MENTAL HEALTH | aromatherapy & anxiety
i have always been opposed to the "mindful", "positive thoughts" movement and all its advice on mental health, as they seem to portray these serious problems as something one can change with a simple daily routine and a bit of will power. well, the reality is a bit different. mental illnesses are illnesses, not bad lifestyles which can be quickly changed into an more agreeable, Instagram-friendly routine. now, i'm not saying any of these tips don't actually help at all—and, as you've guessed, i'm actually going to praise one of them right below—, but they simply cannot eliminate all mental health problems. they can help ease some of the symptoms, but that's about it in most cases. so, please don't believe this false reality such articles and people promoting them preach, and don't feel bad if any of those tips don't work for you at all. and please, don't feel ashamed to reach out for medical help, often it's 100% better than all those positive articles combined.
anyway, let's get to the point. some time ago, i found myself at dm, a cosmetic/household store, having quite a crazy anxiety attack. all sweaty and disoriented, i found myself aimlessly cruising through the aisles of that crammed shop right off Potsdamer Platz, surrounded by tons of people in pre-Christmas craze, feeling like i was gonna lose it right on the spot. then i found myself standing right in front of the section with candles, home scents, and essential oils. at this point, my anxiety has been bad for several weeks, so i felt like the 2 euros spent on an essential oil could be quite a good investment. i wanted to go for eucalyptus oil, which i had often used before to help me doze off at night, but decided to go for orange instead. when i successfully managed to get my deranged mind and body back home, i poured a bit of the oil on a small plate and put it on my radiator. minutes later, an incredibly relaxing, fresh, and mind-freeing scent filled my room and, however sceptical at first, i had to admit that it really did help me with the anxious, panicky feelings i was experiencing. they did not magically disappear with a blink of an eye, but i could feel my muscles and my brain loosening up, and slowly i could start breathing again.
later on i realized how much scents in general actually affect how i feel – how much i love putting on perfume or using this special soap from Lush when showering, and concluded that that might be the key to helping me out on the tough days. ever since, i'm all about scented candles and oils, which i use all the time at home, and if i happen to be outside, i reapply body scents that make me feel comfortable (for example, i love my jasmine perfume, but it's a bit too strong when i get anxious, so i prefer to add a bit of my cashmere-scented natural deodorant, which has the sweetest smell of the softest, warm freshly clean clothes).
most articles will recommend lavender, bergamot or eucalyptus scents, but i'd say it's absolutely depends on each person's own preferences. as much as i love the smell of anything floral (most of my cosmetic products are either jasmine & lily or rose scented), i cannot really stand them when i get nervous, which is why lavender would never work for me, even though i love it. on the other hand, fruity smells help me, as well as sweet, soft and warm scents. orange oil helps me overcome panicky moments, peach makes me feel more content and nice. vanilla candle makes me feel all homey and cozy.
it really depends on each person, but i guess smells can really evoke certain pleasant feeling which can help one with coping with difficult moments. it's all about trying, i suppose. but as i've mentioned, you don't need fancy diffusers and aroma lamps to start your own aromatherapy project, a tiny plate and a few drops of essential oil are just enough. take it easy, be nice to yourself, and treat yourself a bit. it's all about self-care.
this is not a medically-backed article claiming that aromatherapy will cure any mental illness. it also does not want to encourage anyone to experiment with their own health. if you're experiencing severe problems with your own mental health, please do not hesitate to search for help. your mental health is not a DIY project.