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Essential Oils for Emotional Health

by Jodi Cohen

Emotions play a huge role in how you feel on a daily basis, how you live your life, how you see the world and how you interpret the actions of others, which has a significant impact on your physical health and your relationships

Intense emotions – including anger, fear, sadness and even love – can be challenging to process, so many of us avoid them.

We avoid through alcohol, drugs, exercise, work, social media or other strategies to keep ourselves perpetually busy and distracted, so we don’t have time to slow down and feel.

Feeling hurts and we are not taught how to process and move through these intense feelings, so we avoid them at all costs.

At least I did.

I spent my life in constant motion – literally running marathons and striving for constant But, every time I achieved my goals, like crossing the finish line for my first marathon, I felt a tremendous let down.  Working toward my goals, like training for a marathon or writing a book, kept me busy and distracted.  Actually completing the goal freed up my time and allowed space for those intense emotions to show their face.

Early in my marriage, I had attempted to support my husband’s bipolar disorder with nutrition.  It seemed to make a difference as I noticed positive shifts in his mood.  At one point, he said “It’s jarring to be this present,” before promptly refusing to continue with the nutritional and supplemental protocol and choosing instead to medicate with pharmaceutical drugs.

What I failed to understand at the time was that when you lack the tools and strategies to process through your emotions, it is far easier to avoid them.  While mild emotional detachment can offer some space to process feelings, ongoing dissociation – or the mental process of disconnecting from your thoughts and feelings, memories or sense of identity – can interfere with healing.

 

How to Accept and Neutralize Your Emotions

In order to begin to embrace positive emotions and sort through more challenging emotions, you need to start with awareness.  Once you become more aware of the emotions you are feeling, you can better understand why they might be presenting.

All of you emotions serve their own unique roles – helping us to expand or anchor. When we are checked out and unable to feel any emotion, we cannot begin to process through them.  The first step to neutralizing your emotions in recognizing the four primary emotions.

 

The Four Primary Emotions

Fear, anger, joy and sadness are the four basic emotions that lie at the root of most feelings and more complex emotions.

According to scientists from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, there are only four basic emotions that we all experience.

The Glasgow researchers looked at clear and distinct facial expressions – like wide open eyes which signal fear or a wrinkled nose which signals anger – to observe and interpreted emotional state of mind through specific facial expressions.

Emotions serve to warn and guide us in the conserving our energy and supporting our own safety while interacting and socializing with others.

At their root, emotions are just energies of differing frequencies.  The four primary emotions have an energetic quality because they allow us to act expansively with others (anger, joy) and with ourselves (sadness, fear).

Once you identify the energy at the root of emotions, you can use essential oils and other remedies to help work through and release the emotions and any emotional blocks.  It is helpful to start with the four primary emotions as they act as building blocks for the more complex emotions. More complex, or secondary emotions, like grief, jealousy and regret, are a blend of two or more primary emotions. For example, fear and anger make up the complex emotion of anxiety.

Like other emotions, anxiety changes how you see the world and how you interpret the actions of others.  Interestingly, anxiety serves to mask other emotions that you may not be able to understand or express. That said, the most effective way of dealing with anxiety is by letting the underlying emotions surface.

 

Enhancing Your Emotional Range

We all operate within a certain ‘go-to’ range of emotions. We mechanically default to emotions whenever triggered by particular events, situations, circumstances or people. The trigger event generates a reaction which leads to certain emotions being felt and regulated or suppressed.  It is this pattern that keeps us stuck and prevents us from making the positive changes we desire in our life, health and relationships.

When we become aware of our emotional responses we are able to unhook ourselves from any unhelpful patterns caused by unresolved emotions, freeing us to sharpen our ability to respond and make more productive choices.

Essential oils can be used to help calm your nervous system so you can become aware of your emotional responses and make different choices.

 

Essential Oils to Neutralize Emotions

Parasympathetic to dissipate emotional charge

Topically applying the Parasympathetic™ blend behind your earlobe on your mastoid bone helps to shift you out of emotional reactivity, allowing emotions to be present without judgment.  When you do this you’ll experience a shift, you’ll dissipate the emotional charge keeping you feeling neutral. Acknowledging your emotions from a mindful state allows you to observe your experience from a more detached, less emotional place which makes it easier to process. You can then clearly identify, name and release emotions, like “anger”, “fear”, “sadness” or “frustration”.

READ THIS NEXT: Parasympathetic Pause

 

Anger

Anger can take many forms – from rage, to blame, frustration, hostility or irritation.

Anger that we don’t process and release can get stored in your liver, according to Chinese medicine.  Any stagnation, congestion or compromise in the healthy function of your liver allows toxic chemicals to build up and accumulate in your body.  Frustration, rage, and anger tend to build up when toxins build up.

Liver Support™ helps support the release of anger, including frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, being critical of yourself or others, control issues, an inability to express your feelings, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated.

Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths.  It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion.  You can also apply it around the ankles as this is often an area where we hold resistance to moving forward in life and block the ability to receive joy and pleasure.  Start at the back of the ankle and apply under the ankle bone around to the front and back under the other ankle bone, all while allowing yourself to release challenging emotions. For more tips on detoxify emotions, read this article.

Liver™ helps support optimal health and vitality of the liver and free up bandwidth for your liver to release toxic emotions, like anger. Apply Liver™ directly over the liver (right side beneath the breast) 2-3 times daily.  You can also combine Liver™ blend with castor oil – just add 3 drops of Liver™ to 1 tsp of castor oil and rub it over the liver before bed.  Castor oil is notoriously messy, so you can either: (1) cover it with a piece of flannel and plastic wrap and apply heat from a hot water bottle (avoid the electricity of heating pads) for 20-30 minutes,  (2) wear a ratty t-shirt and let your body eat work it’s magic (3) climb into an Epsom salt bath with the castor oil and Liver™ oil and benefit from layering 3 healing strategies at the same time.  Learn more about detoxifying your liver here.

