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Health & Wellness

How to Balance a Happy and Pain-Free Life

Is it realistic to have a goal of a happy and pain-free life? To answer that, let’s turn it around a bit and rephrase the question. As an example, it is unrealistic to expect your entire life to be free of pain or unhappy moments. After all, there is always the yin-yang, darkness/light, good/bad balance to consider. To illustrate that point, just consider adopting a pet. Whether it is a turtle, goldfish, dog or cat, we open our hearts to loving and caring for them. Yet, in most instances, we outlive them. So, we enter the relationship knowing that there will be pain involved, but we know that the love and memories will outweigh the pain.

So, life is never entirely pain-free or 100% happy.

However, it is entirely reasonable to set yourself a goal of limiting the amount of pain you must manage; and aiming to be happy (or happier) is a good starting point.

woman happy on beach Happiness and Pain – Where Do They Overlap?

For centuries, human beings have known that there are links between happiness and a general sense of well-being. Most of us would agree that we can perform life’s demands better if we are in a good mood and living without a lot of pain. A headache, body ache, stomach ache or even emotional pain can be distracting and interfere with daily life and requirements.

So, we do what we can to reduce pain by exercising, eating a good diet and even using stress relief tactics to keep our bodies and minds at peace and happy. Yet, there is more we can do.

Our bodies contain memory cells that can cause us to experience aches and pains improperly. Rather than under-reacting to pain, though, these cells malfunction and cause issues like chronic pain.

There is also a concept of the “barrel effect”, a theory that asks us to see all of the stresses in our lives as being contained in a single barrel or bucket. The closer that bucket is too full, the worse our bodily reactions to additional stress. It makes sense since the barrel or bucket that overflows is usually contained in a body that is overwhelmed by physical, emotional, and mental stresses.

So, the best course of action you can take if you want a happier, pain-free life is to explore what is causing you to feel stress and recognize how this might be a source of bodily pain. The symptoms of stress and the ways people experience chronic pain are directly aligned. And as one physician quoted in the report so clearly explained, “there’s no end to the things that can cause a person stress because [it’s] as varied as people are. Whatever the cause, the effect on the body can be serious if left unmanaged.” 1

When stress is out of control, bodily pain can be too. Stress also suppresses and submerges your sense of happiness; losing it in a fog of worry, physical tension, and unfocused thoughts. Thus, focusing on stress reduction is your key to enjoying a happy and even pain-free (for the most part) existence. And this is where the use of essential oils can really play a key role.

essential oils in bottles Essential Oils to the Rescue

We like to emphasize the tremendous importance of terpenes. These are “naturally occurring substances produced by a wide variety of plants and animals.” 2

And though scientists look at them with hopes to find effective treatments for cancer, as well as some of the most effective anti-inflammatories, anti-viral agents, antimicrobial compounds, anti-fungal agents, and antiparasitic compounds. They are also effective as analgesics or pain relievers.

A 2017 report from the International Journal of Molecular Science took an in-depth look at the “Analgesic-Like Activity of Essential Oil Constituents” 3 and explained the “therapeutic potential” of essential oils, indicating their use for the treatment of disease and as analgesics (pain relievers).

Yet, the report focused more on terpenes. As some of the plant kingdom’s best built-in defenses against environmental stressors, it is also terpenes responsible for the powerful aromas in the most potent aromatherapy oils. Sage, lavender, bergamot …their unforgettably relaxing, soothing and healing aromas are due to terpenes.

Science has also backed up the fact that these compounds are able to cue certain responses in the human body. It is why more than 55,000 terpenes have been formally cataloged and are under constant study. The most commonly emphasized include terpenes such as linalool, eugenol, menthol, borneol, sabinene, pulegone, myrtenol, neral, nerolidol, farnesol, limonene, anethole, citral, geranyl acetate, lavandulyl acetate, methyl eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, thymol, citronellal as well as citronellol, and vanillin, among others.

What are they finding? One report said this: a “terpene-rich environment has potential anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective effects on human health… there is a dual-route by which terpenes can have a therapeutic benefit… people benefit from inhaling terpenes because our olfactory system, or sense of smell, is tied to emotional centers in the brain, thus having a positive effect on our mood… terpenes also act directly on brain cells to modulate their activity.” 4

If you just had an “aha!” moment, you are like millions of others. Not only can their soothing scents become associated with calm, peace, relaxation and a sense of happiness, but they are also great for training our brains to overcome chronic pain.

Using aromatherapy treatments is a way to enjoy a happy and a pain-free life. There are certain aromatic (i.e. terpene) profiles that work best and often combinations of essential oils may yield even better outcomes. A particularly good blend for those who wish to induce a state of happiness would include these:

    • Fennel – With its ability to soothe a digestive upset, it is also an aromatherapy remedy that balances and creates positive energy

    • Thyme – This is a stimulating aromatic with benefits to the circulation and powers of concentration. It soothes and calms and is ideal at overcoming irritability

Our bodies all react to pain and upset differently, but we all manifest these things like stress. When you can reduce stress, you boost happiness and find it easier to manage and/or overcome pain. Can you lead a pain-free and happy life? When you focus on stress reduction through the use of aromatherapy, you’ll find yourself closer to that goal!

Photo credits: DeanDrobot/, colors/, LuckyBusiness/

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