Stress Level 2 — anxiety/depression, food allergies, persistent infection, subacute disease, hidden weaknesses, such as otherwise dormant viral infections;
Stress Level 3 — a complex pattern of symptoms: anything from suicidal tendencies to stomach pain, fear, withdrawal from society, and despair.
Stress is often presented as being the outcome of a person’s inability to deal with the normal pressures of life; stress is the outcome of a person having to deal with more pressure than should reasonably be expected of anyone. To relieve stress, two things need to happen: the circumstances leading to stress have to change, and a person needs to do something to alleviate their symptoms.
Human beings are designed to experience emotional problems – a certain amount of stress, which is largely regulated by the adrenal glands and the natural hormones and neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These are released directly into the bloodstream, like a shot in the arm, when we’re confronted with an emergency — in ancient times that might have been a herd of buffalo coming toward us, and today it might be a truck out of control. Either way, we need to quickly spring into action and jump out of the way. That is the normal stress mechanism at work, and it’s a good thing because it helps us survive.
But stress isn’t meant to be an everyday occurrence. What happens is that we get overloaded with the natural stress chemicals because we’re stimulated by too many stressful situations. Psychologists call this chronic situation distress, and it’s dangerous because it can contribute to physiological changes such as hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes, cancer, diabetes, and lesser problems.
Stress can arise from mental causes, such as financial pressure, exams, or work demands; from emotional problems, such as a relationship breakup; from physical pressures, such as too much driving or striving at the gym for physical perfection; from chemical sources, such as too much caffeine or drugs; and from environmental pressures, such as persistent noise on the factory floor.
You know you’ve got distress if everyday annoyances make you blow a fuse — you get angry at the slightest thing. There may be persistent doubts about being able to cope, or feelings of helplessness and being out of control. On the other hand, there are people who are under a tremendous amount of stress but who become emotionally numb to it. It may seem as if they’re coping, but physiologically they may be in turmoil.
Symptoms of stress include irritability; loss of sense of humor or memory; difficulty in making decisions, concentrating, or doing jobs in a logical order; feeling defensive and angry inside; and disinterest in large areas of life. Physical symptoms include insomnia, sweating, breathlessness, faints, loss of appetite or bingeing, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, headaches, cramps, muscle spasms, eczema, psoriasis, and sexual disinterest, but of course the biggest symptom is heart attack or stroke. Stress management is very important, and I have some advice on this at the end of this section.
The Emotional Stress Kit
The following oils could be considered the Emotional Stress Kit oils because various combinations of them would be suitable in most situations. All will be helpful to some extent, either on their own or in combinations, and have long been the basis for aromatherapy relaxation and emotional-stress-relief treatments:
As well as those above, there are certain essential oils and absolute oils that are expensive and a luxury for most but that have proven their worth in the treatment of stressful disorders time and time again, and these can be added to your personal stress kit as and when funds allow:
Rose otto (Rosa damascena)
Rose maroc (Rosa centifolia)
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Linden blossom (Tilia vulgaris/cordata)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum/officinale)
By choosing your additions to the Essential Stress Kit carefully, you can build up a set of oils that will suit all types of stress and the problems incurred because of it. However, using only the emotional stress kit oils, you can make many formulations that will suit most stressful situations. The following blends have been designed for general use with stress. Dilute 15–30 drops, as indicated, in 1 fl. oz. (30 mL) of carrier oil to make a body or massage oil.
EMOTIONAL STRESS LEVEL 1
Symptoms: tiredness, irritability, aches and pains, occasional depression
As well as the essential oils previously recommended as the Emotional Stress Kit, there’s a wider selection of oils that would also be appropriate. A full list is below; they are all in common use and easily available. They blend well with one another and can be successfully interchanged, each having properties that are useful in treating emotional stress. It’s additionally helpful to use them in methods that are themselves therapeutic — a massage, for example, or a relaxing bath. Many essential oils also seem to strengthen the immune system, which becomes increasingly weak during stressful periods.
