When I decide to write a blog post, it probably should be for my readers. Confession: it’s usually for me. 😆 But hey, if I need it, someone else must need it too. Today is no exception, and yes, I’m talking about stress management. We all have stress, and if we don’t learn to handle the pressure, we just might POP. 🎈🤪
Yup, I’m about at that point! Between coaching, writing, homeschooling three boys, and trying to make sure everyone can find clean socks and underwear, my plate is full. Then, a few weeks ago, I found out we may be moving out of state. It’s still an “if”, but the stress of all the possibilities and logistics (on top of everything else) sent my mind into a tailspin. It quickly escalated to the point of squirrel brain kicking in, and I forgot about all the stress management tips I know. 😅
So consider this article a reminder to me, and to you too!
Disclaimer: We are NOT addressing states of disease or dysfunction in mental health. I am not a medical professional and do not give medical advice. We are just talking about stress management for healthy people dealing with normal experiences. Although essential oils are generally very safe, any tips you try at your own discretion and risk. Use proper dilution, be mindful of sensitivities, and don’t get oils in your eyes. Only you know your body, mind, and what you need.
Okay, we got that out of the way. Let’s start with rule #1!
Don’t wait until you are at the point of “grip stress”. What is grip stress? Well, in personality theory it means that stress has worn down your strongest cognitive functions and you start relying on your weaker functions. Basically, you aren’t acting like yourself, and it isn’t healthy. You may lose your temper, wallow in negative emotions, or engage in destructive behavior.
For me, my inferior cognitive function is extraverted sensing (you don’t need to know what that means). Just know that it translates into Stressed Me being indulgent and impulsive, and possibly eating pints of cashew milk ice cream and bags of chips. 😱🍨 #healthcoachesarentperfect
Your “grip stress” response may be something totally different than mine, but it’s probably not a place you want to go, no matter how fantastic the buffalo queso chips are. 😜
We have to be proactive with our stress management, and essential oils can help. Actually, you can do some of these things without oils (gasp!). But the right oils can very much amplify your experience and help you relax even more.
#1 Essential Oils and Deep Breathing
Chronic, long term stress puts our bodies at risk of all kinds of nasty problems. It puts us in fight or flight mode, which shuts down our digestive capacity. (Because if your stress was a bear chasing you, you’d want your blood pumping to your extremities to help you run instead of to your stomach to digest your sandwich.) Even though we probably aren’t being hunted by carnivores, when the stress response happens, our metabolism is compromised and we don’t properly absorb nutrients. Ugh, right?
But how do we stop it, other than jumping on a flying unicorn headed to paradise? 🦄🏖 😉 One word: Breathing!
When we control our breath, we also control our parasympathetic nervous system, putting us into a relaxed state. All heck could be breaking loose, but if you’re breathing slowly and steadily, your nervous system is going to be calmed.
To start, try the 5-5-7 breath. Inhale through your nose for the count of 5, hold for 5, then exhale out of your nose for a count of 7. Do this at least ten times, for a total of about two minutes.
To amplify the experience, add in your favorite calming oils. This could be done just by putting the oils in a diffuser next to you. Or you can apply the oils to your hands and cup them in front of you as you breathe.
Why do the oils help you cope with stress, anyways? Well, the limbic system of the brain plays a vital role in interpreting and channeling intense emotional experiences, and our sense of smell stimulates the limbic system. In addition, the aldehydes and esters of essential oils such as lavender and frankincense are very calming to the nervous system. Try it, you’ll see!
Favorite Oil Choices for This:
#2 Oils for Anchoring and Grounding
When we’re under stress, we can find ourselves a) stuck in our heads ruminating about our issues or b) acting flighty and feeling out of control or c) BOTH! 😝
It’s times like this we can really use some anchoring and grounding. An “anchor” is something physical that reminds you of what is really important. It could be something like a photo, an inspirational screensaver on your phone, or your wedding ring. When you’re stressed, focusing on that anchor can pull you out of the tailspin.
