Stress is pervasive in today’s society. Without properly managing it, it can cost us our health and well-being.
In a recent article from the Restorative Medical Journal, the authors explored the impact of stress in modern life and the potential for technology-assisted mindfulness meditation to support a healthy response to it. Several well-known researchers’ work in this area, Brosschot and his colleagues, were reviewed. These researchers have identified three mechanisms that cause an unhealthy, prolonged stress response:
- Perseverative cognition: Constant thought about negative events in the past or in the future. Like Sapolsky, Brosschot argues that only humans possess the brain capacity to re-create representations from the past and to create potential representations of the future, both giving rise to anxious worrying. This perseverative cognition leads to increased physiological activity of the cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
- Unconscious stress: Humans are not consciously aware of most of the brain’s activity, which enables the body to physiologically react to stress without conscious awareness of a stress response taking place.
- Stress as a default response when safety is not perceived: This stress response needs no stressor at all; it is simply always “on” and stays on in the absence of obvious safety. It turns off when situations and surroundings are perceived as “safe” and turns back on again if the perception of safety disappears.4
By understanding these sources, we can then work to find solutions to address them. In the article mentioned, it was a suggested that the answers were found in a paradigm shift away from managing stress and to “the care and feeding of a healthy nervous system.” This could be accomplished through mindfulness and meditation, either with or without assisted technology.
Among many experts, the underlying theme for coping with stress more effectively is enhancing our resiliency and reaction to it. I discussed this in my previous article when I explored that how we view stressful events is what impacts physiological consequences, not necessarily the event itself. I also provided additional lifestyle approaches to downregulate our reactionary patterns and live more serenely.
In my naturopathic and functional medicine practice, I also use essential oils to help my clients manage stress, balance cortisol and hormones levels, and rejuvenate their brain and body. I have found essential oils, along with mindfulness practices, to also “feed and care” for the nervous system. This is because they also stop the stress cascade from the start by intervening at the level of stress perception.
In part I, I highlighted some of the best essential oils from research to decrease cortisol and mitigate stress. I also offered several applications of ones that I often use in my practice, including clary sage, neroli, and jasmine.
Now, in my latest post, I continue with more favorite essential oils from both the literature and my clinic that also have been shown to reduce stress, ease anxiety, lower cortisol, and reinstate hormonal harmony.
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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.)
Disclaimer: 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.