While the coronavirus outbreak has been stressful on its own, there is also the added strain of lockdowns and social distancing. As we’re required to spend longer lengths indoors, it’s understandable to start feeling restless and on edge. Aromatherapy and essential oils are a way to quickly ease this stress utilizing your sense of smell. Lavender oil is a fundamental relaxation tool as it has anti-anxiety benefits and helps promote sleep.
Lavender, or lavendula angustfolia, is one of the most commonly used essential oils in the world today. With its refreshing and relaxing aroma, lavender is a highly versatile oil as its uses range from anxiety and insomnia to burns and infections to even cosmetics and food.
There is extensive research showing that lavender oil reduces anxiety and stress while promoting relaxation. It does this by triggering the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions, when you smell it. This was shown in a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Participants within the study were exposed to a stressor before completing a memory task. People who inhaled a lavender aroma before being stressed performed better than participants who inhaled a placebo aroma.
In addition to promoting relaxation, lavender has been shown to help mitigate depression as well. In a 2012 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers found that four weeks of twice-weekly, 15-minute-long aromatherapy sessions helped alleviate depression in addition to lowering anxiety levels in high-risk postpartum women.
Here are some examples of how you can incorporate lavender oil into your daily routine to help relax you during this lockdown:
- For a soothing, relaxing bath, combine five to ten drops of your lavender oil with a few tablespoons of milk or unscented liquid soap and then add to your bath water. This will bind the oil so it disperses into the water. Don’t add oil directly to the water, as it will float to the top, where it can splash into your eyes and irritate them.
- For a calming environment in the bedroom, lounge, or any room, try using a diffuser. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper number of drops of lavender oil to add for indirect inhalation. Electric or battery operated diffusers will be the safest.
- For a relaxed and restorative sleep, place three to four drops of lavender oil on a cosmetic pad, cotton ball, or tissue and place it in between your pillow and pillow case, allowing you to inhale it as you sleep.
Lavender oil is essential during times of lockdown and quarantine as it will help you combat the two main concerns: anxiety and depression. Simply using it in your oil diffuser will lift your mood and help create a more relaxing environment in your home. While this lockdown won’t last forever, it’s important that we don’t simply try to grit our teeth and bare it. You deserve to have this process be as painless as possible so be sure to be kind to yourself and help create a safe nest for you to take refuge while we wait for this to end.