Did you know: Of the more than 3 dozen organs in your body, your brain is the most energy-expensive organ of them all—it takes up a whopping 20%!
That’s because your brain is the captain, the leader of the body. And, more so than any other organ, it encapsulates who you are, your personality, your potential, and your wellness relationship with the rest of your body!
Needless to say, we should all have brain support at the top of our wellness-and-self-care lists. But how can essential oils help?
4 Best Practices for Using Essential Oils to Support Brain Health
Essential oils are powerful by themselves, true. After all, they are filled with antioxidants, terpenes, and other useful properties that can help the brain stay young, healthy, and high-functioning.
But since your sense of smell is so adaptive by nature, you’ll get the greatest brain benefits out of your essential oils when you combine them with other brain-healthy habits!
#1 Make your oils a part of an effective and regular bedtime routine
Sleep is essential fuel for your brain.
And your sleep needs to be long enough, deep enough, and regular enough to keep your brain running in peak condition.
(And if you get less sleep than you need OR your sleep is low quality—your brain will pay the price. It can take the brain 4 days to recover from just 1 hour of lost sleep!)
Fortunately, essential oils are great for creating an effective bedtime routine, one that will prepare your brain and body for sleep so that you can get all the quality sleep you need!
Try diffusing or topically applying essential oils at night as you:
Read, write, listen to music, or engage in other relaxing activities.
Go through your nighttime hygiene routine.
Do some pre-bedtime stretches (these help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep).
Top recommended oils: Lavender, Chamomile, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Black Spruce
2. Use oils to support your brain-stimulating activities
There’s a reason we hate being bored—our brains were built for stimulation!
We need a regular dose of challenge, exploration, and/or novelty to keep our brains active and in shape!
Often this means regularly finding our way to “the zone”—that mental state where we are energized, focused, and, hopefully, enjoying the challenge before us. But “the zone” can be elusive when we are distracted, tired, or simply let our brains spend too much time on autopilot.
This is why it is great to use essential oils to help get us in “the zone” and prolong our stay there!
The trick is to make a habit (in your spare time or in formalized half-hour sessions) of regularly engaging in mentally-stimulating activities and always have your favorite stimulating oils diffusing nearby when you do—even if your brain hasn’t quite ramped up yet.
Keep these oils going while you are “in the zone” and your brain will get better and better at accepting them as a cue to kick it in gear!
Mentally-Stimulating Exercises to Try:
Begin a new and challenging hobby
Solve word and logic puzzles
Play memorization games
Engage in intensive learning
Explore a new environment, attempting to create a mental map as you go.
Top recommended oils: Rosemary, Spearmint, Lemon, Orange, Black Pepper, Vetiver, White Fir, and Frankincense
3. Use oils to reduce your stress levels (and even increase your ability to cope with stress).
Mental exercise is good—but too much mental stress is a killer.
Too much stress can break down your brain’s ability to recover, accelerate aging, sabotage other parts of your life, limit your growth, and just make you plain miserable!
Fortunately, there are three main things we can do to manage our brain’s relationship with stress:
- Be self-aware and never let our stress levels get too high.
- Assist the brain in its efforts to recover daily stress.
- Expand the brain’s capacity to cope with stress.
And, what do you know—all three of these strategies can be supported by essential-oil use!
Aromatherapy can help with all of these goals, especially when combined with other stress-combative practices like:
- Yoga and other movement-based practices
- Relaxing hobbies and crafts
- And more
Top recommended oils: Lavender, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Cardamom, Frankincense, Patchouli
4. Use oils to help you exercise.
Exercise is great for your brain. It increases the overall energy your brain has access to, reduces stress, stimulates the growth of new brain cells, and can even help prevent age-related cognitive decline!
You can do both your body and your brain a favor by exercising regularly. And while the planning of your exercise routine falls to you, essential oils can help you find the motivation, energy, endurance, and focus you need to follow through on your exercise plans!
To support your exercise routine with essential oils:
- Use energizing ginger and citrus oils to help you feel energized and willing to start exercising.
- Use peppermint and eucalyptus oil (note: do not ingest eucalyptus oil) to open up your lungs and improve your exercise performance and endurance.
- Use cool or warm oils (your choice!) to treat your muscles post-workout and help you relax and recover.
And if you are new to exercising remember that it’s okay to build up your exercise habits with baby steps. Remember: the key to creating new habits is diligence, not intensity.
Top recommended oils: Ginger, Tangerine, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Clove, Wintergreen
What else can I do to support my brain health?
- Make time for social interaction.
- Get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet (found in certain breads, fish products, flaxseeds, and supplements).
- Watch your blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood alcohol levels.
- Declutter your living space.
- Visit nature often.