Feeling a bit down? Not sure why? You’re not alone! Here’s how to beat the blues with aromatherapy
By Diane Small
While winter is usually associated with family, celebration, and lots of eating, it is also a time of increased sadness. And that’s especially true for this year, what with the lockdowns and all Commonly known as “winter blues,” our biological clocks are disrupted as the days become shorter.
This disruption is characterised by feelings of irritability as we long for bright, sunny days. However, this irritability has the capacity to transition into mild to severe depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, due to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain.
Winter blues may also negatively impact our productivity thanks to symptoms such as inconsistent sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, a change in appetite which can lead to weight gain, loss of libido, fatigue, and a drop in energy levels.
If these symptoms are not addressed, it could lead to a situation where we’re completely out of sync with our natural schedules, and it can make winter the most draining time of the year.
But luckily, you can beat the blues with aromatherapy. All you need to know is which scent works for what issue.
The Importance of Scent On Your Health
You may not realise it, but a lack of sunlight isn’t the only thing you’re missing in winter. The aroma of the great outdoors is vital to improving our well-being, and reminds us of the simple things we take for granted during spring and summer.
What’s more, it’s commonly known that exercise can raise serotonin levels in our brains. But what with winter and lockdowns combined, it’s getting harder and harder to do that. Which means we feel more sluggish than ever.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way all season long. Along with eating right, exercising, and exposing ourselves to light as much as possible, aromatherapy may be one of the keys to lifting our mood.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. It’s been used for centuries! When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain, where they impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
Studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions
- Improved sleep
How to Use Aromatherapy Oils
It’s super easy to use aromatherapy. In order to reap the most benefits, it’s best to inhale the oils so they can directly interact with your limbic system. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, or a combination of a few, to bath salts, a bubble bath, in hot tubs or a simple, relaxing hot bath, or use an aromatherapy roll-on as needed.
Aromatherapy lamps, candles and oil diffusers are another popular method of inhalation. You can relax in the comfort of your home or office whilst experience the aromas permeating through the air.
Just take several deep breaths, and visualise a warm beach or summer meadow, and you’ll be feeling a spring in your step before you know it.
How To Beat The Blues With Aromatherapy
As mentioned above, the blues come with a long list of associated issues. These include over eating, over sleeping, and brain fog, amongst others. Below are some tips on how to beat the blues with aromatherapy – and all the main side effects of the blues are considered here, too!
Feeling really blue? These should help bring back la vie en rose: basil, bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang.
Fatigue/lack of energy
The blues often indicate a lack of energy. Forget the coffee: if you need to pep up, inhale some rosemary, peppermint, lemon, basil, ginger, tea tree or cypress instead. It will revive each of your senses!
If you’re feeling down, you often don’t want to get out of the house. And staying still for hours and hours can lead to a drop in blood pressure, which makes you feel chilly. Of course the best way to solve this is to take a hot bath, but add cinnamon bark, cardamom seed, clove or ginger oil to the water and the feeling should continue for quite some time after you’ve dried off.
Let’s face it. When you’re feeling down, you’re more likely to be irritable. And not just in your mind – you can even get irritated skin! But these oils, when diluted in a neutral oil base, can also help reduce skin irritation caused by central heating: chamomile, marjoram, clary sage and linden berry, celery seed and rose. Add a few drops to your regular skin cream too, and see how you get on.
Head all over the place? I get that way when I’m down. I’m not as focused, and my thoughts are not as clear. To avoid this, inhale some sage, myrrh, or spruce oil whenever you feel in a cloud.
Comfort eating is a common side-effect of the blues. If you find yourself overeating or feeling bloated, try bergamot, juniper, lavender and celery seed oil. Sniff a bit directly from the bottle whenever you feel like eating.