Tag Archives: Anxiety


Top reasons for having an Aromatherapy Massage.

Knowing why my clients come to me is important in making sure I keep a stock of the best oils to help them. My two guides to this are firstly and most importantly the clients whom I actually see or who consult with me via Skype.

The second is the enquiries that are generated by my website and the pages that get the most hits. This year because I did a promotion for the page, back massage has received the most hits and don’t get me wrong, a significant proportion of my clients do come for issues with their backs, especially if  you include neck and shoulders in that. But by far the biggest proportion of my clients come for issues to do with depression and anxiety. I would also say that most of these have depression or anxiety because of significant traumatic life events.  I see a few clients where genetic factors play a much larger part but they are the minority.

Bergmot, Bitter Orange and other citrus oils are a must working with these clients. They are particularly good for the client who feels stuck. They are also good for some of the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety such as lack of appetite and constipation. Rose is another oil I would not be without. It soothes anxiety and is particularly good for those dealing with grief be that for a childhood they didn’t  have or the loss of a close friend or loved  one. Frankincense completes my first line triad for depression, in particular if agitation or anxiety are also present. Both Roman and German Chamomile can also be good for this.

Once a client comes to me these oils are also good for building self confidence and helping the client to really believe that they are worth it. This last is probably the biggest barrier to depressed and anxious individuals coming for massage. They give themselves the message that they don’t deserve good things and often blame themselves even when the blame is  patently with another, e.g. an abuser.

Interestingly, I find that at least one in ten of the clients that are depressed also have back pain.

Do follow the links on this site and get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibility of having an aromatherapy massage treatment for anxiety, depression, back issues or anything else.



Clients as Experts

This is a subject I keep coming back to in my mind and thinking even when I don’t write about it. On the physical side, it is the client who knows all the little things they do to avoid feeling pain from an injury that has become chronic, sitting in a particular chair, turning in one direction rather than another  whenever possible, leading with one foot rather than another when climbing or descending stairs. (This may be different in each case.)

In the same way, the anxious client usually knows which situations they avoid and the things they say to themselves to get through difficult situations. The client with PTSD knows at least some of the likely triggers for them. They know which people to have around them to reduce the chances of being triggered and they usually though not always know what the initial event or events that led to the trauma is or are.

As a practitioner, it is my job to get as much of this information from the client as possible. This makes  it less easier to come up with a clear formulation as to how to proceed. Some  clients will happily strip off in front of me while others would be made too anxious and I would always leave the room. (My default position unless they start getting undressed before I have the chance to say I am leaving the room while they do so.

Some clients want a deep tissue massage to work out tensions in muscles whereas others need something which is much more nurturing in nature. and unless I can really empower them to find their internal expert, I won’t be able to choose the oils that are the best combination for them or do the best massage for them.


Change Your Mind?

When I worked at in-patient child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) units, it was not unusual for parents to ask  staff if we couldn’t just change the way a young person’s mind worked. Sometimes, particularly if the young person was particularly disruptive or on a particularly destructive path, I or another member of staff might be asked to, “sort  your patient out!” I would even sometimes be asked if I couldn’t do something with my aromatherapy in this regard. (This not withstanding the fact that the ethos of the therapeutic community unit where I practised aromatherapy  was to avoid the use of the heavy handed psychiatric drugs except as a very last resort.)

So, what can massage and aromatherapy do to change the way someone thinks?

At the IFPA (my professional body) conference at the weekend, I heard from someone who worked in schools and one of the things they did was to have a vapouriser in the cloakroom when the children came in which used Frankincense oil which was found to greatly reduce the number of incidents involving aggression during the day. The project also gave young people who had been excluded from school, 5ml oil bottles with cotton wool in then with a few drops of essential oils that they found helpful that they could sniff when they found something difficult. – This over a number of schools has resulted in zero exclusions whereas prior to that these were commonplace.

