Depending on the situation, it usually starts at the centre of my neck. Muscles tighten, my shoulders hunch up towards my ears… my jaw begins to clench and pop. Teeth grinding, stomach churning, palms sweating. Stress and anxiety present themselves differently in each and every one of us, but I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced these symptoms — or something like them — at some point yourself. We’re a society of chronic stress, an awful fact, and what makes it even worse is that many of us don’t even realize that we’re affected by it. We go about our lives, accepting that twisted jaw and knotted stomach as an inevitability, something to live with, but slowly, that secret — or not-so-secret — stress might just be killing us.
Your body is trained to react to stress in many of the same ways it reacts to a perceived threat. Theoretically, a mountain of bills (or hey, our taxes) may seem far less scary than running from a wild animal, but our bodies don’t see the difference. While we may not be constantly under attack by outside forces, dealing with your day to day life can be enough to make your body feel as though it’s fighting a battle. While vastly different, each stressful situation, whether life-threatening or simply inconvenient, triggers a fight or flight response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. Adrenaline increases blood pressure and boosts your energy supplies, while cortisol releases a surge of glucose into the bloodstream, curbing certain functions that wouldn’t be productive in a dangerous situation and even altering your immune system. Yes, all that can happen from just looking at a packed calendar and feeling stressed out, or thinking about an upcoming test. If you’re chronically stressed, this means your body is reacting this way all the time, which can translate to some serious health risks, including:
- High blood-pressure
- Weight gain
- Increased anxiety
- Hormonal imbalances
Scary stuff indeed. Which is why we need to work towards eliminating — or at least decreasing — our stress, whether chronic or not. What is causing you anxiety? What’s stressing you out? How can you work towards eliminating those situations in your life, or at least work towards lessening their effects.
While chronic stress and anxiety should be assessed by a professional, something that always helps me decompress and de-stress is scent. Scent is an extremely powerful thing. It can conjure memories both good and bad, excite us, soothe us, even encourage us to sleep. Today I’m sharing an essential oil blend that should ease a troubled mind and put nerves to rest.
Dark glass roll-on vial or dropper bottle (dark glass protects against sunlight)
20 drops patchouli essential oil
30 drops cedar wood essential oil
25 drops lavender essential oil
30 drops ylang ylang essential oil
20 drops bergamot essential oil
Jojoba oil (optional)
Combine all the oils in the glass vial. Depending on the size of the bottle, the liquid won’t likely fill it. You can leave as-is or dilute with the jojoba oil to create a moisturising oil for hands and body.
Rub a few drops between your palms and breathe in the scent deeply for an instant calming effect in stressful or anxious situations.
Add a few drops to warm bath water for a soothing, stress-relieving bath.
Add a few drops to your body moisturiser and apply as you usually would (avoiding the face).
Mix with 1 part water, 1 part plain witch hazel and add to a spray bottle to create a relaxing room spray (avoid spraying on light fabrics).
Patchouli: A natural anti-depressant and sedative. Stimulates the release of serotonin, lifting the mood and easing fears and anxieties.
Cedarwood: Eases nervous tension and stress-related disorders and can be used as a sedative, promotion restful and restorative sleep.
Lavender: Relieves restlessness and exhaustion, promoting relaxation and calm.
Ylang Ylang: Lowers blood pressure and bolsters the nervous system, reducing stress on the nerves and repairs past damage.
Bergamot: Reduces pain and nervous tension, easing sleeplessness, high blood pressure and even helping symptoms of depression.
I carry a bottle of this with me while travelling to ease stress and anxiety on long flights (love travel, hate flying) and keep it close by to calm my mind throughout a busy day.
How do you destress?