With urbanization, the advent of the internet, smartphones, and being constantly “connected,” the average person is rarely ever truly “turned off” and as a result, our brains and our bodies are suffering the consequences of chronic and insidious stress. This article can help you with managing stress in a holistic fashion.
We are living in a time where stress and “being stressed” is somewhat of a norm. The 2012 Stress In America Survey showed that the youngest generations of Americans are experiencing the highest rates of stress. 39% of Millennials (ages 18 - 33) reported that their stress has increased in the past year and 36% of Gen Xers (ages 34 - 47) reported the same. Interestingly, while these younger generations are struggling the most with stress, they are also the ones reporting the least amount of relief from that stress. In other words, they have not found effective ways of coping with chronic daily stress.
What Happens When We’re Under Stress?
It’s important first to differentiate between acute stress and chronic stress. When a person experiences an acute stressor that’s either physiologic (dropping a hammer on your toe) or perceptual (your company is in the middle of layoffs and you might be next), the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis 1 is activated, which causes a release of multiple hormones. Two of the most significant cortisol and epinephrine. This acute stress is not usually harmful and is sometimes even good for you. Think about an "adrenaline rush" - the energy and clarity that can occur before public speaking or a roller coaster ride. But over time, it if becomes chronic, it begins to wear away at a person. This ongoing elevation of cortisol can lead to metabolic, cardiovascular, and neurochemical changes. These changes can, in turn, cause a host of physical and psychological issues, and they go away after you have been managing stress successfully.
Aromatherapy: An Effective Tool for Managing Stress
Given the insidious nature of stress in our modern day lives, it’s incredible to have a tool that’s as easily accessible and effective as aromatherapy. There are many essential oils that can be used to unwind, but three tend to stand out from the rest. If you’re looking for a way to unplug and combat the effects of daily micro stressors, try these three:
Lavender ( Lavendula Angustifolia)
I t is no surprise given Lavender’s multitude of benefits that it is one of the most commonly used essential oils today. From skin ailments to sleep disturbances, Lavender continues to amaze with its gentle yet powerful therapeutic effect. When looking at stress in particular we see that one mechanism of action lies in Lavender's ability to calm the central nervous system. One study looked at the effect of a 3% dilution of Lavender when inhaled by nurses. The researchers found that the number of symptoms decreased by 50% in those who used the aromatherapy. This is a significant effect size for such a pleasant and easy intervention! You can find Lavender as a primary ingredient in MONQ®'s Sleepy diffuser, and as a secondary ingredient in Sexy, Happy, and Ocean.
Bergamot ( Citrus bergamia)
One of the loveliest citrus essential oils out there for boosting mood a nd calming nerves is Bergamot. Not nearly as popular as Lavender but with equal power in its own right, Bergamot is an oil that lifts spirits with its bright, cheerful scent. A small random crossover study 2 examining the effect of Bergamot essential oil paired with inhalation of water vapor and rest found that those in the treatment group had significantly lower salivary cortisol (a biological marker of stress), increased heart rate variability, and improved scores for negative emotions and fatigue compared to the control group. Bergamot is a secondary ingredient in MONQ®'s Vibrant, Sleepy, Forest, and Ocean diffusers.
Clary Sage ( Salvia sclarea)
This herby scented essential oil is most famous for being a relaxing and balancing oil. It's perfect for those days when you're running around with very little time to take breaks. A large study involving over 8,000 women found that clary sage oil was "effective in reducing maternal anxiety, fear, and pain during labor". You can find this oil as a secondary ingredient in MONQ®'s Vibrant, Happy, and Zen diffusers.
So if you're feeling stressed, why not try these three essential oils in their respective MONQ ® essential oil diffusers ? And since so many essential oils have similar actions, we also have information about a larger variety of essential oils for stress. Also, remember to allow yourself some space to unwind and take a deep breath. We all need to reset sometimes.
Do you have another essential oil that you use to relieve stress? Chances are, it's an ingredient in one of our essential oil diffusers. Tell us in the comments below!