What makes people stay healthy despite stressful life experiences?
Some people are more vulnerable to trauma than others. The key factor that determines whether one remains healthy despite all kinds of stressful life experiences such as loss, divorce and other traumatic events comes down to the degree of coherence in one's system.
Coherence is “the degree to which one can remain oneself under pressure” (Aaron Antonovsky) or also: the degree to which one is not overwhelmed by what is happening.
There are three factors that contribute to the degree of coherence:
It has to do with you mindset whether you are more susceptible to trauma. Trauma can create emotional barriers to how well we live our lives, even decades later. This is because after the trauma we have come to connect ourselves and our beliefs about “who we are” with the emotions that the trauma releases in us.
Can we become addicted to trauma?
Traumatic experiences trigger the release of stress hormones (cortisol) that put us in “flight mode”. We can become addicted to these hormones, as if they were drugs (in a sense they are).
When we have multiple experiences that trigger the same emotion, we not only become familiar with the emotion as a belief of the "self", but we also become addicted to the hormone the body is releasing at that moment, and then unconsciously seek or create more experiences in our lives where we retrigger that emotion.
If we regularly experience feelings of guilt or shame as children, we can attach this to our identity and seek experiences in adulthood where we can feel these feelings again.
Although these emotions are not "feel good" states, we have associated them with our identity and therefore we believe that these emotions are an integral part of our being.
How can essential oils help with trauma?
Essential oils have a direct impact on the limbic system of the brain. Researchers have shown how aromas make the brain respond. They activate the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the hormones in the body and the limbic system.
The limbic system connects the left and right hemispheres and the centers of the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems and is often disrupted after trauma. Smells are processed in the limbic system, evolutionarily the oldest part of the brain. The limbic system houses our emotions, sexual feelings, memory and learning. It also houses the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that activates our fight and flight response. When people are traumatized, this is the part of the brain that is most affected.
Essential oils are a catalyst for healing from a mind-body energetic perspective.
Essential oils alone are unable to resolve the trauma for us.
This work is in our hands!
Types of Trauma Therapy
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, gives you the opportunity to talk about your trauma and go through the healing process. It's important to find the right therapist because it's the only way you can build a trusting relationship that allows you to open up and share. Therapy is tiring and it's normal to feel worse right after therapy, but it should feel like you're recovering from an intense workout.
Essential oils can be a valuable help in dealing with this.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
CBT is a form of behavioral therapy. You learn to recognize behaviors and attitudes that have a negative influence on your life. You then work on replacing these negative attitudes with positive ones and can apply these new skills in your daily life.
If you have achieved a positive state of mind during the therapy, this state can be associated with the smell of a certain essential oil. In between sessions, smelling the fragrance can help you deal with stressful situations.
COGNITIVE PROCESSING THERAPY
CPT is often the first choice in the treatment of trauma, especially when treating the long-term effects of childhood trauma in adults. Like CBT, CPT helps teach new, more positive ways of coping with trauma-related beliefs and emotions.
These new ways of coping can be reintegrated with the help of essential oils.
DIALECTIC BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Like other forms of trauma therapy, dialectical behavior therapy focuses on better regulation of emotions. This form of therapy has been shown to be effective in helping people with suicidal thoughts. It helps teach new skills that help people change unhealthy behaviors.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR)
In EMDR therapy, you focus on the trauma while being visually stimulated. Thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations are activated while the stimulation helps to reduce the emotions and physiological responses to the trauma. Negative thoughts related to the trauma can then be processed with more positive and accepting beliefs. Here too, essential oils can be used very well in support.
Group therapy is helpful because it shows that you are not alone with your problems. In a supportive and safe environment, group members find it easier to tell their story and help others process their trauma.
A diffuser in the room and appropriate essential oils can be used to create a calm and pleasant atmosphere.
Brainspotting therapy reveals trauma, negative emotions and physical pain. A therapist directs your gaze with a pointer. The direction people look can influence their feelings. Brainspotting helps identify triggers for traumatic memories or negative emotions and can be very well supported with aromatherapy.
COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR TRAUMA
CAM therapies have particular strengths, requiring fewer conversations and disclosures than psychotherapy, and do not carry the risks of side effects like pharmaceutical approaches.
Some examples are:
- Breathing Exercises
- Progressive relaxation techniques
- Tai Chi
- Therapy with animals
- Smart Supplementation
Supporting Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used to aid the healing process and promote self-healing. Special oil blends and the application of oils to specific points (acupuncture points) on the body help to calm the nervous system and harmonize energy.