What I would say is that for individual work on psychological issues whatever the age of the client, just as in psychotherapy, they have to want something to be different and ideally want to change how they are in the world. (I would guess anyone who has done any sort of psychotherapeutic work with clients has had people who say they would be all right if it were not for other people!) – Of course, in the case of those being abused whatever their age, they would certainly be a lot better off without the abuse even if it didn’t solve all their problems.

So what specific benefits can Aromatherapy provide for someone who is unhappy about the way their mind works and wants to change it?

Firstly, almost without exception, those who come for massage and aromatherapy are calmer after a session. Mindfulness is always helpful for those trying to change their minds.

Rose oil encourages acceptance after loss or emotional injury. Pine is helpful with confidence. There are many other oils that are helpful with just about every psychological condition but just as with psychotherapy this does depend on the client’s readiness to change. However once ready essential oils can make a real difference to the speed of change and can often be the trigger that enables the change to start showing.


Anxiety follows a good time. Why?

I was asked this question by a client recently. She suffers from panic attacks, usually at home and in situations which shouldn’t (in her mind) be a cause for any anxiety. This has reached the point where she sometimes avoids good things because of her fear of having an attack later. This pattern is one I see both in my Central Cambridge and my Trumpington Practice.GEDC1747.JPG

As well as giving a massage using oils which help with anxiety we also talked about some of the things she had been taught about dealing with her panic attacks. Mindfulness exercises had been suggested including concentrating on her breathing. However judgements made her give this up because she thought she was no good at them.

What went wrong? Well as someone who has taught mindfulness to others over many years before leaving the NHS I quickly discovered that my client had not been taught what to do if her mind did wander. The thing to do is to on noticing that one has started to daydream or think about something else, just notice it and return to concentrating on one’s breath (or other mindfulness exercise.) Mindfulness is not a competition! The exercise is about returning to full concentration on noticing that it has gone. There is nothing wrong about having one’s mind wander!

As to the question about why a panic attack often follows feeling good the clue is in the research on the body’s response to anxiety. Thy physiological response, including raised pulse rate, the chemical changes etc to anxiety is exactly the same as the body’s response to excitement. The only difference is the label that we put on the sensations.

At first this doesn’t make much sense unless we look at some examples where the two sensations where the dividing line between the two is very thin. A white knuckle ride at a theme park is one example. Is it fear or excitement? The same is true of a difficult ski run.

A friend of mine who used to be an Olympic gymnast at one point could not do a good performance with an audience of less than about five thousand. With this number his adrenaline levels got up to the level he needed!

Of course another factor is that fear of panic attacks makes them more likely so work on realising that panic attacks do not kill or whatever her fear behind them is will also be important.

Mindfulness is important for me as a practitioner too and when working I too have to notice if my mind does ever wander and bring it back to my client and their needs. This helps me to stay more focussed and to improve the quality of massage I can give.

To book an aromatherapy massage for anxiety or any other reason

call 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com



Each element should have multiple functions.

This is one of the principles of permaculture and if a health practitioner, (mainstream or complementary) follows this guideline along with its counterpart that each function should be supported by multiple elements it greatly increases the chances of success in treatment.

Frankincense for instance, is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, calming – one of the best oils for dealing with stress and depression. It has a number of other therapeutic properties. Massage can relieve both pain and stress, aid healing after injury, help with depression and many other conditions.

If we take just one of the conditions I mentioned above,  depression, then massage can be combined with a number of different oils that can help with it. (The same principle can also be applied in mainstream mental health work – anti-depressants can be used alongside talking therapies.) The aromatherapist, however has the advantage that a combination of up to four or five oils is not going to risk dangerous drug interactions that combining several antidepressant medications might. Frankincense, might be used alongside bergamot or lemon along with Jasmine or Rose oil. Rose is also anti-inflammatory, and is particularly good at healing emotional wounds from loss or abuse. Bergamot along with the other citrus oils is ideal for helping to move the stuck energy which often goes along with depression.

