5 Tips for Using Aromatherapy to Create a Relaxing Office Environment
Stress is simply a part of daily life for almost every small business owner. When you’re wearing multiple hats, struggling with a limited budget and trying to stay one step ahead of the competition, you definitely need a few relaxation-inducing tools at your disposal to maintain your sanity. Along with yoga, meditation and exercise, one of the most popular forms of stress relief is aromatherapy.
A Little Background on Aromatherapy
While many believe that the use of aromatics for health benefits is “new age,” its roots actually can be traced back more than 6,000 years when ancient Egyptians burned incense made from aromatic woods, herbs and spices. Through the centuries, nearly every civilization has used some form of aromatherapy to help heal and cure a wide variety of ailments.
The term “aromatherapie” was first coined in the early 1900s by chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who studied the medicinal benefits of essential oils in his family’s perfume business. French doctor, Jean Valnet continued the work of Gattefosse while working as a surgical assistant in World War II. Valnet used a variety of essential oils to treat both battlefield injuries and psychiatric conditions.
For a growing number of businesses, aromatherapy is being introduced as part of comprehensive wellness programs. With many possible applications, it can be a great way to de-stress and reduce tension in a hectic office environment. The following strategies for incorporating aromatherapy into your workplace can be used alone or as a complementary modality with other health-promoting tools.
- Choose a Stress-Relieving Scent
Aromatherapy scents have been shown to affect brain waves and alter behavior in a variety of ways. For example, there is evidence that rosemary can reduce cortisol levels and boost performance and mood, which makes it a good choice for relieving mid-day stress. Like rosemary, lavender also can improve performance, but it also has a mild sedative effect, making it an option for creating a relaxing, subdued work environment or for winding down after an especially busy day. The scent of peppermint and ylang-ylang may also promote calmness and reduce stress.
- Select Your Method of Use
There are several ways to obtain the benefits of aromatherapy for relieving stress that can be used individually or layered to strengthen the effectiveness of the scents. Direct inhalation is the simplest form of aromatherapy. Simply place a few drops of a stress-relieving essential oil in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. Then, cup your hands over your face and inhale deeply several times. The healing aroma can have a quick, yet powerful effect on how you feel.
To extend the benefits of aromatherapy, aerial diffusion options that release scents into the air can be beneficial. These include candles, mists, potpourri and diffusers. Likewise, topical applications like skin lotions and body sprays can also be used to provide an ongoing source of scent throughout your workday.
- Get Employees’ Buy-In Before Trying Aromatherapy
Like with any holistic therapy, aromatherapy doesn’t have the same effect on every person. Because of personal preferences and the emotions that are created in stressful situations, scents should be carefully chosen for both the environment and those working in the environment. If you’re going to use an aerial diffusion, use only scents that appeal to everyone. Aromatherapy won’t have the desired effect if someone doesn’t like the aroma, and it can even increase stress levels in some individuals.
- Try a Custom Blend
Stress can build up in even the most peaceful of offices. Many aromatherapy experts recommend using a blend of essential oils for enhancing a calm, productive work environment.
During a particularly busy time, diffusing a blend of chamomile, bergamot and lavender can help calm down a tension-filled atmosphere. When intense concentration is required, peppermint and rosemary may promote greater brain clarity. How much clarity? One study from the University of Cincinnati showed that inhaling the essential oil of peppermint could increase mental accuracy by more than 25 percent!
Don’t be afraid to create a custom aromatherapy blend just for yourself or your team. It may even become the signature scent of your brand and a powerful way for your customers to identify you. Some businesses have even taken this concept to the next level by scenting business cards and print collateral to share their branded scent far and wide.
- Be Creative
Lighting a fragrant candle on your reception desk or spritzing a natural air freshener can certainly introduce some tranquility into your office atmosphere, but don’t be afraid to experiment with other ways to scent the air with stress-relieving, positive aromas.
Therapeutic grade essential oils can be added to an air purification system to provide a consistent level of aromatherapy throughout an office space. This is particularly beneficial if office air tends to be stuffy or stagnant.
Aromatherapy can also be used in areas other than your primary workspace. For example, a diffuser can be placed in a break room to facilitate relaxation and a few drops of a favorite essential oil can be placed inside a roll of toilet paper to scent the office restroom.
Essential oils can even be found in many natural cleaning supplies. Instead of using harsh, chemical-laden products to clean desktops and keyboards, a cleaner that contains tea tree oil or lemon oil can be just as effective while providing a more soothing scent.
Growing a small business, you’re bound to feel stress on a daily basis. To keep physical, mental and emotional health in check, incorporating strategies for relieving tension and promoting a feeling of calmness is simply a smart executive decision. Because aromatherapy is such an affordable, easy-to-implement solution, it’s well worth trying. While it may not turn your hectic environment into a blissful spa-like retreat, it could subtly help reduce stress levels and make your office smell better, too!