I went most of my life not really knowing anything about, or thinking anything about, aromatherapy. I knew the word and what it meant — smells making people feel better. I had no first hand experience nor did I have much interest in finding out more. Yet somehow here I am using aromatherapy on a regular basis in my day to day life, through good times and bad. The funny thing is that I started doing so without intentionally meaning to. It just sort of “happened.”
My aromatherapy story is pretty simple. I bought three little essential oil bottles — lavender, lemon, and peppermint — with the expectation of using them in homemade goodies like natural cleaners and balms. Instead, I opened the lavender and fell in love with its scent and the way it made me feel. Without realizing what I was doing at first, I started using aromatherapy.
How does aromatherapy work?
Of course, aromatherapy is more complex than “smells that make ya feel good.” Although there is no concrete explanation for the exact mechanisms behind aromatherapy, what we do know is that smells interact with our olfactory system (the body system that lets us smell flowers, skunks, food, and everything in between). In turn it’s thought that our olfactory senses interact with our limbic system, which is considered our “emotional brain” and impacts things like pulse rate, emotion, memories, stress levels, and more. This is why you may immediately think of your mother when someone walks by wearing her perfume or the scent of turnips greens cooking may feel comforting. In addition, the molecules we inhale also enter our respiratory system and other bodily systems as well when they’re absorbed.
Different scents have various impacts on us. Some may evoke memories, some are calming, others are motivating, and on and on. (Also, when it comes to things like skunks and rotten eggs, some just plain stink.) I’m definitely not a scientist, so I can’t pretend to understand exactly how scents mingle with our brains, but I can tell you first hand that using aromatherapy has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Why use aromatherapy?
We recently experienced an unexpected and difficult loss in our family when my aunt passed away suddenly. (Although, is loss ever easy?) The essential oils I use for aromatherpy saw a lot of use that week: I used them in the hospital, in my home, on my loved ones, and at the funeral. Why am I telling you this? Simple: they helped me and they helped my loved ones. One thing that my grandmother said as I rubbed lavender on her wrists in the funeral home really stuck with me: “[The lavender] will make it seem better than it is.”
I think a lot of people hear about aromatherapy and think that there’s going to be some magic smell that makes all their emotions go away (or they think that is the idea people are trying to sell them). We all know that nothing can remove your emotions and nothing can make you feel like you’re on cloud nine when you’ve just experienced something hard. At least nothing that is healthy, legal, and lasting. Aromatherapy isn’t about removing negative emotions. The way I see/experience it, aromatherapy is more about helping you manage difficult emotions.
Emotions are a part of life. We all experience things like anger, frustration, lack of motivation, sorrow, and the like. We also get to experience things like joy, love, happiness, energy, laughter, creativity, passion, optimism, and more. Aromatherapy can help optimize our experiences by enhancing the positive and aiding us in navigating the negative.
How does aromatherapy fit on a farm?
Essential oils in general have a lot of uses on a homestead, but for the sake of this blog I’ll stick directly to the topic at hand. Everyone is different and we all have different experiences, but here are some of the ways I use aromatherapy specificly as it pertains to farm life:
Aromatherapy isn’t just for humans.
Essential oils can be used on many animals around the homestead. I have used lavender for my horse before a farrier appointment and on stressed out dogs. Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a little scent-therapy now and again. I also use essential oils in homemade udder wash and fly spray. Pests are abundant on a farm, so I use essential oils to deter them as well.
Environmental threats are abundant on a farm. . . and so are funky smells.
Dirt and farming go hand-in-hand. Thus, so do germs and farming. Not all bacteria are harmful, but there are still instances where we want to cleanse the air, especially in winter. And, of course, farms don’t always smell the best. There’s manure and compost and mud and wet dogs and, well, it gets funky. Diffusing essential oils kills three birds with one stone when used this way: they remove the aromas of dirt and manure from the air, they cleanse the air and protect against environmental threats, and they lift moods.
Losses are a part of life, especially on a farm.
Loss is, in some ways, a numbers game. The more livestock (or pets, or even friends/family) that one has, the more one has to lose. All livestock eventually become deadstock, sometimes sooner than planned. Some losses are harder than others, and some years are harder than others, but if you choose to own livestock you are ultimately choosing to experience loss. Beyond loss, farming can just be a big ol’ PITA (pain in the. . .) at times. It’s a simpler life, but simple don’t mean easy, folks. Trust me.
Like I mentioned above, aromatherapy can help you navigate the often frustrating, hard, angering, and sometimes sorrowful lifestyle that is farming.
The Bottom Line
Aromatherapy has become a useful tool for me, and it has great potential to help others, too. We humans tend to stay in a constant state of stress, whether it’s from our jobs, our relationships, our homesteads, or whatever else. We are busier than ever, and let’s be honest — most of us don’t take the time to slow down and actually take care of ourselves. Incorporating aromatherapy can be an excellent way to add a little self-care to our daily routines and help us manage our hectic lives. As always, it’s important to use the best quality essential oils for the best possible results. Lower quality oils or synthetic fragrances won’t yield the same outcomes.
If you have any questions about aromatherapy, essential oils, or what oils may be helpful to you, I’m always only an email away.