Essential Oils For Post-Lockdown Anxiety
As most lockdown restrictions have now been lifted people are being encouraged to return to work or get back into a regular routine.
However, many are reporting feelings of anxiety and apprehension at the prospect of venturing outdoors every day.
It’s ironic that we’ve been desperately wanting to get back to normal, but now that we can, many of us are apprehensive about doing it. Watching the news and reading social media reports doesn’t exactly help create the feeling that we’re getting back to normality either.
Not surprisingly, a survey by Ipsos Mori revealed that more than 60% of people in the UK are uncomfortable at the prospect of using public transport or venturing out to restaurants or bars. Even the recent inducements such as ‘eat out to help out’ with 50% off the cost of a meal was not enough to tempt many people out during the campaign.
The very idea of going back to the old routine is enough to provoke anxiety for many people, because staying safe by working at home for the past 6 months and leading a simpler life has been generally recognised as a better way of living. The world has certainly changed dramatically during this time, so the prospect of resuming our old lifestyles that were considered safe is now creating genuine fear for many people.
Mental health professionals have seen a sharp increase in patients reporting anxiety about leaving the house and life after lockdown, and the mental health charity Anxiety UK has described the fear or worry of returning to normal life after lockdown measures have eased as ‘Post-lockdown anxiety’. Of course, it’s only natural to hold fears about spending more time in close contact with other people since coronavirus is still with us, and a cure for it is not yet available.
Symptoms of post-lockdown anxiety
If you find yourself constantly checking the news or social media about Covid-19 and changes to the lockdown and travel rules, this could be an indication that post-lockdown anxiety is starting to get to you. Nightmares, trouble sleeping, recurring worries about the future, and feeling unsettled or tense are other common indicators.
The most common symptoms appear to be apprehension about the future, and worrying about being in public spaces or leaving the house. At its most extreme some people are suffering from panic attacks and experiencing sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath or breathing very quickly or feeling sick. Panic attacks are more serious than anxiety attacks in that they can be unprovoked and unpredictable, lasting from 5 to 30 minutes. Although frightening, they are not dangerous unless they are allowed to continue without some type of treatment, so if you are experiencing this condition repeatedly you should seek medical help.
While being anxious is totally understandable it’s also important that we don’t let it prevent us from enjoying our day-to-day lives. It could be some time yet before a COVID-19 vaccination is made available to the general public, so we all need to find a way of getting on with our lives without constantly living in fear and dread of catching the disease. Living under such stressful conditions for long periods causes serious disruption to the body’s immune system, which can then lead to all manner of illnesses.
Essential oil research
Fortunately, there are several essential oils that can help alleviate feelings of uneasiness, uplift your flagging spirits and promote a better, stronger, more positive state of mind. Using essential oils is a natural and proven way to help reduce the symptoms of nervousness and restore positivity, and this is precisely what makes them ideal to help calm the fears and apprehension associated with post-lockdown anxiety. And there’s plenty of evidence to support this.
In a 2012 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers found that essential oils commonly used to treat stress, such as bergamot, lowered heart rate and blood pressure following short-term exposure. In addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, this has positive effects on the symptoms of anxiety. An increased heart rate and blood pressure are common signs of anxiety and by using essential oils researchers found these symptoms to reduce.
In 2007, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that aromatherapy massages given to nurses working in accident and emergency reduced anxiety levels dramatically. Participants in the study received massages while listening to music over a 12 week period, and during both study periods the number of staff feeling stressed fell from 65 percent down to 8.
Essential oils for post-lockdown anxiety
Relaxing and calming essential oils such as clary sage, Roman chamomile, melissa, neroli, rose otto, sandalwood, vetiver and ylang ylang can all help to instil a feeling of calmness, and may be used effectively on their own or in combination with other appropriate essential oils mentioned here.
Research has shown that the most powerful therapeutic benefits of ylang ylang essential oil are that it lowers blood pressure and eases tachycardia (rapid heart beat), deepens breathing and has a calming effect on the central nervous system. It also eases stress and lifts depression, so this is an ideal oil to ease all forms of anxiety and stress. Carry this oil with you so that you can inhale a few drops directly from a tissue if you feel an attack is imminent.
Some of the essentials oils aromatherapists use most commonly for treating general anxiety are bergamot, lavender, frankincense, sweet orange and patchouli. These essential oils would be ideal to use at home to help you through the transition back to a normal routine if you are anxious about going out:-
Bergamot essential oil
In 2011, a study at the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that bergamot essential oil worked to reduce hormone responses to stress, thereby suggesting it could be an effective means to treat anxiety. It is known as an uplifting oil that is believed to have a balancing effect on the nervous system. Add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser while meditating or add eight drops to a warm bath and agitate the water.
Lavender essential oil
This is a highly versatile essential oil that can be used to treat multiple ailments, including anxiety. A study at United Hospital in St Paul, Minnesota USA, found that systematically using the essential oil reduced preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. It also has benefits among other anxiety sufferers and research has shown applications of the oils – whether through a burner, massage or warm bath – can reduce symptoms.
Frankincense essential oil
Frankincense is a sedative essential oil and can be used to relax anxiety sufferers. It helps to promote deep breathing and can reduce blood pressure, thereby restoring a calm to the body. Prior to a potentially stressful situation or when feelings of anxiety build up, use frankincense essential oil in a burner or vaporiser. Breathe deeply and relax.
Sweet orange essential oil
Studies have shown that sweet orange essential oil has the ability to treat both the subjective and physiologic measures of anxiety and stress. It improves mood and decreases cortisol levels, calming the body’s various systems. Add four to five drops of sweet orange essential oil to 10ml of carrier oil and massage into the back of the neck, wrists and the bottom of the feet. Do this before meditating for a powerful treatment.
Patchouli essential oil
This essential oil has a balancing effect and is used to help combat insecurity and negative emotions. Like frankincense, patchouli essential oil is a sedative that can help to relax those with anxiety. If you find yourself worrying about going out add eight drops of oil to a warm bath and agitate the water well to ensure even dispersion.
To get the best help from these essential oils simply choose 2 or 3 from the list above and dilute them in a carrier oil and ask your partner to give you a back massage. If this is not practical then the oils can be used in a nice relaxing bath, added to a diffuser, or even inhaled directly from a tissue when you begin to feel anxious.
When essential oils are used safely and correctly, they can help you maintain a relaxed and calm state of mind which will really support you through this challenging time until you regain your confidence and get your life back to some sense of normality.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2020. Written by Geoff Lyth