We all have a different capacity when it comes to stress. It’s a combination of genetics and childhood environment which shaped our resilience. Whenever you fill your “container” you get symptoms of stress and anxiety. The goal of stress reduction is to reduce the “volume in your container”. We can do this chemically or with herbs and essential oils from plants. Stress management is the idea that you can increase the volume of your container by actively working on rewiring your brain by changing the neuropathways and how your brain perceives stress triggers.
Some of the ways of stress management are:
- Time in nature
- Nerve tonics
What is Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotional response to perceived danger and most of us experience moments of anxiety on a regular basis. It is classified as a syndrome or disorder when anxiety becomes chronic and leads to a decline in a person’s function or quality of life. Anxiety is characterized by uncontrollable feelings of nervousness, panic and fear.
Panic disorder: Feelings of terror that strike and repeatedly without warning. Symptoms include sweating, chest pain, heart palpitations (unusually strong and irregular heartbeat) that make the person think he or she is “loosing it.”
Specific phobias: intense fear or specific object or situation, such as spiders, heights or flying, with the level of fear inappropriate to the situation.
Social anxiety disorders: overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.
Generalized anxiety disorders: excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, with little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Cold sweats
- Feeling faint
- Constant feelings of stress
- Dry mouth
Anxiety Associated Health Issues
- Addictions (alcohol, drugs, smoking)
- Heart disease
- Fibromyalgia (widespread muscle pain and tenderness)
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (that is about 18% of adults)
- First came into usage in 1960 and became some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world.
- It cannot be used for greater than 2-4 weeks and yet Benzodiazepines are often prescribed on a long-term basis.
- They impair a patient’s ability to benefit from psychotherapy. Some studies show that many patients developed agoraphobia and panic attacks when they did not have them previously. Daily users are also at an increased risk of developing delusions and hallucinations.
- Benzodiazepines are not without cognitive risks: they result in short term cognitive impairment and at times amnesia; it takes up to 6 months for many individuals to recover from cognitive impairments and in some individuals these impairments can be permanent. A recent study shows that individuals who had used Benzodiazepines for greater than 3 months had a 51% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Many more risks are associated with Benzodiazepines and it would take many pages to write about them all.
Holistic Strategies for reducing Anxiety
- Deep Breathing exercises
- Use herbs, essential oils and nutritional supplements
Aromatherapy for Anxiety
Essential oils can relieve anxiety, reduce or relieve stress, reduce muscle tension, encourage deep breathing and help with other symptoms that may arise (insomnia, nausea, fatigue, etc)
Essential oils can be inhaled directly from the bottle, from the palm of the hand. Diffusing them into the room is also a perfect way of using essential oils. Some studies show that it’s most effective to diffuse essential oils for 10-20 minutes in an hour instead of continuously diffusing them. Baths are also a great way of using essential oils for anxiety and stress, especially for cold climate areas. I personally absolutely love salt baths with essential oils on a regular basis as it really helps me to relax, get rid of pain and inflammation. Essential oils can also be massaged into the skin for relaxation, stress and anxiety relief. An exception would be an individual that has a negative memory based associated with a specific essential oil. Such oils should be avoided in treating anxiety.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is probably one of the most used essential oils in the world. It is beneficial for anxiety symptoms such as hypertension, heart palpitations (from anxiety), tachycardia, stress related digestive upsets, muscular aches, pain and tension, restlessness insomnia, stress, shock, migraines, neuralgia. Buy Lavender Essential Oil Now
Magnesium depletion can cause irritability, irregular heartbeat, nervous heartbeat, nervous fatigue symptoms, muscle spasms. Adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salt with about 10 drops of essential oils is a good idea to help both with magnesium deficiency and to enjoy anxiety-reducing benefits of essential oils. Magnesium nutritional supplement is beneficial for those who are magnesium deficient. Can you overdose on magnesium? Diarrhea is a symptom of magnesium overdose. You’d have to take a lot of magnesium to have more serious consequences.
Roman Chamomile essential oil is great for stress, tension, anxiety and insomnia. It can be diffused and added to Epsom salt bath. Buy Roman Chamomile Essential Oil Now
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil has a unique chemistry. Usually citrus essential oils are uplifting, and Bergamot has some components that make it more of a sedative essential oil. Perfect combination for stress-related conditions is Bergamot with Lavender and Roman Chamomile. Buy Bergamot Essential Oil Now
Other Essential Oils
Orange essential oil is another essential oil that helps with insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness and irritability. Melissa essential oil also helps to relieve anxiety related symptoms. Ylang ylang is one of the top oils used in blends for stress and anxiety. Buy Essential Oils Now
Written by Lena Isayev, B.A., C.A.
Easley, T., S. Horne. (2016). The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine Making Guide. Berkely, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal: Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Tenney, L. (2007). Today’s Herbal Health. Orem, UT: Woodland Publishing.