Take a deep breath. What do you smell?
Freshly-cut grass? A bouquet of roses? Chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven? If you’re smelling something good right now, you already know the positive effects a certain scent can have, but you don’t have to wait until a certain time of year or start baking to reap the benefits.
Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years in some form or another. Typically, aromatherapy is practiced with essential oils, the extracted essence of a particular plant. Inhaled scents are thought to stimulate the brain and produce a variety of benefits, like improving mood, boosting energy, and promoting sleep.
No matter what mood or emotion you’re looking to induce, chances are there’s an essential oil that can help. To get started, here are some popular uses for aromatherapy and the scents that are said to yield the best results:
- To alleviate stress or give your mood a boost: bergamot, orange, lemon
- To energize or improve concentration: rosemary, peppermint, clary sage, grapefruit
- To relax or sleep better: lavender, lemongrass, sandalwood
- To soothe a cold or purify the air: eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon
- To set a romantic mood: jasmine, rose, vanilla, ylangylang
Once you identify the right scents for you, it’s time to put them to use. There are a lot of options when it comes to practicing aromatherapy with essential oils. The easiest way is simply to open the bottle and deeply inhale the scent for a few seconds. This alone is said to trigger the brain and induce the benefits of the scent. Essential oils can also be used in a diffuser (a device specifically made for aromatherapy), in a pot of hot water, or in homemade cleaning solutions and air fresheners.
Kick your self-care up a notch by making aromatherapy part of your bath or shower routine. Just be sure to mix essential oils with a carrier oil (like almond, coconut or jojoba oil) before adding them to bath water or applying them to the skin. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, most cannot be used directly on the skin or near the eyes. Use about two drops of purse essential oil to one or two ounces of carrier oil.
Have some fun with aromatherapy and give these two simple do-it-yourself recipes a try!
ENERGIZING ROOM SPRAY
6 tablespoons of water (preferably filtered)
10 drops of orange oil
10 drops of peppermint oil
1 tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol (helps the oil and water mix but can be omitted)
Place the alcohol into a small spray bottle. Add the essential oils and shake well. Add the water and shake gently. You can double or triple the recipe, but if you’re planning to store some, use a glass spray bottle. Some oils can break down plastic over time. You can also tailor the scents to your tastes or the mood you’re looking to induce.
RELAXING BATH SALTS
1 cup Epsom salt
¼ cup sea salt
¼ cup baking soda
1 tablespoon of coconut or almond oil
5 drops of lavender oil
5 drops of eucalyptus oil
Mix all ingredients in a glass jar. Stir well, until oils are well combined. Add a handful to your bath water or a foot soak.