The writing life is a constant rollercoaster of ups and downs. One day you’re struck with inspiration and don’t dare to pry your hands away from the keyboard even if the house is on fire. Other days, you doubt every single word you wrote the day before. Whether it’s the inspiration to create, the confidence to follow through with your ideas, or the anxiety of releasing your work for the world to see, we writers constantly juggle the highs with the lows from day to day. How can you keep these conflicting emotions from getting in the way of your work?
Since becoming a full-time writer, I have found aromatherapy – the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being – to be incredibly helpful in balancing my many moods and feelings around my work.
Scents have the power to elicit emotional responses, create moods and aid our memories, all of which can enhance the creative process. Our olfactory sensors transmit impulses to the limbic system, which is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. Because of this, essential oils can have exceptional physiological and psychological benefits.
The most popular way to improve a person’s mood and focus is to use essential oils aromatically, whether you directly inhale the scent from the bottle or diffuse oils in your home or office. Diffusion is any method or device that disperses the essential oil molecules into the air. Plugins, mist diffusers, even necklaces – there are several ways to diffuse oils in your writing space.
This holistic technique can be beneficial at many stages in the writing process, both on a daily basis and at different stages in your career. Here are 5 ways aromatherapy can enhance your writing life:
1) Spark Creativity
Inhaling pure essential oils stimulates our senses and emotions, releasing energy that allows us to fill the blank page with our imaginations. When you’re starting a new writing project or brainstorming a new scene, diffuse eucalyptus oil for a fresh smell that aids in boosting creativity. This scent promotes mental clarity and enthusiasm. Frankincense is another scent that is uplifting and promotes creativity and performance.
2) Inspire Confidence
Many writers face several rejections before their work is accepted. To succeed in this field, you have to believe in yourself enough to follow through with your work. Certain essential oils work as natural stimulants that relieve nervousness and anxiety. Cypress oil boosts confidence and awareness in a calm, relaxing manner. Grapefruit has cleansing and balancing effects that aid in lifting your spirits when they’re down.
3) Revise with Focus
Writing and rewriting takes deep focus, and it’s easy to get distracted when you work on a computer all day. Cinnamon raises focus while promoting feelings of happiness. This warm, delicious scent can instantly lift and motivate the senses. Sandalwood is another scent that promotes mental clarity. Because of its ability to increase attention, sandalwood is often used for meditation and spiritual rituals.
4) Ease Pain
Sitting at your writing desk for hours can cause tension in your body. Typing affects your hands, the computer screen can bring on headaches, and sitting too long can strain your neck, shoulders and lower back. Definitely start by getting up and stretching, but if the pain persists, apply peppermint oil to a sore spot to alleviate stress and tension from the area. Marjoram is known for its calming properties as well. Apply topically to relieve tired muscles. Essential oils likely won’t prevent muscle tension from happening, but they work well to reduce or relieve your pain.
5) Relax and Unwind
Using all of these brain muscles for focus and creativity can leave you exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s hard to turn your mind off after you’ve been immersed in your story for hours. Diffuse lavender, a nervous system restorative that helps promote inner peace, sleep and restlessness. Vetiver is also known for its tranquil and grounding properties, helping with calmness and stabilization.
Diffusing oils adds a beautiful scent to your workspace, creating an uplifting energy for your writing environment. You can also add them to a carrier oil and dab them on your skin.
While the oils listed here are commonly known for their respective properties, scents are different for everyone. Experiment with different scents and take note of any emotions you experience. See what works for you!
Have you used aromatherapy in your writing process? What scents work for you?
Michelle Chalkey is a Des Moines-based freelance writer and content strategist. When she is not blogging for businesses, she is dreaming up her next young women’s issue to explore in a short story. Tweet her at @michellechalkey, visit her Facebook page, or check out her thoughts, ideas and advice on the writing process on her blog, michellechalkey.com/blog