Of course, there is also the effect, particularly with psychological conditions of having an hour or ninety minutes which is my preferred length of treatment to oneself. – Much of the research into treating anxiety and depression with complementary therapies tries to control for this by having someone spend time with the control subjects, allowing them to talk. – Some studies compare the complementary therapy with standard treatment against just the standard treatment. Missing out the standard treatment is seen as unethical if the standard treatment has a good evidence base.

If you are looking for an aromatherapy massage, in Cambridge or Trumpington whether just to feel better or as an addition to the treatment you are already receiving for either a psychological or physical condition

call me on 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com


Anxiety and Depression in the news. – Massage and Aromatherapy more relevant than ever!


Yesterday Anxiety featured on the Radio4 Today programme on the BBC. Today there was an item on depression. Both of these features pointed out the frequency of the problems, the first saying how much more common it was than had been thought and also gave information about the demographics with women and those under 35 being disproportionately affected.

Today’s piece pointed out that one in eleven of us (in UK) are taking antidepressants but that these will only work in half of those taking them! One thing that did strike me was that the person heading the research team that was looking at a blood test that could in most cases predict whether they would work or not pointed out that depression was not, “all in the mind” and that it affected the whole body, some would have raised levels of inflammation in the body and for this group, one particular class of antidepressants would not work.

Of course, it is not just depression that is experienced in the body as well as the mind. The whole language around anxiety tells us this – butterflies in stomach, sweaty palms, pulse racing etc.

It is because the body is so involved that massage and aromatherapy can be so helpful. I have seen this time and again in my Cambridge practice. Incidentally it is Cambridge where one of these two pieces of research came from.

To book an Aromatherapy Massage or just to find out more about how it might help you, phone 07939 273 569 or

email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com


More on pain, fear and anxiety.

Pain as I have said before is part of the body’s warning system. It stops us putting our hands in fires and prevents many other injuries. Fear and anxiety too are useful. Without them our ancestors would not have survived the large predators prevalent in their environment and as for ourselves, most of us would have been mown down by cars.

And yet, pain and anxiety make up a large proportion of the reasons people come to see for aromatherapy and massage appointments in Cambridge not just me but other practitioners and of course the traditional medical system.

Thinking first about pain. Unfortunately it is a blunt instrument. In some ways it has to be as if it went off after alerting us to a problem, the odds are we would then delay dealing with the problem causing it or not deal with it at all, in many cases causing further damage. (Stopping us creating further injury to our bodies after the initial trauma is another major function of pain.) However sometimes, even when there is no clear reason for it’s continued presence (as in Fibromyalgia) the pain continues. Other times, such as in arthritis, we may know that continued use of the joint will cause damage in the long term but the pain doesn’t recognise our choice to do so and go away. Yet many in chronic pain recognise that being able to get on with their lives is a better choice than the pain controlling everything they do. This is not a judgement on those who are unable to take that control, rather an observation that where it is possible this can be helpful.

I referred earlier to the way anxiety serves to keep us safe, this is true both in a physical sense and a psychological sense. Again the problem comes when our brains either turn it on when there is no need or won’t turn it off resulting in what psychiatrists call a, “generalised anxiety state.

Both pain and anxiety can be helped with massage and aromatherapy with some essential oils such as German Chamomile being useful for both. Indeed any oil that reduces anxiety will tend to be helpful to some extent with pain because anxiety increases the perceived level of  pain experienced so other oils such as Lavender and Frankincense can also help as can those used for depression such as Bergamot.

Listening and by that I mean really listening and showing understanding can also help with both of anxiety and pain. One of the most common phrases I have heard from sufferers of both is, “No one understands.” I will always say that I can not experience what you have but I can tell when someone is screaming either physically or metaphorically for help because the effect on them and their lives is so extreme.

Of course, not all of my clients with either pain or anxiety or even depression issues are at that point. Some come with a lesser pain which while not severe is still there most of the time and nagging at them. Some want help with anxiety that crops up regularly in a particular situation but isn’t all pervasive.

So if you want help with pain and or anxiety or depression  and live in or near Cambridge, contact me on

07939273569 or dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com