Redefining "Self-Care:" The Use of Aromatherapy in Times of Stress
During periods of anxiety it is natural to turn to the things that bring us comfort, may that be a hobby or a loved one, or even a bad habit that we have no yet learned to break free. In these uncertain times of COVID19, as a global community, we have shared a universal empathy with one another on the difficulty of this circumstance we were all suddenly thrust into. If anyone had told us that we would be spending the spring equinox at home rather than running alongside the lakefront, Chicago would have exploded in laughter. As many of us shelter in place, we look for safety, stability, and wellness in a world that feels as if those birthrights are fleeting.
What is “Self-Care”
Often in the beauty space, the term “self-care” is diluted to face masks and bubble baths, but it can be that plus so much more. It is a holistic approach to taking care of one’s mind, body, and spirit. We are complex creatures who yearn for comfort and harmony, despite repeatedly feeling restless, uneasy, and an inability to disconnect from what brings us discomfort.
Self-care is just as much of a mindset as it is a practice. Rather than approaching it as something that sounds good in theory but is otherwise unachievable because of time or resources, understanding it as an essential practice in managing one’s health. It is more than the activities we do to distract ourselves in between tasks—true self-care is intentional.
Aromatherapy works to trigger the relaxation response that is necessary for self-care and self-preservation. It balances cortisol levels, aka the “stress hormone,” decreases heart rate, and works to ease physical irritations. It’s portable and flexible, so your self-care time can fit seamlessly into your day. (The “if I had more time” excuse is hardly applicable right now, anyway!) Breathing in the scent of essential oils activates the brain's limbic system, which, among other functions, controls your emotions.
Things to do/meditate on when using aromatherapy:
Massage on a Face Oil & Be Honest with Yourself.
Acknowledge unmet needs and see how you can work to address them. Learn what makes you feel good—what makes you feel fulfilled. Facial massage in conjunction with good skincare and calming scents enhances your mood and levels of relaxation. Work out the knots in your jaw and think kindly about how to keep it unclenched. Roses are deeply connected to the heart and help keep mindfulness at the center of all that you do. A key factor when practicing self-reflection.
Rub it into Your Hands & Create Something Beautiful.
Draw your mood; explore the shapes your body makes; aromatherapy increases those levels of creativity that help you to produce self-expressive art. Whether it is through movement or use of color, energize your mind with bright, uplifting scents and use this time to contribute to the world’s beauty amidst the chaos. Ylang Ylang oil helps strengthen the sacral chakra by stimulating creativity, as well as supports the solar plexus chakra by encouraging self-confidence.
Take that bubble bath and do that face mask, but do it with purpose. Self-care isn’t only focusing on relaxation. It’s about repurposing your time to prioritize what your body and soul wants and needs. Aromatherapy is an incredibly useful tool in practicing that mindfulness and rumination.
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