Happiness: Aromatherapy for Your Brain

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September 21, 2017

Happiness is a state of mind. Any and everyone can be happy, so why are so many people unhappy? The answer has to do with our brains.

“Brain science is a triad of electrical (brain waves), architectural (brain structures) and chemical (neurochemicals) components working in concert to create a state of mind.” –The Neurochemicals of Happiness

In The Neurochemicals of Happiness, Chris Bergland breaks down 7 neurochemicals which contribute to feelings of happiness, and how to naturally achieve the release of these chemicals in your brain. These techniques include: exercise, setting and achieving goals, affection with loved ones (he also cites cuddling with pets will also release the chemical oxytocin, so if you’re single…get a dog or cat who likes to cuddle!), acupuncture, practicing yoga and meditation, and challenging yourself (step outside of your comfort zone).

You can also achieve the release of some of these chemicals by medical prescriptions. If you watch cable television you probably know all about the chemical imbalances that people experience that express depression. The marketing geniuses of commercials bring forth images to my mind of bouncing cartoon eggs, rainy skies, and clearing clouds illuminating bright sunlight and smiley, happy people. These commercials promote different drugs, all which regulate chemical production within your brain. I have been on these medications before.

I was living with my parents after a big life transition, driving an hour to work, teaching kids in an energy-demanding program, recovering from a car accident (physically and financially), and taking grad courses to complete my masters certification. I felt like I just needed to “get through” that year. Unfortunately, in the meantime, my stress level had skyrocketed and my energy level had plummeted. I felt stuck in my circumstances, and overall I was just…sad.

The prescription from my doctor worked for me. I was able to sustain my grueling schedule, but it also came with side effects. Instead of taking more meds to combat the side effects of my prescription, I decided to get off them altogether. My life circumstances had changed, and I knew I didn’t need the drugs anymore. Then, I dealt with weeks of withdrawals. After the whole experience I was determined to find natural ways to be happy.

One method of producing neurochemicals that can affect your emotions that I discovered was: aromatherapy. It is still seen as “alternative medicine,” but no one can doubt how smells effect your emotions. Just the other day, I was pouring out leftover soup at a concert, and the smell of a prominent spice brought me back to my grandmother’s garden in Lowell, NC. I still don’t know what the spice was, but I felt such happiness in the memory it resurfaced.

Smells will do this. Essential oils have smells that will make you “feel something,” but not everyone experiences the same emotions by smelling the same oils. As a teacher I used a diffuser in my classroom. Students had varying responses to the same oil, which were all usually entertaining and funny.

“Certain aromas can elicit certain emotions by triggering our memories and creating emotional responses. While everyone has different memories and life experiences, it is possible to harness the power of essential oils to create a specific response. Each essential oil has a unique chemical profile, which gives the oil certain properties and benefits. The chemical makeup of the essential oil will determine its attributes, benefits, and what kind of emotional responses it can produce. Therefore, it is possible to choose an essential oil based on its’ chemical profile for the purpose of eliciting a specific emotional response.

While there are many elements involved in the chemical makeup of an essential oil, many of the chemical constituents included in an oil depend on what kind of plant it comes from. Most essential oils come from plants, fruits, or plant materials, which will determine what kind of chemical constituents are included in the oil once it is produced.” – Emotional Benefits of Aromatherapy

My go-to oil when I want to feel calm is Lavender. It is a “universal oil” that can be used for many different purposes. I also use it for skin irritations, bug bites, or if I am struggling to fall asleep. Without knowing much about essential oils, you might be wondering HOW to use the oil in the first place. Below is a graphic which explains various methods of utilizing essential oils.

Graphic from: -Emotional Benefits of Aromatherapy

One thing I have learned about aromatherapy is….there is always more to learn. You don’t have to know everything there is to know in order to start using these beneficial oils. If you are interested in  learning more about using natural, plant-based methods to help you manage emotions (yours or your loved ones), please contact me using the form below!

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