The Holiday Stressors
The beauty of the holidays also comes with more expectations.
Shopping, attending extra gatherings, financial strains, and additional preparations can cause added stress.
This spur of activity, on top of the already chronic overwhelm of the current world circumstances, can heighten the intensity of emotions that may be triggered by various aspects of these events.
Can you relate?
In this article, I will share more information and resources on how naturopathic medicine and essential oils can support mental and physical health during trying times.
I will also highlight how essential oils can balance the mind-body and modulate our physiological reactionary patterns with heightened levels of stress.
First, let’s look at how the holidays impact mental health and the best options to support it.
Mental Health and the Holiday Rush
The holidays can be a joy-filled season, but they can also be stressful and especially challenging for those impacted by mental illness. A NAMI study showed that 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. “
… For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression. If you’re living with a mental health condition, stress can also contribute to worsening symptoms. Examples: in schizophrenia, it can encourage hallucinations and delusions; in bipolar, it can trigger episodes of both mania and depression. The … crisis has made maintaining mental health more challenging for so many.
Using naturopathic, functional, and integrative medicine along with conventional psychiatric care can be a powerful combination to support the many people seeking emotional relief from chronic stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. Conventional methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), used with additional natural tools can complement each other to reinforce new neural pathways in a more comprehensive way.
I previously explained why I believe these two approaches are best used together:
- If one simply uses natural therapies to “feel better,” they may not be addressing the underlying cognitive distortions or mindsets that trigger the compulsion or rumination to begin with. They may become dependent on the supplement, nutrient, or essential oil. They will eventually have to keep switching remedies because the underlying thinking is not being addressed.
- If one doesn’t correct the brain health factors (e.g., hormones, nutrients, lifestyle factors, oxidative stress, genetic variations, etc.) that modulate neurochemistry and biology, it could make CBT extremely challenging. This is because biology can override psychology.
When utilizing a combination of holistic tools with traditional mental health treatments, one is likely to receive more effective results. I have seen where nutrients, supplementation, essential oils, and brain nourishing foods can make transitions and discomfort with change much easier to manage. These options can be used to assist one in moving through uncertainty and uncomfortable feelings with more ease.
In several of my posts, I’ve highlighted how essential oils can be used to support psychological and emotional balance during the holiday season. They partner perfectly with my integrative mind-body medicine training and the five naturopathic principles. They are one modality, among many, that I use and find very effective across my subspecialties of mental health, mind-body medicine, women’s health, and digestive health.
Now, let’s look at how essential oils can be used to help alleviate some of the negative mental and physical aspects of stress.
Stress on the Brain & Essential Oils
The impact of stress can profoundly affect the brain and put one at risk for, or, increase the chance of an aggravation of psychiatric conditions. This is because it can cause functional changes on the brain. Stress can increase the area linked to “fight or flight” (the amygdala) and shrink the memory center (the hippocampus). (R, R) This can result in impairment in cognitive function, emotional imbalances, and other psychiatric effects.
Essential oils are wonderful for mitigating the negative impact of stress. Instantly, their aroma can intervene and calm the brain and body. Furthermore, they address the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects simultaneously through their influence on mood, neurotransmitter levels, brain patterns, and brain function. This is why I feel they are such a powerful intervention for stress and mental health. (To learn more specific details on this topic click here.)
As noted above, when we impact psychology, physiology, and cognition simultaneously with integrative and conventional approaches, we can have the most powerful influence on brain and physical health during turbulent times.
The Physical Fortification of Essential Oils for Stressful Times
Essential oils are so much more than aromatics that contain chemical constituents that uplift the mood. They also benefit the body’s defense processes during the season of the sniffles and combat the negative impact of stress that can wear us down physically.
Through their multiple properties from a variety of compounds, they are a very potent intervention that can intercede and help mitigate the detrimental impacts of various strains on the mind-body. These include:
- Their selective ability to inhibit certain unwanted microbes while still benefiting and supporting our microbiome
- Acting as antioxidants for healthy cellular function (R, R)
- Their synergistic effects- when you reach for an oil for one issue, it will likely benefit all of your systems simultaneously
- Addressing the underlying triggers of many diseases, such as inflammation (R, R, R, R, R)
- Personalization for specific wellness concerns including mental and emotional health, attention and focus, and other body imbalances
These above wellness-enhancing aspects of essential oils strengthen the resiliency of the brain and body. This is especially needed during the holidays.
Summary: Essential Oils for Mental and Physical Health Care
I have shared how using essential oils can be a powerful means to mitigate the effects of the additional stressors of the holidays on the mind and body.
Please use them to support you and your family to achieve a more serene and joyful season. (Click here for my favorite calming holiday scents.)
It is imperative that people get the support they need, especially those who are struggling with mental health challenges.
It is also important to intervene early. This is not only because stress can exacerbate mental health issues, but as noted, it can also lead to anxiety and/or other psychiatric disorders through its consistent rewiring of brain pathways.
Furthermore, one’s mental health can have transgenerational impacts. For example, studies have shown that maternal stress experienced prenatally can result in structural changes associated with cognitive developmental disorders in the offspring.
If you are noting that you are having a hard time coping, please consult a mental health professional and not try to “go at it” alone. You may also want to supplement that care with integrative options.
Take good care of yourself and please feel free to reach out with any questions or let me know how I can support you.
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.