Mind or Body?

Throughout most of the time, (over twenty years) I spent working with adolescents in mental health talking therapies were most of what I did. However for a few years I also did massage using aromatherapy oils at a therapeutic community once a week.

One of the things this taught me was just how inextricably linked the mind and the body are. Think about when we are in danger – fists might clench, jaw becomes tight and our heart rate increases. Just some of the symptoms of the fight or flight mechanism that our body has.

Because of the way we evolved, this mechanism also applies to psychological threats. How will our manager react if we have made a mistake at work, or even when there is a problem, will they blame me?

Think of the language we use – someone who is experiencing long term stress, – “They look as if the weight of the world is on their shoulders.”

Sometimes, with long term problems it can be difficult to tease out which came first, the psychological problems or the physical as they can get caught up in a positive feedback loop where each if not exacerbating the other at least acts to keep it in place. Long term physical illness very often leads to depression which makes it difficult to engage in any rehabilitation exercises.

The good news is that the link between mind and body can act in a positive way too! Clients who come for a massage feel more relaxed afterwards and both body and mind feel better. A lessening of physical pain eases depression. A lifting of depression also reduces the level of pain experienced.

This is why I always choose oils for both physical and mental states. Bergamot and Frankincense, ease depression and anxiety but are also good for easing indigestion, interrupting possible positive feedback loops. Rosemary can help with indecision as well as easing muscular pain.

Every single oil I use has both psychological effects and physical effects so there will always be combinations of oils to address both sides of a problem. Ideally I try and find between three and five oils to cover the different aspects, with each problem a client comes to me with being addressed by at least two different oils and each oil addressing at least two problems! Because the physical and psychological ways the oils work are different this increases the chances of the oils doing their job.

Add to this the effect of the massage and you have a treatment that can really make a difference. And if you want to talk as well, no problem! I have some clients who talk throughout a treatment and some who sleep or seem to sleep through most of it. Both are OK!