Our guest post today comes from Peter Friis, CEO and Founder of the Essio Shower Kit.
Health and wellness are not rigid states. Instead, they are a process: fluid, always moving. Although competitive athletes thrive on setting goals and achieving finite numbers, this is a short-term way of thinking. Fine if you’re training for the gold. But this is also why most weight-loss programs fail, and why most people drift away from their gym memberships. In order to sustain health and fitness, we need to look at our habits and practice long term. And integrating aromatherapy into each day can help keep this “big picture” in focus, just by breathing.
Breathing and breath control are important aspects of exercise and stress management. Endurance sports build our cardio-vascular strength. Yoga traditions call upon thousands of years of Vedic practice to balance energies through highly refined inhaling and exhaling techniques.
On a more subtle level, how we breathe both reflects and affects our stress level, and this impacts our wellness. When we experience anxiety, we tend to take short, shallow, rapid breaths. This deprives the body of oxygen, and triggers the release of stress-hormones including adrenalin and cortisol. And, current studies show that breathing through the mouth further accelerates spikes in these brain chemicals, which are linked to the “fight or flight” responses in the parasympathetic central nervous system.
Deeper, slower breaths are a simple practice which enhance just about every aspect of wellness—and adding a few essential oils, enjoyed via an aromatherapy diffuser, make the experience even more beneficial.
Our sense of smell keys into deep areas of the brain which are linked to memory. This aspect of the olfactory function has been called “primitive”, referencing the colorfully termed “reptile brain”, but in fact our sense of smell is highly nuanced and important in how we form perception. Aroma is also closely associated with mood, although neurologists are still studying to determine the precise mechanics of how this works.
Based on what we know today, we can use aromas derived from essential oils to reinforce good experiences, and expand the benefits of positive associations. For instance, the combination of release, fatigue and contentment we may feel at the end of a rigorous workout is a “happy place” for your body. Try inhaling a favorite essential oil as you cool down from exertion (we recommend essential oil of Peppermint, which eases pain including achey muscles, and any Citrus essential oil, to inspire optimism). In fact, you can make your own sporty aromatherapy diffuser by capturing a few drops of precious essential oil onto a clean white handkerchief and tucking it into your headband or into the shoulder-area of a snugly fitted workout garment. The essential oils will warm to your body heat as you exercise.
And, after you’ve created this neural pathway with a few repetitions, make yourself another aromatherapy diffuser using these oils to use in non-workout settings. Keep a cloth, scented with these “trigger” oils, in your handbag, tablet case, backpack, glove compartment, and desk drawer at the office. When you’re feeling a lag of stamina, or a flash of stress, take a few deep breaths—your brain has been trained to respond favorably to the essential oils, and you will experience a physiological as well as emotional balancing.