*Please note: This post is not-sponsored, nor have I been compensated in any way, nor am I a —distributor of any kind of essential oils. This whole post is based on personal experiences.
I think I was about 16 years old when I got my first anxiety attack. I seriously thought I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, my chest felt tight, I was dizzy/light-headed; definitely not one of my favorite teenage moments.
Most unfortunately, that was just the first of so many attacks I’ve had over the past 15 years. The first one is always the scariest because you truly don’t know what’s wrong, so the possibility that you’re dying is pretty real to you. Once you’ve had about 400 like I’ve had, you know better.
Not to say that they don’t still absolutely suck because they certainly do, but you learn how to handle yourself when one hits and sometimes you can even notice the triggers or warning signs before the attack actually happens. Then, of course there are those random attacks that happen for literally no reason that you can determine. Those are the most fun: here you are having a good day and suddenly your anxiety level skyrockets. Then, if you’re like me, you get mad because you don’t know what the hell that was and it takes everything in your power to get your mood back to where it was prior to the attack and….it’s just annoying.
Despite having anxiety for about half my life, at this point, and despite my mental health background, I’ve never actually taken any kind of prescription medication for my anxiety, with the exception of a one month span in 2012.
I was in a very serious car accident two days before my birthday in 2012, which left me pretty mentally wrecked (not to mention physically) and sent me into a pretty constant state of high anxiety. I wasn’t eating, sleeping, leaving my house, communicating with anyone; I basically wasn’t functioning. So, my doctor prescribed Xanax to try to get me to calm down, sleep, etc. I took them as prescribed for about a month, and while they did what they were supposed to, I didn’t like how they made me feel. I just felt drugged and sluggish. I tapered off after about a month and I’ve never taken any prescription medication since then.
Now, this isn’t me knocking medication, at all. I know how effective they are and if it came down to it and I needed it again one day, I’d do it (just maybe a different medication or dosage) but I don’t want to rely on medication when I don’t absolutely need it.
I still have anxiety, I still get attacks, but I don’t want to pop a pill as my only solution to them. So, I started looking for alternatives to calm myself down physically and mentally because when you have these attacks not only is your body reacting, but your mind is racing and reacting as well, too. Trying to get your mind to calm down is harder than your body, I think.
I’m a counselor (in case you didn’t know) so I know all about deep breathing and meditating and guided imagery, and every trick in the book to bring your mind back to a calm place. But sometimes it either doesn’t work, or I don’t have the ability to sit in a quiet room for 20 minutes and imagine myself in a happy place.
A friend of mine who is really into every essential oil under the sun suggested Lavender oil to me about 2 years ago. I’d heard that lavender is one of those scents that’s meant to evoke a feeling of calm and tranquility so I wasn’t against grabbing a sample from her. I wasn’t overly anxious at that point and hadn’t really had an attack in awhile, but again they can pop up at any time, so I kept a little on hand for the next attack.
The next time I had an attack, I pulled it out and put a couple of drops on a cotton ball; rubbed a little on my temples and behind my ears, and did the smallest little rub on the tip of my nose and….it really helped.
Now, it wasn’t instantaneous or within like a minute, but within maybe 5-10 minutes, I had calmed down quite a bit. I went from maybe a 9, on a scale of 1-10, to maybe a 2.
But, I was relaxed. And that’s about the best thing you can ask for when you’re having an anxiety attack.
It’s also amazing for sleep. If you’re also like me and sometimes have problems falling asleep because you can’t seem to get your brain to turn off; this also works beautifully for that. A couple dabs again around the temples before I get into bed and by the time I’m done the chapter of my book, I’m already falling sleep. It’s wonderful.
You can also use this in a diffuser (which I don’t have, which is why I just dab it on my temples) to disperse the scent throughout a room and it will help to create a relaxing environment, which is great if you really do suffer with severe anxiety or have a huge issue falling asleep.
If you want to use Lavender, therapeutic grade essential oil works the best; it works well and doesn’t need to be diluted with a carrier oil like some really strong essential oils can be. You can get it anywhere that sells essential oils. I am not a distributor of any kind, so I don’t know about doTerra or anything like that. I have purchased it on Amazon, from Whole Foods, and even Wegmans. One small bottle can last a really long time and is totally worth the investment!