 

Fear

Fear is the emotional response to an immediate threat.  It’s defined as an unpleasant feeling that stems from perceived danger or threat. It plays an important role in survival as it alerts you to the presence of danger and allows assess our ability to deal with situations that are perceived as threatening.  It often triggers a fight or flight response to help ensure that you are prepared to effectively deal with threats in your environment.

Fear can also be triggered by anticipated threats or even our thoughts about potential dangers. When over-activated, it can feel like anxiety, nervousness, compulsiveness.

The goal isn’t to “overcome your fear” or turn it off. It’s to feel it, embrace it and learn from it.

In addition to the Parasympathetic™ blend, which helps to calm the fight or flight response, Kidney Support™, when applied over your kidneys (one inch up and out from belly button), back of neck, or around the outside of earlobes, can help dispel fear, and assist you in feeling safe.

Fear is often associated with your kidneys, two bean-shaped organs that sit on top of your adrenal glands and regulate the balance and flow of fluids in your body, by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals and electrolytes.  In Chinese medicine, fear is associated with the water element, as water is symbolic of your unconscious, or that which you do not understand and therefore might fear.  These feelings of fear and paranoia can be held in your kidneys impairing function. Topically applying Kidney Support™ over your kidneys 2-3 times daily may help calm your fear response.

 

Sadness

Sadness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of disappointment, grief, hopelessness, disinterest, and dampened mood.  While sadness is something that everyone experiences, it is ideally a transient or temporary experience. Prolonged and severe periods of sadness that can turn into depression.

Like other emotions, sadness can present as an opportunity to help you become aware of a situation or a person that we have lost or are missing. Sadness allows you to become aware of and release anything that no longer belongs to you or hurts you.

As a first step to addressing sadness, it’s important to feel safe and calm.  Parasympathetic™ blend helps to calm your nervous system when topically applied over the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone).

Once you have calmed your nervous system, you can then begin to release your sadness in small doses. The only way out is through, but there is no rush to get there.  Intense feelings are painful to release and sometimes more manageable in small doses  – think eye dropper, not fire hose. 

Essential oils can calm the intensity of the flow, allowing you to chunk the release so that it feels more manageable.  In this way, essential oils help you control the duration of the pain – releasing just a small amount of the intensity at a time, much like you would slowly and carefully unscrew the top of a carbonated beverage to gently release excess carbonation and avoid an explosion.

I recommend inhaling essential oils and gently releasing intense emotions with your exhale as a powerful strategy to allow you to micro-dose emotional release.   Essential oils and the sense of smell allow you to activate and release intense emotions and sensations over brief durations – providing a small amount of stimulus to engage your body in releasing the pain without flooding and shutting down your system or keeping you stuck in denial.

Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths. It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion.  Try to extend the exhale and really allow yourself to release the painful emotion and any associated pain and intensity

Some of my favorite essential oils to release intense emotions include:

Rose  – Applying Rose over my heart was the fastest way to calm an emotional tidal wave.  It immediately helped me feel better and more calm. Research by Noble prize-winning noble laureat Linda Buck shows that rose essential oil can counteract your brain’s response to fear. Her research found that smelling rose essential oil in the presence of predator odors (or other fear stimulus) can suppress your brain’s stress responses and hormonal signals.

Lung Support™ – According to Chinese medicine, feelings of grief and loss are stored in your lungs where they can obstruct ability of your lungs to accept and relinquish, impeding their function of “taking in” and “letting go” of oxygen and feelings. Grief that remains unresolved can become chronic and create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung’s function of circulating oxygen around the body. Lung Support™ can help release these feelings of loss and support your ability to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the capillaries so they can oxygenate blood – and eliminate carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere. Apply 2- 3 drops over the lungs, allowing yourself to deeply exhale any grief as you apply the blend.

READ THIS NEXT: Essential Oils for Grief

 

Love

Love is often defined as a pleasant emotional state that is characterized by feelings of contentment, joy, gratification, satisfaction, happiness and well-being. Love in itself isn’t actually the problem, but how we think about and relate to love.  If you had a past experience that was hurtful or disappointing, you subconscious may hold love as potentially dangerous and will actually guard against it. For example, as you begin to experience love, your subconscious may sabotage the situation to keep you safe from ever experiencing hurt again.

Love is an opening, or expansive, emotion in that it helps to create links with othersIf you have experienced heartbreak or betrayal in the past, you may subconsciously limit your experience of love to protect yourself from future hurt.  This shut down also prevents you from experiencing the positive aspects of connection and support.

Essential oils can be powerful tools to help support your ability to receive love and support.  They work in the limbic systems to help clear negative feelings and blocked emotions, thus eliminating the root causes of many self-limiting beliefs.

As you take a deep breath and breathe in the following essential oil blends, try to breathe in the deep sense of worthiness and allow yourself to receive love.  As you slowly exhale, allow your breath to carry out any patterns of low self-worth or self-limiting beliefs.

Apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ directly over the heart (left side of chest) to balance the heart and support, integrate and reset all the systems of the body, including mental clarity, physical health and emotional balance.  Heart™ blend also supports feelings of open-heartedness, expansiveness, receptivity while mitigating loneliness, sadness and grief.

During times of intense sadness, use as often as is needed (every 20 -30 minutes).  During times of normal stress, use 2-3 times daily to calm and uplift the heart and the body.

 

Featured Oils:

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References:

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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to Vibrant Blue Oils

Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!