I’ve been having a difficult week emotionally. It’s nothing major and I’ll get through it, but I’m so glad I have essential oils to help me. I hope I can inspire others to try supporting their emotional well-being too.
The way I think about emotions is that they are not something to “fix”. They are something to work through, and I don’t think of negative emotions as necessarily a “bad” thing. They’re natural, and it can be healthy to feel them and acknowledge them. It’s when they get stuck, or impair your ability to get your needs met and get through day-to day life, or when they are affecting your ability to make sound decisions, where you need an intervention.
It’s like you’re swimming in a lake or ocean and there are waves – sometimes they are small and fun to bob around on, sometimes they are overwhelming, especially if there is rain or wind to add to it. It can be easy to get swept up in it, and the more you get tossed around, the harder it is to get back to feeling yourself again.
I like to think of essential oils as a friend with a life raft. The waves might still be crashing and the wind blowing, but now here’s something that can help us catch our breath. There’s some hope. This is probably a good place to say how important human connection can be as well. Just talking to someone can be very therapeutic and can help one feel not so alone in this ocean. People who have a circle of support, even a small one, are said to be healthier and happier. So, back to essential oils. I like to think about the plants they come from as friends and say we “work with” these plants, rather than “use” them.
Emotions come and go and are a natural part of life. Sometimes negative emotions pass on their own, and sometimes they become stuck. Sometimes they become a part of us for much of a lifetime. I like to see myself as an observer of whatever I am feeling, to be curious about it, ask questions about it: “Is this depression serving me in some way?” “Wow, what is it about this that triggered this anger?” “Is this affecting my ability to do what I need to do?”
When I feel that I need to make a shift in my emotions, I often turn to essential oils. Most often I will put one to three essential oils in a diffuser. Sometimes I will use a blend in a roller-ball and massage it into my pulse points and breathe it in. Just the pleasant aromas help change my focus, and then there are the molecules reaching my olfactory bulb in my nose and connecting with my limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, memory, learning, and so much more. It is not known exactly what the mechanisms are that cause the uplift in mood or the feelings of optimism and the will to do what needs done, but the effects felt are real.
Some aromatics I’ve worked with have been Frankincense resin to help with nervous tension, Geranium to cool anger and frustration, and orange or peppermint to uplift my mood in general. For more complicated and persistent states, I sometimes create a special blend, one in particular I talk about later in this post.
Sometimes essential oils are not enough and I definitely believe in interventions like going to a therapist and/or determining if a prescription is right for you, but essential oils can be a powerfully effective complementary therapy.
There is a book called Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit by Gabriel Mojay that has helped me to create blends to address various emotional states that I have wanted to shift. In this book he writes from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine. While I don’t yet understand how this system works, I have been able to choose essential oils that have helped.
For example, one time I was feeling stuck in self doubt, I read Mojay’s perspective on various essential oils and this quote about Thyme resonated with what I was feeling:
A traditional remedy for melancholy, thyme oil’s ability to “open the chest” and revive the the Bodily Soul (P’o) benefits depressive states characterized by withdrawal, pessimism, and self doubt.
I wanted to feel more optimistic, encouraged and motivated, and I also read this about Ginger:
Ginger is therefore indicated for those who may have clear plans and good intentions, but who lack the personal drive and optimism to manifest initiative and take real or immediate action
After reading in this book how Juniper can help “drive out negative influences” I knew I needed to work with this oil too, and read more about it:
Juniper works, therefore, to break through psychological stagnation and consolidate will-power. It is suited to the individual who, feeling burdened and aloof, is deeply absorbed in their own thoughts – thoughts which revolve around worries, pressures, and unpleasant memories.
I made a blend to put in my diffuser that had equal amounts of Thyme, Ginger, and Juniper to help me through this and I was able to focus on my task of working on the next class I was scheduled to teach that week.
While someday I hope to have a better understanding of how Traditional Chinese Medicine works in relation to emotions and choosing essential oils, I know that in the meantime this book can help me, and there are many other angles and perspectives that are helpful. I also refer to course materials from Aromahead’s Aromatherapy Certification Program, as there is information on the therapeutic, energetic and emotional properties of the essential oils I studied through that program. Aromatics International, Pompeii Organics, and Stillpoint Aromatics have good information on their websites for the essential oils they sell and I refer to them sometimes.