- Bergamot: Bergamot has long been used as an adjunct to therapies to relieve anxiety and fear. It has a cleansing effect on stuck feelings and limiting belief systems, instills a sense of hope and encourages sharing your feelings with others.
- Tangerine: From Tangerine essential oil has been shown in studies to have calming and anxiety-relieving properties. It can transform the darkest moods and invites you to relive the joy and spontaneity of childhood.
- Rose (Rose): Rose oil is one of the most popular essential oils that therapists use to help treat anxiety, sadness, panic attacks, shock, and depression.
- Roman Chamomile (Roman Chamomile): Chamomile can be used as an adjunct to therapies that treat anxiety, worry, irritability, and depression. It can increase feelings of inner peace and contentment. It helps to free us from meaningless activities that fill our lives so that we can focus more on fulfilling work.
- Clary Sage (clary sage): Clary Sage helps calm the emotions after an outburst of anger. It gives courage to see the truth and encourages you to remain open to new ideas and perspectives.
- Sandalwood (Sandalwood): Sandalwood helps with all kinds of relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and prayer. It has been used since ancient times for its powerful ability to calm the mind. It can help you transcend your current belief systems.
- Vetiver: As one of the most grounding oils, Vetiver help you feel more rooted in life. It is supportive for all types of self-awareness work.
- Lemongrass (Lemongrass): Lemongrass allows you to move forward, accept change and commit to your healing.
- Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang helps you process things from the heart and heal emotional traumas. It helps to connect with a source of joy that comes from within.
- Geranium: Geranium helps you to regain trust in the world and in others. It restores confidence in life and in the goodness of others.
- Lavender (Lavender): Lavender fights the fear of being seen and heard. Lavender aids in the ability to communicate honestly and openly.
- Black Pepper (cardamom): By taking off our mask and trying to understand feelings and behaviors, we allow our true thoughts and emotions to surface and start the flow of growth. Black Pepper is also used to reduce cravings for addictive substances
- Frankincense (Incense): Once you can connect with your truth, you can embrace your true purpose in the world and thereby stop being guided by the ego.
- Juniper Berry (Juniper berry): It is especially helpful when resisting the deep soul plunge required for healing. Instead of running away or hiding from the unknown, Juniper Berry to dig deeper and learn the lesson of life.
How to use essential oils to support trauma therapy
- Calm the body: To calm the body's stress response and activate the parasympathetic "rest & digest" state, apply a drop of essential oil to the base of the skull, above the heart, inside the wrists and behind the ears.
- Let go of emotions: To release emotions, apply essential oil to the little toe or the outside of the foot from the ankle to the toe.
- Reduce stress: The adrenal glands release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. To rebalance the body and calm the release of stress hormones, apply essential oil to the adrenal glands (on the back of the body, one fist from the lower rib upwards)
- Improve sleep: Severe startle reactions can disrupt the circadian rhythm and sleep. This can make you feel “tired and wired”. To improve sleep, you can apply essential oils to the crown of the head, the back of the skull and above the ears.
- Feeling of safety: the kidneys are traditionally considered the seat of courage and willpower. To reduce anxiety and promote feelings of security, strength and courage, essential oils are applied to the kidney area.
- Atmosphere of relaxation and healing: Use essential oils in your diffuser when you want to create a calming atmosphere.
- Support the body: Use essential oils in veggie capsules as a Smart Supplement. It is best to first consult an essential oil specialist for advice.
What can you do now to create more peace in your life?
There are a few simple things you can already implement in your life to create more peace in your life:
- Connect with nature (make a walk in the forest (forest bathing) and let natural light on your skin every day).
- Turn the volume down (your system is already overloaded; avoid unnecessary stimuli)
- Hug and embrace (hug your loved ones and pet your pets to release endorphins and oxytocin).
- Earth (use a weighted blanket, walk barefoot)
- Leisure (take time for self-care, choose activities that nourish your soul).
- shake it off (move the body to release pent-up energy, e.g. by dancing, jumping on a trampoline, jogging, etc.)
- Cold therapy (cold showers or ice baths increase the body's self-healing ability)
- Healthy food (you have full control over your life energy)
- Sleep well (aim to get 8 hours of sleep to give your body time to rest and heal).
You will experience that it is not a linear healing process, but rather a bumpy road with ups and downs. It is important that you create a sense of security for yourself as you learn to deal with your feelings. Create plenty of space and time to mourn the losses associated with the trauma. As you develop a new sense of self and redefine yourself, you will take the necessary steps towards self-determination and a free life. You deserve it. You are worth it.