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How does aromatherapy help with anxiety?

If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not on your own. Anxiety is an incredibly common condition. In this blog, we take a look at what anxiety actually is and how aromatherapy can help. 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety ranges from mild to severe. It can be a debilitating condition that impacts the way of life of sufferers. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterised by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure”. This shows that anxiety affects our emotional as well as our physical wellbeing.

Symptoms of anxiety

If you experience anxiety, some of these feelings might be all too familiar.

  • Feeling restless and unable to keep still. Trying to focus on watching TV might feel impossible as you need to be constantly on-the-go.
  • Excessive worrying. This means you worry about every detail. Everything and anything becomes a trigger for your anxiety. 
  • Insomnia or sleeplessness. You might be struggling to nod off at night or unable to sleep properly.
  • Feeling tired and fatigued. Perhaps as a result of being unable to get adequate shut-eye. Constant worrying is also exhausting.
  • Lack of focus. When you are in a state of constant worry it is impossible to concentrate because of the stream of distracting fears.
  • Physical illness. Constant stress can have an impact on your physical body. This can cause headaches or stomach upsets.
  • Panic attacks. Sudden feelings of intense fear that can be extremely frightening.

Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. There are also different types of anxiety with different causes. 

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - this is the most common type that has no clearly defined cause. 
  • Agoraphobia - this results in people remaining in their homes through fear of what may happen when they go outside. 
  • Social anxiety disorder - this is a fear of being embarrassed in public situations. Sufferers will avoid large groups and talking to people. 
  • Phobias - these can occur about anything from balloons and buttons to snakes and spiders. Encountering the source of the fear can cause panic attacks.

§ at some point in their lives. So learning about treatment options can give you a heads up.

Anxiety treatment options

The symptoms of anxiety don’t always require treatment. Feelings of anxiety are normal and serve to protect us from danger. For example, we might feel anxious about an impending work deadline. This - hopefully! - inspires us to take action and get the job done. We also feel anxiety if faced with the threat of harm. In this case, we escape the danger by running away or preparing to fight. 

In these types of situations, our anxiety prompts us to alleviate the symptoms. But if we feel anxious at times when we are not faced with imminent danger, we might need to seek treatment. 

Some treatment options for anxiety include:

Self-help options

These are strategies we can use ourselves to treat symptoms of anxiety. 

Stop smoking

There is a strong link between smoking and anxiety-related disorders. Although smoking can seem to ease feelings of anxiety in the short term, research shows cigarette smoking may actually increase the risk of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Although giving up smoking is a difficult journey, it’s one well worth taking. 

Exercise

Plenty of studies have shown the beneficial effect exercise has for reducing anxiety. It can be a struggle to get up and moving when you are suffering from anxiety. But the rewards are definitely worth it. Anxiety builds up the levels of cortisol - the stress hormone - in our body. Exercise reduces these levels and this eases anxiety symptoms. 

Build social connections

In a landmark study, it was found that social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. People who feel more connected to others have reduced levels of anxiety and depression. To build social connections, reach out to family and friends. Try volunteering or finding local groups that interest you. Every little helps when it comes to feeling more connected.

Stress management

Learning some stress management techniques is vital for helping ease anxiety. Remember that what works for one person, might not work for you. Take some time to experiment and discover what techniques are best for you. 

Some quick tips for managing stress in the moment are:

  • Taking a walk
  • Focusing on breathing
  • Doing something creative
  • Express your feelings
  • Write a gratitude list
  • Have a shower or bath

Professional counselling or therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used for anxiety-related conditions. It works by identifying thoughts to help modify behaviour patterns. Psychotherapy is another option. Hypnosis is an alternative treatment that hacks into the subconscious mind to remove unhelpful limiting beliefs. There are plenty of alternative therapies that offer relief for anxiety. 

Medications

Anxiety medications must be prescribed by a doctor. There are a range of options including antidepressants. For more information regarding medical treatment options, speak to a medical professional. Taking medications can cause unpleasant side effects.  

How does aromatherapy work?

The scent of the essential oils work by affecting the brain. Aromatherapy is the application of these essential oils to treat the whole person. When scents are inhaled or absorbed through the skin - by aromatherapy massage - they travel to the limbic system in the brain. This part of the brain is linked with emotions. This is why some smells can make you feel great, others can make you feel terrible! Certain scents can also evoke memories.  

Aromatherapy and anxiety

How does aromatherapy help with anxiety?

Because aromatherapy is a completely natural therapy, it is a great choice for easing symptoms of anxiety. Using essential oils can help calm and soothe overactive brains. This means it helps put you into a state of relaxation and calm. Some oils are amazing for helping with sleep disturbances, while others have mood boosting qualities.   

How to use aromatherapy for anxiety

There are a number of ways you can incorporate aromatherapy into your life. The easiest way is to carry a bottle of essential oil with you. When feelings of stress or panic arise, simply inhale the scent directly from the bottle and let it work its magic. Try adding a few drops of lavender oil to a hot bath before bed to help you sleep. 

You could also use a room diffuser or a personal diffuser. At ripple+, we’ve got all your favourite nicotine-free puffs infused with beneficial essential oils. Try a ripple+ FOCUS to boost your mood, or a ripple+ RELAX to chill you out after a hectic day.

Some of the best essential oils for anxiety include:

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Peppermint
  • Valerian

Final thoughts

Remember that no single treatment works for everyone experiencing anxiety. A combination of methods might be more suitable to help ease your symptoms. Treating anxiety might involve a lifestyle overhaul. Eliminating activities that don’t bring you joy and including more self-care into your routine. This can help you feel more in control and less triggered by stressful thoughts. Whatever treatment you choose, aromatherapy is the plant-powered, all natural way to help support you with anxiety.