Experimenting with essential oils is nothing new. These oils, extracted from plants, have become more than just a sweet smell to diffuse throughout homes — aromatherapy is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional medicine. Fighting headaches, boosting your mood and relieving anxiety doesn’t require the swallowing of a pill anymore. Essential oils are a common ingredient in your favorite products, like candles, lotion, and tea. Essential oils are not typically taken by mouth but rather can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
As we approach the thick of a Michigan winter, you may be hearing about or experiencing SAD, properly knowns as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Usually referred to as seasonal depression. This common form of depression is brought about primarily in the winter months when the days get darker sooner and our mood tends to fall as well. The lack of sunlight reduced levels of serotonin which can cause symptoms such as low energy, loss of interest and appetite, feelings of depression and drowsiness. While essential oils cannot replace a regimen prescribed by your doctor, some have found natural and holistic alternatives to curing the winter blues with essential oils.
Lavender, probably the most well-known essential oil, makes the top of this list. Commonly seen in fragrances like lotion and perfume, you probably chose it for its beautiful floral fragrance or beautiful purple color. Behind the scenes, this essential oil was working for your benefit. Renowned for its stress-relieving capabilities, lavender eases anxiety and puts your mind at rest. Rub a few drops on your wrists or temples for an instant calm. Lavender can stimulate some drowsiness, so use with caution if you’re already feeling exhausted. For a great night’s sleep, mist the lavender on your pillow and you’ll have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.
Thyme can fight the sluggishness we often feel during these dark winter months, thyme boosts your immune system and stimulates circulation. As the days become colder and flu season hits us, we need to make sure our immune system is strong enough to fight off the seasonal illness’ that can come with it. In ancient times, thyme was thought to provide courage and strength to those who used it. We could all use some courage and strength to get out and shovel the driveway, don’t you think?!
Chamomile is considered one of the most ancient herbs, with medicinal antioxidants that make this one of the most versatile essential oils. Primarily used to fight off feelings of depression, you’ve probably had it in your tea or purchased it as a candle.
Another popular herb that you’ve sipped on in your Earl Grey tea is bergamot. This essential oil has been proven in studies to reduce blood pressure and lower heart rate, easing nervousness and providing hormonal balance. Bergamot is a citrus, while oils like lavender are florals. Citrus oils are known for their uplifting powers whereas florals are turned to for those calming effects we read about.
Some other remedies for beating that seasonal depression include a daily intake of vitamin C and D, a bit of regular exercise and even sitting in front of a light-box while you work indoors. Essential oils are probably the most natural and convenient alternative. Inhaling these essential oil vapors is a great remedy for anxiety and depression. The scent travels to our limbic system, where the brain processes emotional feelings and responses. To diffuse, find an essential oil diffuser or place a few drops in your bathtub. Many of these herbs can be found in teas, candles and other fragrant products like perfume. Keep an oil or two in your bag and apply the oil topically to your wrist, behind your neck or massaged into your temples. The winter blues may have just met its match!