A Guide to Aromatherapy

Different smells elicit visceral experiences, like the scent of fresh homemade cookies being intrinsically connected to a sense of home. So what if there were scents that could mitigate stress? Or even help reduce physical pain? 

Well according to Habitude Spa lead Kailey Smith, those benefits are just the beginning when incorporating aromatherapy in your daily routine. As an esthetician at the Ballard-based Spa in Seattle, Kailey is intimately knowledgeable with the use of oils on a professional and personal level. 

Which is why we asked her for ways we all can harness the benefits of oils, and why we should:

What are the benefits of aromatherapy? 

Well the list is pretty long! Aromatherapy is amazing for stress relief, anxiety, and agitation. Heck, it can even help your quality of sleep. Plus, it can help fight bacteria, virus, or fungus and is great for tension headaches. Just to list a few.

How often should folks use aromatherapy? 

If possible, every single day as a part of your daily routine.

What are some easy ways for people to incorporate aromatherapy into their life? 

I personally love diffusing essential oils for aromatherapy. I have two diffusers; one in my bedroom and one in my living room. I am not the best sleeper but ever since I’ve been diffusing lavender nightly, I sleep like a baby. Since I’m home due to COVID-19, I’ve been diffusing in my living room all day, too. It’s been helping keep me calm and energized. 

Another really easy way to use aromatherapy is apply it to your wrist (making sure it’s not pure essential oil and it’s cut with a carrier oil) and taking some deep diaphragmatic breaths when things start feeling heavy.

You can incorporate aroma in your favorite face or hair mask to boost at-home self care and relaxation. I also love baths and typically add unscented Epsom salt to my favorite aroma straight into bath water. If you’re not a big bath person, you can always stick your feet in some warm water for 10-15 minutes and apply essential oils to the bottom of your feet; that is the quickest way it absorbs into your bloodstream

What are some aromatherapy scents you recommend for those dealing with anxiety or stress? 

Working with Aveda, my all time favorite aromas are: Lavender, Tangerine, Peppermint and Stress fix. Stress fix is an aroma blend of Lavender, lavandin, and clary sage. The blend was clinically tested and proven to help lower cortisol (a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands) in the bloodstream. Plus, Lavender is great for stress and Tangerine is a natural anti-anxiety, while citrus can also give energy and uplift our moods. Peppermint is also energizing and helps with migraines and headaches. 

What are ways that couples could have some fun with aromatherapy at home? 

I love taking some essential oils and brushing through hair with them, then giving a scalp massage. This is great for those stress headaches we are all experiencing right now. Or, do a foot soak with oils in the living room with your favorite Netflix movie or some soothing spa music on. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes, then dry-off the feet and give a foot massage! You could also make some hot steam towels and apply your aroma to them and simply place it around your neck or face.  

Are aromatherapies useful for kids? Would you recommend parents using them with the children at home? If so, how? 

Yes, absolutely! My best friend diffuses lavender every single night for her one-year-old to sleep! Make sure you’re mostly diffusing essential oils at night to help kids sleep. You can apply essential oils to kids, but do way less than what you would put on yourself. Also, make sure it’s not pure essential oil (meaning it should be cut with a carrier oil.)

Are there any potential risks or side effects people should be aware of? 

Although you can digest some essential oils not all are meant for that. Be sure you’re not allergic to any ingredients, a lot of folks have Lavender allergies. You need to be careful or certain oils while pregnant, nursing, and with small children. Also, be aware if you are diffusing as not all aromas are safe for animals. 

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Brooke Jackson

Brooke Jackson is an internationally featured writer and photographer based in Seattle. As the founder of Wandering Trails Media, she specializes in travel, outdoor adventure sports, and environmental studies. Brooke also instructs for REI Outdoor School, where she finds joy in educating others on how best to get outside in a responsible and sustainable way. See more of Brooke's work at www.WanderingTrailsMedia.com

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