Stress Prevention & Reduction for Minorities: Part 8 – Aromatherapy, Visualization, Laughing and Herbs

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, which has been used since ancient times, involves the use of aromatic oils from plant materials  to affect a person’s mood or health. Most health professionals consider aromatherapy a form of alternative therapy or complementary medicine instead of a usual form of medical treatment because few scientific studies have been carried out about its effectiveness. It is sometimes used along with other alternative medicine practices, and is most popular in Western societies. Aromatherapy for stress relief generally produces a calming effect. Aromatic oils considered best for stress relief

 

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  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Ylang-ylang

Each of these is also said to often be an aphrodisiac (or sex stimulant)

Main Methods of Aromatherapy

  • Aerial Sprays – for environmental fragrancing
  • Inhalation – such as from scented candles
  • Topical Use – for general massages, baths, and compresses

Popular Aromatic Fragrances

More than 100 fragrances are used for aromatic purposes, and some of them are also used in cooking.  PopuIar fragrances in addition to the three listed above are:

– Basil – used in perfume, and has a sweet and mildly spicy aroma

– Bergamot – one of the most popular oils used in perfumes

– Black pepper- has a sharp and spicy aroma

– Citronella – comes from a relative of lemongrass

Visit the Health Power website for information on other popular fragrances.  Click here.

Visualization 

Visualization creates images to communicate both abstract and concrete ideas. Examples from history include cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek geometry, and Leonardo da Vinci’s revolutionary methods of technical drawing for engineering and scientific purposes. Today, visualization has far-reaching applications in science, engineering, education, interactive multimedia and medicine.

Visualization involves forming a mental image of something pleasant as a way of relaxing, or reducing stress. The activity is often combined with making oneself comfortable by lying down, or sitting up straight with the legs uncrossed, and taking slow breaths. Then, with the eyes closed, one visualizes a peaceful nature scene, accomplishing an important goal, or something else that would give great pleasure.

Sometimes, a person receives directions on how to relax their mind and body, and sometimes a lit candle, or incense, with a relaxing aroma is used in the area of visualization, as well as soft music.

While some people use visualization for stress reduction, others search for a deeper self-awareness. As a result, they often find answers to challenging long-term questions or issues.

Laughing

Laughing has been documented to be effective in reducing stress. It relaxes tense muscles and lowers the blood pressure. Laughter can often be achieved by watching favorite comedy shows on TV, reading funny materials, or talking by phone or spending time with a friend whose personality brings joy or laughter. There are increasing research findings about the positive effects of laughter, as well as having a good sense of humor.  When you start to laugh, it (a) lightens a person’s load mentally, and (b) cases positive physical changes in his or her body.

Benefits of Laughing

According to experts,  whether laughter has to be forced at first, or comes naturally, there are often real benefits, including:

  • Stimulation and then relaxation of the body’s stress response.
  • Improvement of digestion and circulation;
  • Improvement of the immune system;Decreasing pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers
  • Increasing personal satisfaction by: (1) making it easier to cope with difficult situations, and (2) helping people to connect with other people.

Ways to Increase One’s Sense of Humor

 For those who don’t naturally have a good sense of humor, it can be learned through techniques like the following: 

  •  Find a few photos or comic strips that make you laugh, and hang them up at home or work. When you want to increase your humor, watch a funny TV program, movie, or comedy show.
  • Laugh at yourself when something happens to you that’s funny.
  • Spend time with friends who make you laugh, and also share things with them that make them laugh.

Herbs

Although studied less, herbs are also considered helpful by many. Popular herbs for relaxation are chamomile, lemon, and lavender.   In our opinion, the best current source of information on herbs, and their use for stress reduction, is the National Center for Complemeta and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH. They have an extensive list of herbs.

Much more information on Stress Prevention and Reduction is provided on the Health Power website.  Click here.

 

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