Experiencing chronic stress as a caregiver is common. Let me show you how to use essential oils to reduce caregiver stress. The stress you can experience while caring for a loved one is very real, and sometimes it can creep up on you unexpectedly. You may feel like you are doing fine, in control of things one day, and then out of nowhere the angst creeps in. Essential oils, although not the cure all, are a helpful tool to have in your toolbox. Using aromatherapy and essential oils can help to relieve stress, anxiety, and more. Let me show you how to use essential oils to reduce caregiver stress.
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There are 53 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, nearly one in five Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs, and 21% of these caregivers report their own health to be fair to poor. Nearly 4 in 10 caregivers, of adult age 50+, consider their caregiving situation stressful. (1)
Caregiver Stress Defined
Caregiver stress is different from an acutely stressful event like a work deadline or, heavens forbid, something more serious like a car accident. The main factor that differentiates caregiver stress from other kinds of stress is that it is usually more subtle in nature and it is chronic, meaning that subtle stress energy never really goes away.
Similar to having a chronic disease, like Parkinson’s, caregiver stress can be underlying and constant. It may ebb and flow but it is there, and as long as we are caregiving and taking care of our loved ones with a chronic disease, then we are very likely going to experience caregiver stress at some point.
Not All Stress Is Bad
But this does not have to be a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom for us caregivers. Not all stress is bad. Some stress can actually be good for us. Exercise stresses our body, and that is a good thing, as long as we take time to recover. Fasting, although not for everyone, stresses our body but it can also provide health benefits. Some stress on our bodies can be a good thing.
It is the constant continuous stress that can cause our health to falter. Continuous stress is chronic, just like Parkinson’s disease is chronic. Caregiver stress can also be continuous but today I am going to show you how I use essential oils to reduce my chronic stress.
How we perceive stress is a big factor. What one person may experience as stressful, another person may not think too much about and blow it off. Some people thrive when there is a continuous hum of low grade stress, others do not. So, how we view individual stressful moments also has a significant impact.
There are many different ways to reduce caregiver stress, and what works for one person may not work for another. Using aromatherapy and essential oils to help combat stress for me really helps, and it can be one method for you also to consider.
What Exactly Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Aromatherapy works by stimulating receptors in the nose, which then sends a message to the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that controls emotions.(2)
Aromatherapy is not an exact science, and there is limited research proving aromatherapy is helpful for health conditions. That said, for me, smell is very important, and I absolutely love diffusing wonderful blends for each and every season, and to help with the way I am feeling.
Why I Use Essential Oils To Reduce Caregiver Stress
It seems I use my sense of smell every second of the day. From the minute I wake up and head downstairs, I smell the house and I think about how others might smell my house when they wake up as guests…oh boy, is that wrong? I love the smell of freshly made coffee, baked goods in the oven, laundry, fall leaves, fresh air, candles, flowers, and basements! Say whaaattt?
Yeah…I was born in the midwest where homes have basements (think tornadoes) but I spent most of my years in California where there are no basements (think earthquakes!). So now, whenever I go down into our basement on the Cape, I love the smell!
Because my sense of smell is a strong sense for me, I use essential oils in a diffuser almost daily. I change up the oils depending on my mood and how I am feeling.
One of the more common reasons to diffuse oils is for relaxation and stress reduction, and for me diffusing various essential oil fragrances works well.
Using Essential Oils For Therapeutic Purposes
Even though there is limited research, some research does show that aromatherapy can improve mood and lessen anxiety. For example, a study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing showed that aromatherapy helped patients in the intensive care unit feel more positive and less anxious.(3)
Studies have also been done on using essential oils in relationship to pain. In this study, here, there was a purported 30% pain reduction using essential oils versus only a 15% reduction in the control group.(4)
My Personal Methods Of Using Essential Oils To Reduce Caregiver Stress
There are a few different ways to use essential oils and aromatherapy. Here is how I personally use essential oils to reduce caregiver stress.
- Inhalation – straight and simple. I just unscrew the top and take a few deep inhalations through my nose. This is the quickest and simplest method. You can also combine 1,2, or 3 different oils by holding them together in your hand and inhaling that way. Just let your nose be the guide as to what smells good for you in the moment. THESE essential oils are the ones I use all of the time, and they literally are some of the best you can get. I love their kits, and it was how I got started combining my essential oils.
- Diffusers – this is how I use essential oils to reduce caregiver stress the most often. I have diffusers in almost every room of my house. A diffuser basically emits the essential oil into the air through a mist. You fill the reservoir with water and several drops of essential oil, and then the diffuser does just that, it diffuses the essential oil into the air for you to smell. This is my favorite way to use essential oils, and here are some of my favorite diffusers. I actually have 4 diffusers in various rooms of my house. HERE, HERE, and HERE!
More great essential oil methods to reduce caregiver stress
- Body oils and lotions – this is another great way to use essential oils to reduce caregiver stress. I have lotions with essential oils to help me relax and calm down before sleep. I most often will apply these after a shower in the evening before bed.
- Aromatherapy accessories – like bracelets, car fresheners etc., I definitely use the essential oil fresheners in my car. A little DYI car freshener trick, is to just grab your favorite oil, and put a few drops on either a tissue or cotton ball, and place it under the seats of your car. Super simple and cheap!
- And an aromatherapy bracelet or necklace works really well when you are traveling, especially on an airplane when you don’t want your essential oil to diffuse and smell up the entire cabin!
- Also, HERE are some nice aromatherapy essentials for your home and car. Super fun.
- I do not recommend using essential oils for internal use due to safety concerns.
my favorite essential oils to reduce caregiver stress
Here are some of my favorite essential oils that have helped me with stress reduction and stress management.
Lavender – sweet and floral
Bergamot – citrus fresh
Frankincense – woody, musky with citrus
Cedarwood – woody and earthy
Peppermint – minty and sweet
Any of the citrus oils like lemon, orange, lime
Ylang Ylang – sweet and floral
essential oil quality and things to look for
Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA like pharmaceutical prescription drugs. Although there is ongoing research to see how we can incorporate essential oils into our wellness routines, they cannot be claimed to prevent, treat, or cure disease.
That said, finding high quality pure essential oils is important. Here are some things to look for.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can break down plastic bottles, which will in turn contaminate the oil. Look for essential oils that are housed in dark glass containers.
Look for oils that are 100% pure, and not fragrant oils that may contain toxic chemicals.
Quality essential oils will have labels that contain the Latin name of the plant, along with purity information, the part of the plant the oil was extracted from, and the country where the plant was grown.
Look for well known reputable companies that have been in business for at least a few years. THIS is the company I use for all of my essential oils – and herbs as well!
Pricing of essential oils varies widely. Some oils are more expensive than others, like rose or sandalwood, so if you find a company that is selling a more expensive essential oil super cheap…beware.(5)
I have a FREE EBOOK, The Caregiver Wellness Guide, that includes several essential oil blend recipes for stress relief, anxiety and more. You can get that guide here.
Video: How To Use Essential Oils To Reduce Caregiver Stress