3 Ways To Use Aromatherapy For Gratitude And Wellbeing
As we approach Thanksgiving here in the U.S. amidst a pandemic and much economic uncertainty, we have an opportunity to harness the essence of the holiday - gratitude - and use it to support our health and wellbeing.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return kindness. It’s a social emotion based not only on what we receive, but also on what we can give back. In essence, gratitude allows you to appreciate what life gives you, but also what you can give life.
How does gratitude support our wellbeing?
Gratitude is a holistic concept, just like wellbeing, because it affects us in so many ways. Numerous studies, most notably from the American psychologist, and expert on gratitude, Dr. Robert Emmons, have shown that being grateful not only has positive mental effects, but physical and social ones as well.
Physically being grateful helps give you a stronger immune system, helps you feel less aches and pains, lowers blood pressure, helps you sleep longer, and motivates you to exercise more and take better care of your health.
Mentally being grateful brings on higher levels of positive emotions, makes you more alert and alive, while providing you with more joy, pleasure, and optimism.
Socially being grateful makes you more generous, helpful and compassionate, while also helping you feel less lonely and isolated.
How does aromatherapy fit in?
Aromatherapy is a wonderful complement to gratitude and wellbeing because it, too, serves a holistic purpose. It supports and looks to harmonize our emotional, physical and mental health through the use of our sense of smell and the application of natural plant extracts. It’s therapeutic goal is to heal the mind, body and spirit, returning the body to a state of equilibrium.
Here are 3 simple ways to use aromatherapy for gratitude and wellbeing:
1.) Take a scent walk around your neighborhood
Spending time outdoors, and in nature, breathing in the aromas from the trees and flowers, is scientifically proven to calm the mind and reduce physical stress. In fact, it’s these volatile organic compounds which are released by plants, and that you breathe in while walking, that let you experience the purest form of aromatherapy.
BRING IN GRATITUDE AND TRY THIS: as you walk along the street, focus in on specific scents. Maybe it’s the smell of pine or eucalyptus trees swaying in the wind, or the aroma of a rosemary bush that you’ve brushed up against, or the scent of a flower sending signals to a pollinator. Smell purposefully and take a moment to be thankful for the chance to connect with nature. Show appreciation for the amount of work it took Mother Nature to create the plant. Feel awe for how the plant is able to communicate with us through scent.
2.). Connect with your sense of smell
Your sense of smell is a beautiful and under appreciated sense that helps you understand the world in so many ways. It helps you eat more healthy by providing flavor, bonds you with loved ones in intimate ways, and helps you experience joy in the most emotional ways.
Unfortunately, thousands of people don’t have the ability to smell, and many have lost their sense of smell through COVID-19, which creates not only a physical imbalance, but an emotional and mental one as well.
BRING IN GRATITUDE AND TRY THIS: smell purposefully for one day. From the moment you wake up, roll over and smell your partner, then when you take your shower, smell the soap, the shampoo, and the lotion after you dry off. Then take in the aroma of your morning coffee or tea, smell the foods you eat throughout the day, and be mindful of other things that you come across that have a scent. Notice smells, both good and bad, and be grateful that you can smell them. They're helping you navigate the world.
3.) Meditate with an essential oil
The health benefits of meditating are numerous on their own. But adding the element of scent adds a new dimension. When you sit still and put your attention on a scent, you begin to feel more grounded, you feel calmer, less stressed and more focused. In turn, this helps you sleep better and feel more alert during the day, which lets you experience life in a more positive way.
BRING IN GRATITUDE AND TRY THIS: sit in a quiet, comfortable place with no distractions. Now take your favorite essential oil - one that you absolutely love - and put a few drops on a scent strip or cotton pad. Place the scent strip near your nose, close your eyes and sniff gently. Connect with scent, listen to what it’s telling you. Is it a loud or quiet scent? Is it evolving over time? How are you responding to the scent? How is your body responding? Find gratitude in what the scent, and the plant it comes from, is telling you. Be thankful for what the plant is giving you.