Aromatherapy as Self Care
I'm very weary of pseudo-philosophy and the trap of coming off as fake deep, so I often speak facetiously about vibes, energies and the Omniscience of the Universe. But I do think that taking some time aside for yourself ought to be a key component of your life rituals. Tapping into your spirituality manifests most commonly through an interest in crystals or tarot cards or horoscopes or, if you're like me, scents.
Last week, I finally had just enough disposable income that I was able to make a guilt-free trip to one of my favorite soap shops - Bath and Body Works. Between the adorable packaging, the variety of fragrances in soap / lotion / perfume forms, and the constant barrage of coupons and sales...it's really hard not to go crazy! I depleted (or, to be accurate - my sisters depleted) the last of my stash a few months back, so I had a lot of restocking from my personal collection to catch up on.
It's easy to walk into stores like Bath and Body Works, Lush, Rituals or The Body Shop and get immediately overwhelmed by all the scents and choices. However, I tend to enter these shops with a purpose, usually seeking out very specific smells to add to my collection, though I'm always on the hunt for new ones.
Unlike crystals or star signs, I'm not sure there's a neat glossary of the property for every fragrance, although you can certainly look up the benefits of different flowers and spices separately. (I found this list as a good beginning resource, however.) I have my own personal "scent philosophy" that guides my selection process, because different aromas conjure up particular moods for me. I'm totally okay with the subjectivity of it all, and consider that part of the fun.
I subscribe to a loose categorization of various fragrance types:
- Florals - (self explanatory) flower based scents
- Fruits - pretty much anything warm and yummy (citrus / melon / tropical)
- Herbal / Earthy - i like putting mint / oatmeal / wood-based scents here [?]
- Spice - cinnamon, ginger
- Sugars - sweet stuff...like vanilla & honey
Then I Have Mood Categories:
- Luxe: scents that make me feel glamorous, sexy, powerful
- Aphrodisiac: scents that I put on when I want to feel attractive or add a touch of romance
- Elixirs: scents that make me feel bright, youthful & relaxed
- Humility: scents that just make me feel natural, clearer - more in tune with myself
There are certain floral scents that make me feel luxurious and others that I use right before heading out on a date. Violet is a floral luxe for me, but rose is a floral aphrodisiac and jasmine is a floral humility. Coconut and almond are earthy humilities while peach is a fruity elixir. I love the endless possibilities and arrangements! There are earthy scents that bring out my childlike self and others that make me sleepy and normal. In essence, it's simply just my own system for organizing the feeling that different fragrances conjure for me and finding the best way to channel that for my own personal betterment. My favorite thing has always been to wake up in the morning and try to infuse a certain kind of energy into my day based on a different scent. Do I want to feel grounded [humility] or do I want to float through the day feeling like a bucket of sunshine [elixir]? These are the questions I have fun with.
While traditional aromatherapy incorporates a higher usage of essential oils and perhaps meditation and massage techniques or specials teas, my version of it is a little more lax and practical for the average girl, and heavily influenced by my own sensuality. I'm rather wary of the way my body responds to certain stimuli and am sensitive to things like loud noises, physical touch, and taste (I'm big on my foods not touching, for example, so as not to jeopardize the palette). There's something simple and endearing about good scents though, and they're easy and fun to collect: you can just as casually amass a batch of candles (or wax melts) or incense, and get the same effect.
Ultimately, the main goal of aromatherapy is to use aromatic essences to harmonize your mind with body and spirit! Whether you use cosmetics or candles, it's still a great way to wake up your senses, particularly not only for fun and self care but to relieve stress, aid in sleep, stimulate energy and even improve memory. Among a ton of other uses.
Speaking of memory, what's also cool is the link between recollection and the olfactory faculties in our brains! That really has more to do with anatomy more than anything else, but it's certainly interesting to know that our ability to process audio or visuals aren't tangled in the areas that handle emotions or memory. Scent, therefore, has the unique power to cultivate an entire atmosphere or energy with a single whiff. This undoubtedly aids in the efficiency of aromatherapy; its reliance on associations helps you to easily call back positive feelings through really simple means.
Above all else, I prioritize activities and rituals that help me to realign with myself. Channeling my sensuality and submersing myself in fragrances that affect my mood in a positive way is the best form of self care. I'm really excited about slowly but surely making my way through Bath and Body Works, Lush (my fave spot!), and even the soap section of Whole Foods, where they have some really good bars! I'm also planning a trip soon to a local soap shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that sells handmade products and offers soapmaking classes (I wanna sign up for one!).
I think every girl needs an arsenal of things that help her feel like her Fullest, Best Self. For me, aromatherapy is it.