Aromatherapy is much more than making nice smells. It is the practice of inhaling essential oils.
Each essential oil can contain hundreds of different ‘volatile’ (easily evaporated) compounds, most of which are very compatible with the physiology of the human body.
Different oils have different properties and have certain effects when inhaled.
Aromatherapy is NOT practiced at Nottingham Therapy. However, if you do like to create a relaxing atmosphere at home or in the workplace, using essential oils can change your states of being and rid you of anxiety or panic.
Essential oils when inhaled directly effect our limbic system, the brain’s emotional centres. Therefore, inhaling them can relax you, and calm you and relieve anxiety. Never take in essential oils orally as some oils can be toxic. Also, don’t leave pure essential oils on bare skin for more than a few seconds, as you may feel a burning sensation.
An aromatherapist advised me of the following two ‘recipes’ of essential oils that are effective in calming anxiety. Use either one or the other of the two mixtures and monitor the effects.
1) Equal parts of Roman Chamomile, Bergamot and Orange.
2) 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Neroli and 1 drop Bergamot.
Once you have made the mixture of oils add to a burner of water so that the oils evaporate into the air that you breathe, or pour into a small atomiser to spray into the room where you are sitting.
For the ultimate relaxation, run a long warm bath and spray the oils mixture onto a clean sponge.
Roll the sponge gently and slowly around your neck and shoulders and along your arms. Then gently submerge yourself into the water and rinse the oils off your skin.
Do the same with legs.
Relax in the bath for a while and then wrap yourself in a warm towel on emerging from the water.
You shouldn’t feel anything on your skin, but if skin begins to feel itchy, shower off lightly without rubbing the skin and pat dry.
Our brains need a constant supply of clean, oxygen-rich blood for clear thinking, and our muscles need it for vitality. Having breathing skills enables you to alter your state (e.g. panic/ anxiety) and change unwanted mood.
Breathing exercises are about balancing the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the system.
Sometimes people think that they always need to breathe deeply and so they take large in-breaths. Doing this, however, increases the oxygen to carbon dioxide ratio, and actually makes you more aroused and it can increase anxiety.
So, if you are feeling anxious or panicky, you need to make your in-breaths moderate and your out-breaths as long and slow as possible. If, however, you are tired, lethargic, or depressed, then you do need extra oxygen. You, therefore, have large and long in-breaths and moderate out-breaths. The technique below is about using breathing to calm, when feeling anxious, panicky or upset.
N.B. Some people can experience dizziness when they first begin using breathing exercises. This is because your body isn’t used to the richer supply of oxygen. Please ensure, therefore that you are well supported when standing or sitting. If lying down, please get up gently and ensure you are steady before moving around. If you experience prolonged dizziness, please consult your GP.
- Find a comfortable place to sit (or stand while supported by a wall).
- Take a few minutes to focus on the scene that is contributing to you feeling agitated or upset.
- Hear a voice in your head shout, “STOP!”
- Drop your shoulders and breathe in through your nose, slowly, until lungs feel full.
- Raise up shoulders and continue taking breath in until lungs are full.
- Let the air out very slowly through the mouth.
- Breathe in again quite quickly, but taking in a lot of air.
- Breathe out slowly - really lengthen your exhalation.
- Breathe in again quite quickly, yet taking in a lot of air. Hold the breath and remember the unpleasant scene from step 2.
- Breathe out very slowly once again, this time hearing the voice in your head say, “LETTING GO…..LETTING GO….letting go………go……..gone………”
- Let go of tension in your chest, in your stomach.
- Focus on the scene of you letting it all go.
- Let your arms and legs relax.
- Release all tension in the jaw and forehead.
- Direct your attention to the noises outside of you, i.e. in the room, or outside of the room.
- 1. Sit on the floor with your back close up against a sofa or armchair.
- 2. Extend legs out as far as is comfortable.
- 3. Breathe in, and lift arms and place hands behind head, locking fingers together.
- 4. Breathing out, gently lean backwards over the seat of the chair or sofa so that you are stretching out the chest and abdomen. Slowly bring elbows out to the side to increase the stretch.
- 5. Breathe in and return to upright position.
- 6. Release hands. Breathe in, and then on the out-breath, take the right hand down to the left foot.
- 7. With the whole hand, grip the left foot on the outer side, just below the little toe.
- 8. Move around until this is stretching the hard-to-reach muscles in-between the shoulder blades.
- 9. Continue breathing in a relaxed and natural way and hold the stretch for a count of 10 - 15, and then release.
- 10. Switch sides, taking hold of the right foot with the left hand and stretch and hold in the same way.
- 1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position that you can maintain without straining for about 15-20 minutes.
- 2. Wriggle about and get comfortable.
- 3. Stretch out your fingers on your hand and then let them drop loose again. Clench fists and then release. Stretch your fingers out wide again. Drop them and loosen. Clench fists, and then release.
- 4. Bend your elbows and tense up your arms. Squeeze your biceps. Stretch out your arms, and twist them so that you tense up your triceps. Drop your arms down and let them relax. Repeat.
- 5. Slowly move your neck to the left. Hold. Squeeze your eyes tightly shut and then release. Slowly turn your head back to the centre. Stick your tongue out to your chin. Put your tongue back in and then stick it out to touch your nose, and return into your mouth. Slowly turn your head to the right and hold. Squeeze your eyes together tightly and wrinkle your nose. Release and slowly turn your head to the centre. Repeat.
- 6. Lower your eyebrows into a frown. Relax your forehead. Raise your eyebrows. Relax.
- 7. Open your mouth and gently move your jaw from side to side. Close mouth. Smile, hold, and then relax your face.
- 8. Shrug your shoulders up and hold. Drop them down again. Gently tilt your head from side to side. Push your shoulders further down. Lift up into a shrug again. Drop down and push down further. Release them back to a relaxed position.
- 9. Take in a very deep breath through the nose. Notice how the breath goes right down into your lower lungs and lifts your ribcage. Slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat three times.
- 10.Tense in your stomach muscles in as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of five, and then tighten further. Hold for five. Tighten again and hold for three. Relax. Breathe in fairly slowly and extend your stomach as you do so. Release the air by breathing out again.
- 11.Squeeze your right buttock tightly, and then keeping that held, squeeze the left buttock. Release both. Now tightly squeeze the left buttock and hold. While holding the left buttock tightly squeeze the right buttock. Release. Tighten buttocks together and hold. Release. Squeeze and tighten and hold. Release.
- 12.Straighten out your legs and tighten your thigh muscles and lock the knees. Hold briefly and release. Twist feet outwards, tighten again and hold briefly. Release and bring back to centre. Point toes away from face, gently bring back to relaxed position. Then, bring toes up towards your knees, while keeping legs straight, hold and then relax. Point toes away from face, hold for five, and then release.
- 13.Take in a very deep breath through the nose. Notice how the breath goes right down into your lower lungs and lifts your ribcage. Slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat twice.
- 14.Lift up arms one by one and gently shake from the wrist.
- 15.Extend legs one by one and gently shake from the knee.
- 16.Slowly stand up and shake out one arm and then the other, from the elbow.
- 17.Gently shake one leg and then the other, from the hip.
- 18.Tilt head gently from side to side. Rotate head slowly, in clockwise direction, twice.
- 19.Lift head and straighten back, focus eyes ahead and give one reason why you are now glad that you are calm.
- 20. Move forward and continue with your day.