Arguably, everyone in the whole world is under stress of some description. It might be positive stress, of the sort joggers voluntarily put themselves under, or the negative stress that comes from, for example, from sitting in an open-plan office with a dozen telephones ringing at any given time. The kinds of stress and degrees of it are manifold, and so the oils we use and the combinations must reflect this diversity.
First of all let’s distinguish between positive stress, normal stress, and distress. Positive stress could be described as a “high,” the excited tension you get when performing your job fast and efficiently. It is, indeed, the kind of high that makes people enjoy working in the first place; the sheer joy of being a human being actually accomplishing something, whether that’s whizzing through the in-tray or writing a book.
Positive stress makes us aim that little bit higher, leap over the pitfalls life presents to each of us, and gives us the force to take on challenges. This is the kind of energy that increases stimulation, helps our energy level, and helps creativity flow. Since it contributes to our feeling up, we don’t treat it with essential oils. We don’t need to.
Normal stress is a state during which the body performs its functions for survival in response to circumstances. For example, when you have a car accident the body is flooded with adrenaline which causes all kinds of physical phenomenon –everything goes into slow motion for example, or pain cannot be felt.
The out of the ordinary stress caused by accidents is all to the good because it increases your capacity and efficiency. Your heart may be pounding, you are shaking all over but somehow you manage to walk to the phone booth and call for help. “I don’t know how I did it,” you say later, looking at the gash in your leg, but you do know really –your mechanisms for survival took over and enabled you to do what you needed to at the time. You can collapse later, when the emergency has passed. These normal stress mechanism are good –very good- and we don’t need to treat them either.
Distress, however is another thing. This is when the healthy stress becomes chronic, with the result that we have no energy, no will, only frustration at the ever-increasing pressure load. This is when essential oils are needed.
Here we look at the various types and degrees of stress and the oils which are best suited to deal with them. Of course different types can exacerbate each other, so that the environmental stress you suffer at work can cause mental stress which, when taken home, can lead to emotional stress.
Environmental Stress: Caused by, bright lights over your desk; noise of machinery; the constant ringing of telephones; a cramped office space; etc. Oils which help: Cedarwood, Coriander, Geranium, Cypress, Roman Chamomile, Basil, Bergamot
Chemical Stress: Caused by, too many cups of coffee; too many lunchtime drinks; too much junk food; too many aspirins or antibiotics; inhaling substances at the factory or office; pollution on the way to work; smokers in the office; etc. Oils which help: Lavender, Patchouli, Pettigrain, Geranium, Clary-Sage, Grapefruit, Lemon, Rosemary
Physical Stress: Caused by, pushing your body to the limits; running in the office “fun run”; working out at the gym; driving long distances continually; etc. Oils which help: Rosemary, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, Lavender, Bergamot, Thyme, Geranium, Fennel
Mental Stress: Caused by, for example, trying to achieve; taking exams; anguish over uncompleted jobs; unemployment; financial worries. Oils which help: Geranium, Lavender, Sandalwood, Basil, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Cardamom, Patchouli
Emotional Stress: Caused by, relationship problems; parental guilt; the inability to give or receive love; grief; etc. Oils which help: Geranium, Sandalwood, Palma Rosa, Bergamot, Vetiver, Rose, Cardamom
These different types of stress occur in varying degrees and the oils and formulas recommended take these levels of stress into consideration. Identify the level of your stress from the categories below and then you can choose from the formulas and oils that follow for the most effective treatment for your personal needs.
Treat the first level before it develops into the second and so on. Mental health is as precious as physical health; indeed the sharp distinction so often drawn between the two is misleading. They are at different ends of the same phenomenon but they are actually the same thing. The human being works as an integrated unit of body and mind, and to take care of one is to take care of the other.
Level 1: Starts as tiredness and develops into irritability, headaches, and insomnia.
Level 2: Depression, anxiety, muscular pain, chronic headaches, persistent infections, guilt, apathy, helplessness.
Level 3: Persecution complex, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, despair, increasing guilt and depression, susceptibility to viral infections and bacterial invasions.
Level 4: Now the body is really crying for help. Unexplained pain, heart problems, strokes, and high blood pressure may be experienced, along with all the other diseases that are thought to have their roots in stress, like ulcers and even arthritis. The immune system is further depressed, leading to all manners of physical distress.
First here are some synergistic blends. Level 1 and 3 are grouped together because these need sedatives and relaxants. At level 2 however, you need something that will add a level of stimulation that will prevent you from slipping into level 3. This is to get you out of the quagmire and motivated, and to stimulate your immune system to prevent infection. If you have reached level 4, it’s time for the heavier sedatives which are known as “hypnotics.”
Only those synergistic blends at level 2 and essential oils listed later under level 2, the stimulant oils for stress-related disorders, can be used in the open workplace. All the blends and oils can be used in the atmosphere if you have a fairly closed office, and in any other method that you choose.
At all levels of stress a bath after work every night is a must –use 6-8 drops of chosen formula or oil. You may also make up a massage oil which can double as a body rub to put on before going to work. Also use it in the shower, if you have one, in the morning. Any of the room methods can be used at home, and at work perhaps the best solution is to have a bottle of oils ready with a plant-spray so you can spray your workplace when it’s convenient –perhaps when everyone else has gone out for lunch.
As Level 1 of stress is grouped with Level 3, let’s start with the level 2 synergistic blends that will, as well as helping you, benefit your fellow workers and boss too. The three general formulas are ideal for reducing stress levels throughout the work place, enabling everyone to cope before they get stressed out.