Aromatherapy for the emotional impact of ME/CFS

I first looked into aromatherapy during my first illness. Sceptical but clutching at straws I was amazed by how effective it was at providing some emotional relief when dealing with the difficult emotional impact of this illness. It also provided me with a sense of indulgence, an opportunity to treat myself, a sensual pleasure when many other pleasures were out of reach.  I enjoyed learning about the properties of the different oils and experimenting with different blends. I found it to be an enjoyable, low energy outlet for my creativity. I mixed massage oils to give away to friends and with the help of a friend I also made candles as presents, all the time trying to imagine which scents would best suit the character of the recipient. Since then my interest in aromatherapy has waned a little. Essential oils have continued to be a regular part of my life but I haven’t been using them quite so creatively, I got stuck in a rut of just using a few faithful friends. But focusing on writing my self-help book has reminded me of how helpful they can be and I’ve taken great pleasure in revisiting aromatherapy and being a little more creative again.

There are many different ways this condition can impact on our emotions. There’s the whole process of grieving for the life we once lived. There’s the frustration of not being able to do things or play a useful role in our family life or society. We can get lonely when we can no longer enjoy a social life. We can get fed-up of just constantly feeling unwell. We can get tetchy when we’re exhausted. We can get anxious when we can’t trust our mental functioning or when we don’t know why we’re getting worse. These are all natural and normal and just part of being human. However sometimes these feelings become too big, or we get stuck with them, or they just go on for too long and we need some relief. Sometimes our brain chemicals get knocked out of balance. Aromatherapy can help restore this balance. It can soothe, relax, uplift and unblock. It can help us flow through our emotional processes more easily.

When using essential oils to combat difficult emotions it is helpful to examine your feelings carefully. To tackle them effectively you need to get a sense of their flavour then you can match it with the most appropriate oil you’ve got. When you’re feeling depressed are you feeling angry? Frustrated? Anxious? Hopeless? Helpless? Grief? Lonely? When you are feeling stressed are you feeling overwhelmed? Exhausted? Nervous? Panicky? Do you want to be soothed and relaxed? Uplifted? Or Unblocked?

Here’s an edited excerpt from my book about using essential oils to help with emotional issues

An oil burner provides an easy and effective way of accessing the emotional benefits of essential oils. However if you need to use them whilst out and about put a couple of drops on a tissue and place in a zip lock plastic bag, open the bag and inhale when you need a boost. You can experiment with mixing different oils with complimentary properties. Use no more than 3-5 drops in total, with a mixture of up to 3 oils. Here is a selection of essential oils that can have helpful effects on the emotions:

Bergamot is a calming and uplifting oil. It can improve mood, mellow anxiety and tension and lift depression. It is particularly useful when feeling anger, frustration or grief and can help bring a sense of release.

Chamomile is a very calming oil, bringing peace and relaxation to anxious minds. It can help ease feelings of anger and fear and is great for treating insomnia and tension headaches. It’s also a useful oil when you’re lacking in patience.

Clary sage is both sedative and euphoric. It is helpful for states of nervous tension, racing minds and mental exhaustion. It can restore a sense of wellbeing and perspective.

Geranium relaxes nervous tension and lifts the spirits. It’s helpful for treating anxiety and depression.

Grapefruit uplifts and revives. It is a great stress buster and is helpful for depression and emotional liability.

Jasmine has an uplifting and stimulating effect on the emotions. It is helpful when feeling depressed and lethargic. It can help restore confidence, energise and revitalise.

Lavender has a balancing effect on the central nervous system. It can calm and soothe, relieving anger and exhaustion and is a wonderful remedy for insomnia.

Lemongrass is helpful for mental exhaustion. It can revive, energise and lift the spirits.

Marjoram has a very calming effect on the nervous system. It can be helpful for insomnia, stress and anxiety, and can be comforting for the grieving and the lonely.

Melissa is both calming and uplifting and is particularly useful when you’re feeling very sensitive.  It can be helpful for depression, anxiety, shock and bereavement and is another oil that can help blocked emotions flow.

Neroli soothes and uplifts. It can help calm shock and panic attacks and is great for treating insomnia. It can also help relieve anxiety, depression and stress.

Sandalwood calms the emotions, bringing peace and comfort. It can help with nervous tension and anxiety.

Ylang Ylang has sedative properties which calm the nervous system and can bring down adrenaline states. It’s a powerful calmer for any extent of anxiety, including shock, panic and fear. It’s also a great soother for anger and stress. Its euphoric properties can help you reconnect with a state of joy

For example, the other night when I was fed up of feeling tired and unwell I was cheered up with a blend of 2 drops of ylang ylang and one drop each of bergamot and geranium in the oil burner. A mixture of 2 drops of clary sage and 1 drop of lemongrass brings wonderful relief when I’m mentally exhausted. I’ve also been known to take a tissue with grapefruit oil on it, in a zip lock bag, to sniff before an interview.

A wonderful resource about the properties of essential oils is the book: A directory of essential oils. Wanda Sellar 1992 The CWDaniel Company LTD

For more about aromatherapy and emotions click here.

Click here to see my post on using aromatherapy to combat sleep disturbance.

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