When I was studying to become an Aromatherapist, I discovered a whole host of essential oils that had the power to improve my concentration, keep me motivated and help me stay calm at exam time.
Studying aromatherapy has been an absolute pleasure and I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments. It has helped me to work with many people who have, in turn, found that aromatherapy can help them too. Perhaps you’ve never heard of aromatherapy, or maybe you just want to understand more about it. If so, look no further; here’s a quick guide to how it works. You can also find out more by clicking here.
We’ll start with the basics: aromatherapy is the practice of using natural plant extracts (essential oils) to enhance both a person’s physical health and general well-being. Essential oils aren’t just plant aromas, they are therapeutic essences containing the characteristics of the plants they come from.
At this stage, it’s really important to say that one of the biggest rules in aromatherapy is that these oils must never be ingested or put directly on the skin. They must always be mixed into a vegetable (carrier) oil or a base product like a lotion or shower gel. The only time they can ever be used directly is if you’re putting them in a diffuser or an oil burner, and even then water is added. That reminds me of another golden rule; essential oils do not disperse in water, they actually float on the surface, so you must never use water to apply them to your skin.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s look at how essential oils might be useful to you as you study.
As I mentioned earlier, there are certain oils which can help you focus and concentrate, and top of that list is Basil, or French basil to be precise. You’ve probably come across the herb basil in cooking (it’s pretty much a staple of many cuisines, particularly when making delicious Italian food) and you might even have a basil plant at home. Basil essential oil is actually quite strong and a bit spicy, but there is a certain sweetness to it. I find it can be a bit too earthy for me, so I like to blend it with citrus oils like lemon or lime when I’m using it in my diffuser. I find the fresh zinginess of citrus oils really does aid my concentration.
Let’s be honest, there are times when you’re studying and you feel like you just cannot retain any information at all. You’re groggy, lethargic and you’d rather sleep than read a book, let alone write assignments! For those times, I love essential oils like Rosemary and Peppermint (Rosemary is my personal favourite).
Like Basil, these two oils have a cephalic action, which is a fancy way of saying that they clear the head or mind. If you have these oils at home, just go and have a quick sniff, and you’ll immediately start to breathe more easily. Your head may feel lighter as well, because both of these oils are great for headaches too. I like to mix one drop of Peppermint with one drop of Lavender and add in 10ml of Sweet almond oil. That simple blend really does soothe my head. A good tip is that rollerballs containing Peppermint and Lavender are really handy for keeping in your pencil case, just in case you need to clear your head. For younger children (those under 10) I usually replace Peppermint with Spearmint because it is a lot softer and sweeter.
Beat Those Nerves
I love learning and studying, but I find assignment time and exam season really stressful. It’s easy to become completely overwhelmed and feel like you’ve got too much on your plate. Thankfully, I have discovered that there are plenty of essential oils to help you float through the more stressful periods feeling calm and in control.
When I want to breathe more deeply, steady my nerves and sleep better, it’s time to bring out the florals. I love Geranium, Neroli and an essential oil staple you’ll all be familiar with, lavender. These oils are all great if you’re waking up in the night or just need some time to relax. I also like to mix in a bit of sweet orange, which is one of the more uplifting oils.
Wood oils are also great for calming the mind; you can choose from Sandalwood, Ho wood and Frankincense. There’s a really good reason why frankincense is used in churches; it aids prayer because of its meditative properties.
Chamomile and Clary sage are other calming oils, but it’s probably best to get them mixed by a qualified Aromatherapist, or to buy them pre-blended, because these herby oils are very pungent. If you need a bit of grounding, tea tree oil does the trick; it’s not just for treating spots and fighting colds! I tend to mix it with Geranium and Lavender and I only ever use a very small amount. As I’m sure you know, it is very, very strong.
If this is your first time using essential oils, opt for a good quality brand that creates pre-mixed oils, or go for a rollerball or an aromatherapy inhaler stick. You can also enlist the services of an aromatherapist who can make a bespoke blend for you. If you would like to try mixing some oils yourself, I suggest getting hold of a good aromatherapy book. One of my favourites is “Aromatherapy for Mental Wellbeing,” by Julia Oyeleye.
You can also find lots of useful tips in my other blogs. You can also follow me on Pinterest (@mbpharoma).