Essential oils have long been used to help promote emotional balance, and are perhaps best know for their relaxing properties. It’s no surprise, then, that aromatherapy is frequently used in cases of nervous tension and anxiety. But are there any lesser known applications of these calming essential oils? I was convinced there was more to the likes of Lavender and Rosewood than bedtime baths and pillow sprays give them credit for. If they were good at relieving mental stress, then surely they’d also work in terms of physical stress? By the same token, they might also work just as well in less sedentary applications. Post-exercise, for example. And so I decided to put Penny Price’s ‘unwind’ roll on to the test in a running cool down context.
That moment where you’ve completed a route, drop your pace and catch your breath is a relief in its own right, but what if we could compound the ‘and relax!’ moment with some portable aromatherapy? The very nature of running and the 'fight or flight' hormones involved mean that all your senses are heightened post-run, including your sense of smell. It’s probably for this reason that everything from food to a hot shower taste and feel so much better when you’ve put the miles in!
To this end, inhaling ‘unwind’ aromatherapy in those cool down minutes proved an especially effective antidote to the mental and physical strain of the previous half hour.
Meditation in motion Since exercise in itself is a form of stress relief, there is benefit to joining the forces of physical activity and aromatherapy. Running through a park on a summer's day harnesses the calming benefits of not just exercise, but also nature and fresh air. Adding an additional sensory stimulus heightens the efficacy of each element, creating a broad spectrum relaxant like no other. So while we might have previously taken a sedentary stance on de-stressing with aromatherapy, the key to its effective application may in fact lie in the name of those all important aroma-active ingredients!