Finding Balance: How Essential Oils Can Enhance Women’s Mental Health

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Life gets messy. Whether it’s work deadlines, juggling family obligations, or dealing with plain old tough emotions, we all feel overwhelmed or out of sorts at some point. There are endless self-help articles and expert advice columns, but sometimes you’re just looking for something that makes you feel better in the moment. 

If you’re open to new ideas or holistic approaches to wellness, essential oils could become a welcome addition to your mental health toolkit. These powerful plant extracts were used for centuries to support emotional well-being and promote relaxation. They can be inhaled, applied topically, or added to baths or diffusers to calm the mind and body.

Photo by Mareefe:

What Exactly Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are powerful, super-concentrated plant extracts. Just think about it — when you crush a lavender flower, that fragrance released is a bit of its essential oil. They can be derived from the flowers, leaves, bark, and other parts of plants. The ways to use them are diverse, but inhalation (aromatherapy) and topical application are most common for improving your mental state.

So, can smelling nice make you less stressed?

It sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? But there’s a reason these little bottles of plant magic have been gaining popularity. While aromatherapy isn’t a replacement for professional mental health support if you need it, there’s growing evidence supporting the link between essential oils and feeling better.

Here’s the interesting part: Your sense of smell is wired directly into your brain’s emotional control center. Breathing in something like lavender oil doesn’t just smell good — it can trigger relaxation responses in your brain and body. Some oils might help quiet racing thoughts, others bring energy and focus, while others help lift a low mood. It’s a bit of mind-body science in action.

Okay, I’m Curious. Where Do I Start?

A few essential oils are thought to be particularly helpful for women’s mental health.

  • Lavender: The relaxation superstar. Think of it as a comforting hug in a bottle — excellent if you experience anxiety or find it hard to unwind.
  • Chamomile: This one hits on anxiety and sleep issues. It’s the scent equivalent of a warm cup of tea right before bed to soothe restless thoughts.
  • Citrus oils (orange, lemon, bergamot):  Need a mood boost? Citrus scents are invigorating and can bring a feeling of joy and brightness.
  • Peppermint: Feeling mentally fatigued? Peppermint is a fantastic pick for improving focus and alertness. It can help ease tension headaches, too.

Essential Oils Through the Seasons of Life

As women, we move through so many unique phases and shifts, both physically and emotionally. Essential oils can be a thoughtful companion during these times, too:

  • Hormonal changes: Many women swear by oils to ease the roller coaster ride our hormones often put us through. Clary sage is known to have balancing effects, easing issues around PMS and cramps. Geranium is another women’s health favorite, said to be useful during hot flashes and other menopausal woes.
  • Dealing with stressful events: If exams, a new job, or big life transitions are stressing you out, consider a blend of lavender, bergamot, and frankincense. These calm the nerves, foster focus, and give you that extra-centered feeling when everything seems chaotic.
  • Pregnancy and motherhood: This is a delicate time, so always check with your doctor before using any new products, including essential oils. But gentle choices like diluted lavender and mandarin can bring relaxation to a mom-to-be or promote feelings of peace for a new mama struggling with a fussy baby.
  • Self-care for the “Always On” woman: Sometimes, as a hardworking woman, you just need to tune out and decompress. Rose essential oil is a luxurious scent with mood-boosting qualities. You can add a few drops to a bath and imagine yourself whisked away to a luxurious spa, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

Remember that using essential oils during major life stages or when facing particular health concerns often requires extra research and consideration. You should seek advice from an aromatherapy specialist or a trusted health professional for proper guidance.

Let’s Talk Quality: What Are Therapeutic Essential Oils?

Just like any health-related product, quality matters. Opt for 100% pure essential oils labeled as “therapeutic grade.”This means they haven’t been messed with by adding extra chemicals or synthetic perfumes. Look for reputable brands at aromatherapy stores or trusted online shops.

You should never apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting them first. The super-concentration of these oils can be irritating. Essential oils should be mixed with a “carrier oil” like coconut or sweet almond oil to maintain potency without causing skin irritation.

Here are a few other ways you can incorporate essential oils into your daily routine:

  • Aromatherapy diffuser: Add a few drops to your diffuser to fill a room with your chosen scent. It’s the classic way to reap the benefits.
  • A warm bath: Put a few diluted drops of lavender or chamomile in your evening bath, creating a mini-spa to reduce stress and prime you for sleep.
  • On the go: Keep a small roll-on bottle (properly diluted) with you. If you need a moment of calm at work or school, swipe it on your wrists or temples.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mental health and wellness. However, essential oils can be a natural and effective way to support your well-being. Try experimenting to find essential oils that work for you. You may be surprised at the positive impact they can have on your mental state.

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