Adding your sense of smell into this process can make it even more powerful. Choose an essential oil and deeply breathe it in as you focus on what is most important to you. If circumstances permit, go outside and literally “ground” yourself by putting your feet on the earth. If you’re in an office building or it’s 20 degrees outside, connecting with those little drops of plant juice will suffice. 😉
Favorite Oil Choices for This:
#3 Oils and Journaling
For many of us, getting our thoughts out on paper is cathartic. But when we’re stressed we don’t always know where to start. After all, it’s really hard to tap into creativity when we’re in a state of fight or flight.
My favorite tip as a writer is to put some oils for creativity in the diffuser. My personal go-to is Young Living’s Envision blend. I start breathing it in and the words start to flow again.
If you aren’t sure what to journal about, start listing everything you are grateful for. Gratitude is such a powerful mental state! If you are fully focused on what you love and appreciate in the present, the worse case scenario thinking melts away. 😎
Favorite Oils Choices for This:
#4 Oils for Clearing Emotional Baggage
Often our stress is magnified by our own emotional baggage. What do I mean by that? Well, our minds collect memories of our life experiences and file them away. When something in the present triggers a similar feeling, the mind pulls those experiences back up and tries to make sense of the here and now.
Sometimes those experiences are no longer relevant, but the subconscious doesn’t understand that. For example, say you’re feeling stressed about giving a big presentation. You need to pull this off to meet your goals, but your subcounscious is saying “this isn’t safe, let’s not do this!”
That “not safe” feeling may be based on the time you forgot your lines in the 3rd grade play or lost a debate in high school. It has nothing to do with your present capability, but the feelings associated with that memory are keeping you stuck and stressed.
To move forward in the moment, you have to clear that old baggage away.
Once again, we can use our sense of smell to help. This is what we do in Aroma Freedom Technique. Using specifically formulated blends of essential oils, we can identify and release the things that hold us back and add to our stress.
For simple issues, you can do some release work on your own. If you have heavier things you are dealing with, or a lot of emotional baggage, working with a Certified AFT Practitioner (like myself) may be helpful. If you have severe trauma, working with an AFT Practitioner with additional qualifications in mental health may be advisable.
Ready to try it?
First, ask yourself “What feeling is attached to this stress and where am I feeling it in my body?” Your feeling may be sad, angry, worried, etc. You may feel it as a tightness in your neck, back, stomach, or somewhere else.
Next, take your essential oils and breathe them into that feeling, focusing on where you feel the tension or discomfort. Usually you’ll find a memory associated with that feeling comes right up.
Once you allow your brain to process through the memory, it will lose much of its emotional charge. Follow with your favorite uplifting oil.
Know that this can be an emotional process. As much as we would like to bury all our uncomfortable feelings, they don’t just go away. Processing through them can be a very freeing experience, but use your own discretion as to what you are prepared to process at the moment.
Favorite Oils Choices for This:
What’s up with all these blends, you ask?
All the blends I’ve listed are from Young Living. I know you might have your own favorite source for oils, but if you haven’t tried YL’s emotional blends you are missing out! Gary Young is an artist with blending these oils and the way they work is just amazing. If you’re an oil fan you owe it to yourself to experience them. 😍 Besides, their quality is top notch and you don’t want to be inhaling anything that may have synthetics or solvents in it… eww! But that’s a whole different post.
If you’d like to know more about these oils, I’d love to talk with you. Just give me a holler! You can also read more HERE.
If you see some oils you have to have right now and don’t have an account yet, I’d so appreciate you using my referral link. Thank you! 💖
So which of these stress management tips are you most excited to try? Do you have your own favorite methods you’d like to share? Before you go, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!
Read Next: Essential Oils & Emotions Series
*Citrus oils are photosensitive, don’t apply to areas that will be exposed to the sun in the next 12-24 hours.