The Autumnal Equinox is a traumatic experience for lots of people. Many of us associate the end of summer with the end of fun, and the shorter, darker, colder days seem like a forecast of doom. Aromatherapy to the rescue!

Aromatherapy for stress-reduction is an easy way to bring a little joy and light into every day of the year, beginning with the cycle into Fall and Winter. Showering with essential oils and reducing your dependency on personal electronics may lighten your spirits as we move through the calendar toward the shortest day of the year, December 21.

Now is a meaningful time to examine your relationship with artificial light, and the ubiquitous glow from multiple screens. Several long-term medical studies suggest that exposure to artificial light, every night, after sundown, may increase a person’s susceptibility to disease. Disturbing the body’s natural rhythms and melatonin production may be part of the reason. Much of the research examined people who work night-shifts, but most of us live in a world of artificial lighting after dark.

Aromatherapy for stress-reduction has been part of human history for eons, beginning long before the light-bulb or the LED. As an experiment this Fall, try reducing your exposure to artificial light. Accompany this exploration with the use of essential oils in the shower, and see if your stress-level feels lower after a couple of weeks of this treatment.

The essential oils of many kinds of Citrus– Bergamot and Sweet Orange, for instance–are universally recognized as mood-brighteners for their tart, yet sunny essences.

Essential oil of Lavender has been a key component in aromatherapy for stress-reduction for centuries. This beloved flower has a calming, dreamy effect and has been used in sachet, tea, soap, colognes and many other aromatic creations across the Mediterranean and Europe for at least a thousand years.

“Green” herbal essences like Sage and Basil hold an honored place in the history of aromatherapy for stress-reduction for their abilities to clear away irritation and distraction, and help focus the mind.

Heavier, sweeter aromas, such as alluring Patchouli and jasmine-like Ylang-Ylang, are relaxing, release inhibitions, and are mood-elevating when used as part of aromatherapy for stress reduction.

When you get home from work, begin by keeping the lights low. Just for a day or two at the beginning, do not turn on your television. Snap your laptop shut. Put your phone away

– no texting tonight!

Try an evening or two lit only by fire. Candles work. Just an aside– research your candles. The ingredients cause controversy these days.

Paraffin creates soot, and may be unhealthy to breathe.

Palm oil and palm wax, which may be used in “soy” candles, require clearing of forests in South Asia, in order to grow the palms commercially, and this leads to habitat loss and specifically the killing of elephants by rural villagers (it’s brutal–check it out before you buy palm products).

 

Beeswax is, well, potentially not nice to bees. So think about your choice. Bayberry and soy candles, made without palm products, may be the most eco-sound choice.

Perhaps leave one modern light on, in the kitchen or your bathroom, so you don’t trip and skewer your knee on the corner of the coffee table. But burn a few candles and don’t engage anything with a screen or a keyboard.

Well — ok, one exception. If you want to talk to friends and they can’t come over, a telephone call (old-school voice, not text) could fit into this semi low-tech evening.

If there are people around, talk with them. If not, listen to some music (another exception to the high-tech rule: mp3s OK). Or, if you have a harmonica or a ukelele, play it. Kooky. Quirky. Could put you right to sleep?

Then continue the de-stressing with an aromatherapy shower. This mellowing approach to shorter days and longer, colder nights is a gentle way to lighten some of the electronic hyper-stimulation which defines modern life.

And even if you can’t go low-tech the minute you get home, do turn out the lights and disconnect from the keyboard an hour or two before you try to sleep. Especially if you suffer from sleeplessness.  Aromatherapy for Stress Reduction, along with reduction of artificial lighting and gadget-engagement, lay the foundation for a peaceful transition into the coming seasons.