The much-neglected eucalyptus lemon (Eucalyptus citriodora) not only has antibiotic, antifungal, and slightly antiviral properties, but it also appears to boost the immune system, has electrical properties akin to our own energetic force, and is adaptogenic — which basically means it’s subtle and adapts to our needs. All these properties make it a must for anyone dealing with stress and its harmful effects.
The following absolute oils and the essential oil of hops are terrific in their own ways when having to deal with emotional stress, and I have separated them from the main list only because they’re expensive and often diluted, making good-quality, pure oils sometimes difficult to find.
Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
Narcissus (Narcissus poeticus)
Linden blossom (Tilia vulgaris/cordata)
Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans)
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Women in Stress
I’m outlining here a few essential oils and blends for the woman who is simply overwhelmed with the number of things she has to do in any given day.
The days of women staying home and men going to work are long gone (if they ever existed), and most women today go out to work and still do everything a woman without a job is expected to do in terms of shopping, cooking, laundry, home care, child care, and care of the elderly. It can all be too much! And a man “helping” now and again doesn’t really alleviate the interminable regularity of chores, summarized by the expression “a woman’s work is never done.”
Using essential oils for relaxation is not going to help. The kids need feeding, and you lying back in a bath isn’t going to get it done. Likewise, if there’s an important meeting to attend, being super relaxed may not give the right impression. But neither will arriving as if your edges have been frayed!
When looking at the essential oils that follow, don’t choose those on the list that you’ve used before — for example when meditating, or praying, or trying to get yourself or the children to sleep. Also, any oil that for you personally has an association with relaxation should be sidelined when trying, instead, to alleviate stress.
The essential oils can be used singly, but making a unique blend can be advantageous as it’s unlikely to have any other associations that may interfere with its job as a stress reliever. Sensory memory is always something we have to think about when using essential oils for mind and emotional relief and enhancement.
Use the essential oils neat on a tissue, or in a small bottle, and inhale when needed. If you’re in a position where you can use one of the roomdiffusing methods, follow their instructions for use. Here are two blends to try, one for the morning and one for the evening:
If you’re under stress, it’s time to figure out what got you to this position and try to change it. Money, or rather the shortage of it, is a huge cause of stress — so too is doing a job you don’t like, working for a company that doesn’t appreciate you, lack of control or decision making, working long hours, and job insecurity. At home, there may be too much to do and too many people making demands.
The first thing to do is write on a piece of paper “What do I want?” and put it somewhere you can see it. Leave it there for weeks, maybe months, until you’ve figured out what the answer is. Let the empty page taunt you, but ignore it until you’re ready. What you eventually write down may surprise you, but make sure it’s from the heart. Don’t discuss this with anyone; it’s between you and the piece of paper. Be patient. See what happens.
Meanwhile, write up a list of all the activities in your life and order them in terms of priorities. The things that come at the bottom of your list, the nonessentials, can be delegated to someone else or simply deleted. Then, look at your list again and ask, “Who am I doing this for — me or someone else?” Then re-evaluate the activities. Are they really necessary? Have a long talk about your problems with someone who knows you well, and see what solutions they can come up with.
Find time to do something for yourself — an activity you enjoy but gave up because you were too busy. It could be something as simple as reading a book or listening to your favorite music.
It’s often said, and it is very true, that taking a bath with essential oils can be relaxing, so if you have a bathtub, try to make that a regular feature of your life. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are excellent ways to reduce stress. Any exercise helps to burn off stress and keep you healthy. Take up a hobby that isn’t related to work or family responsibilities — art, music, climbing, crafts — anything that gives you pleasure and takes your mind away from daily chores. Don’t feel guilty about it either — just an hour or two a week taken entirely for yourself may be a lifesaver. You need it.
Dianthus caryophyllus (Plant Family: Caryophyllaceae) Carnation essential oil Carnation, also called grenadine or clove pink, herbaceous plant of the pink, or carnation, family (Caryophyllaceae), native...