Five Things: Aromatic Stress Relievers

I give up today. There are very few days that I mentally tell myself things like this, because I don't ever believe that I actually give up. But today, oh man, it was not my best. Everything seemed to be going wrong - from the cab driver who almost ran me over (it was a red light for him, by the way) to the internet at work which just did not want to work consistently throughout the day (blah, spent the whole day frustrated). All the little things just kept piling up until just now, when I spotted Shep's dried cat vomit under my bed from what must have been immediately after I left my apartment for work this morning. And I saw it, and I tossed the towel in. Universe, you win.

What I'm most looking forward to now that I've cleaned up the Shep vomit is getting into a detox bath later tonight, and adding in some lavender oil to calm my nerves down. I've been getting more experimental with different scents in my detox baths (read more here), but my best bet for stress relief at the end of a long day will always be lavender. Oils like these have been around since ancient Egypt, where essential oils were crafted by soaking things - flowers, bark, leaves, etc. - in oil, and then straining that oil through linen to isolate it. What's created from this process is something highly therapeutic with applications for pain relief, emotional distress, easing anxiety, and more.

So what makes an aromatic so effective? It's because there are over 50 million olfactory receptors in the nose that sync up with the Limbic System in the brain, which controls - among other things - emotions. There are a number of different scents that one can use when it comes to stress relief and restoring mental balance, many of which are found in perfumes like cedarwood, jasmine, rose, and one of my personal favorites, ylang ylang. Lavender is especially cool, though, because of it's unique ability to calm while also stimulating you to be more alert. I use it most frequently in my detox baths because of this balance, and it certainly doesn't hurt that it smells divine (said while singing, that's how lavender makes me feel inside).

Because oils can be so effective, there are many who suggest to only let your holistic professional dictate your daily regimen with them. Which makes sense, since the professionals have been taught specifically which oils help and in what dosages - so I generally follow a rule of never applying straight oils onto my skin and really only adding 100% pure oils into diluted baths in very small amounts. For those moments, though, when you're not at home and you really need a mental break, I've been swearing by some of my trusted brands' pre-made aromatic stress relievers. I wanted to share the wealth to all my other anxiety-ridden hippies who freak out at work, so here are my top five!
1. Clear Mind Tension Remedy Oil from H. Gillerman ($48). For those of us who sit hunched over at our desks, grimacing at passive aggressive e-mails and building up tension with what aromatherapist Hope Gillerman calls "mental fatigue," this mixture is for you. This travel-friendly guy has a hint of peppermint and is a cure for stress-induced headaches. Simply roll onto your wrists and take a few good whiffs. The newly discovered calm will stay with you - and if it doesn't, just apply a bit more.

2. Stress Fix Concentrate from Aveda ($24). Circling back around - if you like lavender, you'll definitely love this one. A miniature rollerball from Aveda, it's ideal for throwing into your purse for easy everyday access. Not only do you get the stress-relieving scent, but it's recommended that you roll it firmly over your pulse points, like your wrist, take a whiff and then massage it into your shoulders and upper neck. Quick little neck-massage ritual at work? Yes, please.

3. Deep Breathe Balm from Buddha Nose ($24). I'm so very obsessed with balms right now, and this is no exception. Whenever you're starting to feel anxious, and your breathing gets shallow and tight, this is an amazing trick to bring you back to your calm center. The balm mixes scents of lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary to enhance the internal feeling of relaxation and can even sooth congestion and sinus irritation. Massage into your hands and smell 'em a few times (inhaling deeply, duh), then back to work.

4. Aromatic Stress Treatment from Tata Harper ($80). I can't say enough about Tata Harper's line. First of all, it's 100% natural, so you know it's legit. This aromatic stress reliever may be one of my favorites from the entire collection because of it's ability to soothe, uplift and promote almost immediate relaxation. A few of the scents in the mix include floral Neroli, which is said to alleviate panic attacks, and Frankincense, which relaxes the mind. And, bonus! Small enough to fit in your smallest clutch.

5. Anxiety Zapper from Sumbody ($15). Another roll-on option for those of us out there reliving the 90's, this mixture of herbs and essential oils is created to calm nerves and restore peace to your body and your mind. Just apply the scent to your pulse points, your temples, neck, and chest, and enjoy the benefits while the rest of your coworkers live in the chaos.

What do you think? Do you use aromatics or essential oils? Tell us which ones are your favorites in the comments below or via e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com!

For more reading on aromatics, essential oils, and how to use them: 
- Natural Living Ideas 
- Health Status
- Natural News
- Spry Living

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