Winter is a very blue time of year. The burst of excitement before and during the holidays is often accompanied by a downward spiral of depression that sets in as winter approaches.
Days get shorter, skies turn grey, temperatures drop — and so do some people’s spirits.
If you’re one of the estimated half a million people experiencing seasonal depression, read on to learn how aromatherapy might help you.
Have you noticed a drop in your energy level, increased irritability, fatigue, weight gain and/or severe depression? These are just a few symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder that shouldn’t be left alone. If you’re feeling unusually down this time of year, seek a professional direction and consider adding aromatherapy to your daily life.
Aromatherapy is known to promote relaxation and help relieve stress. Essential oils have been proven to elevate mood. Smells are carried directly to the brain, so they act as emotional triggers and affect hormonal balances.
Here are five of my favourite scents to help seasonal depression:
Probably the best-known scent to soothe and relieve anxiety and depression, lavender can make you feel drowsy and relaxed. You can rub lavender essential oil on your wrists or behind your ears, or burn a lavender candle for an hour before bedtime to wake in the morning feeling refreshed and energetic.
If you’re a stress eater, peppermint oil decreases hunger cravings and helps you kick your habit of eating when you’re stressed. It also reduces pain and relaxes muscles when applied topically, and improves focus and concentration for long periods of wakefulness. It’s also a great smell for the winter because it reminds me of Christmas, which can also lead to an elevated mood.
Jasmine has an uplifting and sensual scent and plays well with others. It is known to boost confidence and optimism by stimulating feel-good hormones such as serotonin, giving you a boost of positivity. Jasmine can tackle feelings of insecurity, fear, grief, despair, and many other negative emotions.
If you don’t dig flowery scents, sandalwood has a very earthy smell and is a known antidepressant. Some people claim to receive the same benefits from sandalwood as they do from meditation. It has extensive therapeutic benefits such as clarity and calmness, and has an effect on overall well-being such as mental health. Sandalwood has sedative properties, so it’s best to avoid this scent if you feel run-down and lethargic and is best used for calming nerves.
Eucalyptus can be used in deodorants or decongestants. It provides a minty uplifting smell and relieves colds, sinusitis and allergies. It’s also really useful in shampoo and conditioner to reduce scalp inflammation and stimulate hair growth. I personally find that the smell of eucalyptus helps me feel happier more awake and optimistic.
I prefer to burn candles because just looking at them with the lights off relaxes my mind and makes me feel more at peace, but essential oils and other methods of using these scents will also help reduce depression, anxiety and the blues.
When considering aromatherapy candles, be sure to choose ones with wicks made of cotton or hemp to ensure that toxic elements from those made from zinc or lead do not enter your body and cause more harm.
Avoid candles made with paraffin wax and opt for ones that contain candelilla wax, rapeseed wax or beeswax. Paraffin is derived from petroleum and is toxic to the body.
Candles labeled with ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ are indicators that they are probably made with synthetic oils. They are not aromatherapy candles. Avoid them and go for candles that have 100% natural ingredients and essential oils otherwise you won’t receive the full benefits of aromatherapy candles.
Remember, you don’t have to stick with the scents I mentioned here! Anything that makes you feel good and smells pleasant to you will help improve seasonal depression.
I hope you can find peace this season with the use of aromatherapy!