By Frauke Galia, 'The Smell Lady,' FALK Aromatherapy
There’s a saying that goes “Love yourself first because that’s who you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with.” Seems obvious on the face of it, but how often do we prioritize everyone else before ourselves. The truth is that when we neglect our own wellbeing and happiness, our ability to be there for others is compromised.
Focusing on ourselves is often seen as selfish and egotistical. But, in fact, the ability to give yourself unconditional love and to take care of your mental, emotional and physical health, especially during times of stress, is critical.
Stress is a natural part of everyday life. In fact, some stress is actually good for you because it regulates your body. But staying in a constant state of stress can have detrimental effects on your health over time. It can decrease your immune responses and affect your overall quality of life.
By practicing consistent and intentional self-love and self-care, you’re able to manage stress before it becomes constant, and you’re able to support your body’s natural relaxation response. Fundamentally, it’s the key to improving your mood and emotional wellbeing.
Using your sense of smell is a particularly useful way to practice self-care. It’s the most powerful sense we have, helping to improve our mood and relaxing our mind, so we can stop stress from taking root in our body.
So, this Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to turn the love onto you. It’s important to take time for yourself every day, even if it’s for only 15 minutes.
Here are 7 things you can do to prioritize YOU:
1. BUY YOURSELF FRESH FLOWERS
Not only do flowers brighten a space, but also their scents are known to be soothing and relaxing, and can help alleviate nervous tension, irritability, anxiety and stress. Consider choosing aromatic bouquets with jasmine, rose, geranium and lavender.
2. TAKE A WALK AND CONNECT WITH NATURE
We humans have a biological need to connect with nature. It’s in our DNA. Being immersed in nature is as critical to our well-being as regular exercise and a healthy diet. And walking among the trees and flowers not only provides exercise, but breathing in nature’s aromas is a wonderful form of aromatherapy.
3. INDULGE IN A BATH
Bathing is known for its relaxing quality. In fact, sitting quietly submerged in hot water can be both therapeutic and reinvigorating because blood flow increases to the skin. And the warm vapors released can help you breathe more clearly.
4. DIFFUSE YOUR FAVORITE SCENT
More than any other sensory experience, fragrances can trigger our emotions. Diffusing a scent that’s familiar and brings back fond memories can be a great stress reliever. That’s because positive scent memories trigger emotions in the limbic system, which in turn tell your body to relax, everything’s ok.
Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 - 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of mental noise. Try carving out 10 minutes to sit quietly, without any distractions, and eyes closed. Consider diffusing a scent and focusing in on it. When your brain is asked to focus, it clears the clutter and centers you. Your mind and body are put at ease.
6. GET A MASSAGE
It’s common knowledge that massaging helps relieve tension in your muscles and increases blood circulation. But did you know that the simple act of touching releases endorphins, commonly known as the feel-good hormone, and can improve your mood. Consider using a blend of essential oils in jojoba oil to get an added aromatherapeutic benefit.
7. MAKE A FLAVORFUL MEAL
Flavor is the key to enjoying a meal. And you’re more likely to eat a nutritious meal if you’re enjoying the experience. You may not know, but flavor comes from your sense of smell, and it’s what you smell while you’re eating that gives dimension to your food. Consider using aromatic spices and herbs when you make a meal. You’re more likely to reduce your intake of salt and sugar when you do.
Frauke Galia is a Certified Professional Aromatherapist, member of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists and founder of F.A.L.K Aromatherapy. Frauke is passionate about educating and empowering people to engage with their sense of smell and harnessing this under-appreciated sense for our wellbeing.