Aromatherapy Rituals: Using Scent To Trigger Relaxation
Aromatherapy can be such a powerful tool for our bodies and minds, yet it is often overlooked. It was from learning about how a scent is so closely connected to memory that I started to play around with its influence in my own life, and eventually learned how to use it to benefit my health.
This story begins on a serendipitous afternoon in Harrod's department store in London. It was one of those days when time seems to move a bit slower, and I found myself wandering by the perfume aisles. I wasn't planning to make a purchase that day, but when prompted, I told the attendant that I was looking for a scent that was floral, but also classy and professional. Among the options he shared with me, one was Tory Burch. I instantly fell in love. This scent was so reflective of how I felt in my life at that particular moment: I was working in London, and loving what I was doing. At the time, it felt like the life I had always wanted.
Some time went by, and as it does, life brought changes my way. I said goodbye to London, and returned to Canada. Though I was making quite a big jump geographically, I didn’t want to lose my connection to the confidence and state of mind that I had cultivated during my time in the UK.
My Tory Burch perfume quickly became my connection to a confident and empowered mindset. I would apply the perfume when I was dressing up, going out to the city, or doing something that made me excited. The scent was a trigger in my brain for being confident, happy, and, frankly, a boss bitch.
The only trouble with my designer perfume was that my wellness research kept reminding me of the dangers of conventional perfumes to human health. In a lot of cases, perfumes contain disruptive ingredients that can be harmful to us. While I still occasionally use Tory Burch as my signature scent—making sure to only apply it to clothing and not on my skin to be absorbed—I decided to dive deeper into natural scents and essential oils.
PHOTO BY MOLLY LEON STUDIOS
The Integration Of Aromatherapy
This experience inspired me to use that same trigger method for my health. I got a rose water spray that I would use only before bed, when I was away from electronics, or when I was doing something that was good for my health, like gratitude journaling.
I wouldn’t spray it when I was up all night on my phone or computer, and I wouldn’t spray it when I was in a terrible mood and not doing anything productive. I made sure I would only use it around positive things.
My theory was, by doing this, it would create an automatic trigger in my mind: as soon as I smelt the rose or felt the spray against my face, my mind would be given the signal that it was time to relax and practice something that brought self-love, wellness, or happiness.
I also decided to extend my use from before bed to before/during/after yoga practices, before/after meditation, and in other times, where I was doing something that was beneficial to my health.
PHOTO BY MOLLY LEON STUDIOS
What Changed From This?
Rose Water has become a scent for me that is so deeply connected with self-care and self-love that, as soon as I smell it, I go into a calmed state of thinking: “What do I need most at this moment?"
It thus helps me get relaxed and into a loving atmosphere.
While creating a scent-memory connection is something to consider deeply—as this will create long-lasting connections between scent and memories in your mind—it is an excellent tool to help people within a wide variety of self-care.
I often suggest that my clients use aromatherapy to help them wake up or go to sleep. There are essential oils that work with different parts of our body to help support us in life, if used appropriately.
Here are a few simple examples you may know already:
Lavender/Chamomile – promotes relaxation, reduces tension, aids with sleep
Citrus – awakens system, energizes
Peppermint – helps with headaches, energizes, alleviates pain
It is easy to learn about essential oils and their uses online, as well as with an
aromatherapist. Make sure to remember that essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin without carrier oil, and that they should not be ingested.
Another important point to remember is that, regardless of whether they are in a diffuser or being applied topically, essential oils are very harmful to cats/pets. If you have a cat, do the appropriate your research on which oils are safe for your furry friend, and always use a lower potency level.
PHOTO BY MOLLY LEON STUDIOS
Ideas Of How To Implement This Practice
Now that you know how to use scent as a positive trigger, you can apply it to many areas of your life, and customize it to what you need. Whether it be energizing you in the morning, or calming you before bed, or something else entirely. You can even use a certain scent before exercise-time, to get you in the groove!
Additionally, you can use essential oils to help you cope with stressors or trauma. For example, you can even integrate a scent for reducing stress while driving; this is especially helpful if you’ve ever been in a car accident, because the stress often lingers, sometimes even on a subconscious level. Or, they can also be used while stuck in traffic and feeling road rage.
And, remember: to enhance the effect of the oil(s), put the scent on your palms and rub them together until they get warm/hot. Then, hold your hands over your nose and take a few deep breaths in and out.
About Caitlin Mellor
Traveller, adventurer and wild woman Caitlin Mellor makes it her mission to always go after her joy and passions. She likes to be kept on her toes working as a photographer, writer, fitness/wellness coach, and public speaker. When she's not working you can often find her in the mountains, ocean, or jumping around the globe.
Join Caitlin on May 30 to celebrate being certified as a yoga instructor for a day filled with live videos about improving health and a free guided yoga class!