Smell your way to happiness

Can you feel when you’re stressed? In my case, it’s a sensitivity where I am too jittery and it’s not the coffee.

Woman smelling bunch of lavender in a lavender fieldAnd it’s not lust. That’s a different pit-of-the stomach sensation.

An overload of stress can cause all kinds of symptoms, such as an excessive craving for junk food, nervous stomach, poor sleep, weight gain, headaches, low sex drive and mood swings, among many others.

When we become stressed, we produce more of the hormone cortisol – this has a number of functions in our bodies, including regulating our metabolism and immune system – but too much of it isn’t a good thing.

There are lots of ways of keeping our cortisol levels in check – including stress management techniques and lifestyle changes – which can help us feel healthier, make better decisions and generally enjoy our lives more.

Many of these techniques are holistic, and one of my favourites is aromatherapy.

The aromatherapy quick fix

Here is one strategy to deal with the cortisol nemesis.

When I get jittery, I need to stop the progression of a downwards stress spiral. I want to signal to myself that I am calm or at least calmer within.

How to do this? I start by choosing a fragrance, what is called a singular note. That means finding a pure product with one smell.

Which scent to choose?

aromatherapy - perfect for winter time - candles and orangesBasically, aroma fragrances are divided into floral, citrus and woodsy/spicy.

Floral fragrances include:

  • Rose
  • Lavender
  • Geranium

Citrus fragrances include:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Neroli
  • Bergamot

Woodsy/spicy fragrances include:

  • Sandalwood
  • Frankincense
  • Patchouli

I love them all and use them all, even though I gravitate more towards woodsy/spicy. But I know by experience that the floral and citrus scents will heal me as well.

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And so I rotate my choices and find new favourites.

Some fragrances are medicinal – I wouldn’t recommend these for stress, as you’re better off using relaxing oils.

Just a word of caution – if you’re pregnant, are allergic to any essential oils or have sensitive skin, you might need to take some advice before using aromatherapy oils.

How to use aromatherapy oils

Transdermal – through your skin

We’re always told not to apply any pure essential oil directly onto our skin.  Stay true to this but make one teeny tiny small revision.

You may use one or two drops only of an oil directly on to the top of your hand.  Not more.  Promise?

You need to apply these few drops to the hoku point. That is the area in traditional Chinese medicine that acupuncturists and shiatsu therapists use to treat headaches and is also excellent for soothing and calming.

The hoku point is on the back of the hand in the webbing where the thumb and index finger meet.  No need to be exact but be in the general area.

Carefully drop or shake out one or two drops on to the top of your hand.

Now you can simply lift your hand to your face for a sniff.  And if you are in bed at night it is very easy to get a whiff.


Drizzle one to four drops of your essential oil onto a tissue or a clean handkerchief.  You can keep this in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

This option is particularly useful for work and public places.  Who can possibly know what you are up to – unless you use too much oil and everyone in the vicinity wonders where the smell is coming from.

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And quite frankly, who cares?


Put one to four drops of essential oil on to the edge of your pillow. It’s important is to remember to only use the calming oils.

How does it work?

Aromatherapy is user friendly because it’s a natural therapeutic system assisting the body’s ability to balance, regulate and heal itself.

Aromatherapy works down to the cellular level.  The fragrance enters the bloodstream by the olfactory receptors in your nose, or transdermally, and goes to your limbic system – the portion of your brain that controls memories.

Your brain will now release certain chemicals within your sympathetic nervous system to allow you to relax.

Modern life is busy and fast paced, and adding aromatherapy into your lifestyle can really help combat some of the stresses and pressures this brings.

I have used aromatherapy successfully throughout my life. Personally it has helped me with stress, happiness, menopause, as a room deodoriser, sensual encounters, and other circumstances.

What’s not to love?

About Shirley Meerson

I’m a writer, spa expert and happiness engineer. Being a nomad lady and a cultural aficionado my bases are Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur and San Francisco – depending on projects. My passions include health, aromatherapy, beauty care, living well, healing technologies, travel and much more.