Aromatherapy is an effective remedy for symptoms of burnout, according to a new study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.
We all know what “burnout” means – severe and prolonged stress that leaves you physically, mentally, and emotionally wiped out.
Symptoms can vary widely, making it difficult to diagnose. However, there are a few characteristics that most burned out people share – fatigue, aches, pains, a cynical attitude toward work, and reduced productivity at the office and at home. Some people experience it as a loss of interest in anything, with little energy to do anything.
Recovering from burnout is no easy task. The good news is that aromatherapy seems to aid faster recovery. In a randomized, double-blind trial, participants with moderate burnout used personal inhalers containing either a mixture of selected essential oils or a placebo of rose water. After one week, the aromatherapy group experienced a significant reduction in self-reported burnout symptoms, while the rose water group didn’t experience much benefit at all.
Earlier research with essential oils showed that the right essential oils can reduce the body’s stress response, enhance energy levels, and curb high blood pressure. Since burnout involves all three, aromatherapy is a first-choice remedy.
The three scents that have scientific support for busting burnout are:
- Sandalwood: Just a few drops of this ancient scent can help alleviate constant worrying, says Hope Gillerman, an aromatic healer and founder of H. Gillerman Organics. Gillerman’s technique is to dab a few drops on your chest, and then close your eyes and count your inhales: Inhale one, inhale two, inhale three, inhale four, etc. When you lose count, start back at one and keep counting until you feel your tension ease.
- Citrus scents: According to several recent studies, zesty aromas (think orange, grapefruit, and bergamot) can alleviate physiological symptoms of stress. “With any citrus smell, lessened anxiety always seems to emerge as a benefit,” says Barbara Thomley, lead coordinator for the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic. People respond to different aromas, so Thomley suggests experimenting with various scents. “If you like the smell, and it has positive connotations for you, you’ll experience the most benefit,” she says.
- Peppermint: Can help curb work-related burnout during your commute: In a recent NASA-funded study, 25 participants in stressful driving scenarios reported decreased feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and frustration.