood Orange, Carrot Seed, Goldenrod, Rosemary, Fennel, Thyme, Lemon, Cypress, German Chamomile, Peppermint and Juniper.
Anxiousness and Stress are common in sobriety and essential oils can help support minimizing their effects. It is recommended to see a mental health care professional if these symptoms persist and are in danger of becoming unmanageable.
Rose, Neroli, Helichrysum Roman Chamomile, Jasmine, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Lavender, Citrus Oils and many other oils can be diffused or applied topically.
Sadness can be common when dealing with a major life change like sobriety – it can often preclude the ending of some friendships, relationships and general habits. This can cause you to feel sadness and longing since you will not want to hang out at your local bars or attend parties with friends where lots of drinking may occur. As with feelings of anxiety and stress many other oils can be diffused or applied topically. It is recommended to see a mental health care professional if these symptoms persist and are in danger of becoming unmanageable.
Oils that help with sadness include: Cedarwood, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Cardamom, Jasmine, Lemon, Mandarin, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Peppermint, Vetiver, Rosewood, Neroli, Lavender, Palo Santo, Scots Pine, Clary Sage, Geranium, and many others.
Cravings - Some people do this via ingestion, but if you are not comfortable with that route of application. I would imagine that an inhaler might help too. . In addition, you may be having other symptoms like anxiety, stress, and sadness that may contribute to the cravings. Consult your support system and/or medical professionals if you are in danger of relapsing.
Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lemon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary can help with cravings.
Nausea can sometimes be an issue in the early stages of sobriety.
Ginger, Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Fennel, and Bergamot.
Sugar and caffeine cravings are common after someone becomes sober. You could minimize caffeine intake (if you are using it for the energy boost) and diffuse citrus blends or use it in a roller with other essential oils and a carrier oil like Jojoba. I personally like diffusing Peppermint and citrus oils on days that I need an extra energy boost.
Some oils can help stave off sugar cravings are: Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Coriander, Fennel, Ginger, Peppermint, Bergamot, Ocotea, and Dill as they support your endocrine system.
Memory issues can result from years of alcoholism and addiction.
Rosemary, Basil, Cypress, Peppermint, Lemon, Ginger, Grapefruit, and Sage can help support any lingering memory issues that you may be experiencing.
***Always be sure to check for any potential drug interactions for anyone who may be on methadone and other types of medications for opioid addiction as there can be serious contraindications***
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or maintaining sobriety, please seek medical attention right away – their life may depend on it.
I found myself overcome with emotions over the past month or so and found myself in need of some healing. So, of course, I turned to my essential oils collection and found a combination that really worked well for me. I diffuse the Emotional Healing combo and made a roller too for on the go.
Here are the oils that work for me. Sometimes I combine them all in the diffuser and other times I select one or two at a time.
Owner, Restorative Aromatics and NAHA Certified Aromatherapist Level One. This blog focuses on aromatherapy education and other essential oil related topics.