As described in this clip, you don't have to let your knee-jerk reactions control your life–you have the power to train your brain and actually alter the way your body chemically responds to a stressful situation.
Fight or flight mode is a very important human survival tool if you're being chased by a bear, but unnecessary if you feel your heart racing every time your boss asks to speak to you.
When you're triggered, and the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released, all of your energy is spent heightening your senses and giving you only the essential information for survival–which does not include serotonin, the happiness hormone.
When you find yourself in a state of stress constantly, your receptor sites for serotonin can actually shrink, and you can become in the habit of releasing adrenaline constantly–hello burnout.
So how can you partner with your chemistry to manage your hormone production? You can understand your triggers, and work to prevent the release of stress hormones. If you feel your heart start to race–and you know you’re not being chased by a bear–you need to signal to your body that you are safe, and that you don’t need to fight nor flee.
One method for bringing your heartbeat back to normal is called box breathing–a technique used by Navy SEALs to reduce anxiety and keep calm. You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and repeat this cycle until you feel your body start to relax.
How can Aromatherapy be a powerful tool to train your brain?
Your sense of smell is actually directly connected to your limbic system–the emotional part of your brain that controls your hormone production.
This means you immediately feel about a smell often before your brain can even identify the source. You take in information from your surroundings so that your brain can trigger the hormones that you need to survive. That's your body's way of helping you gauge your safety in any given situation, and respond accordingly.
Think of the last time you smelled smoke. You sense it through your nose before seeing or hearing anything, and are immediately alerted to pay attention. Then your cognitive skills kick in to help you determine where it's coming from, so that you don't freak out over what you know is a barbecue nearby.
Likewise, when you inhale something soothing, you're signaled to relax, and you don't produce stress hormones. The more you can signal your limbic system to remain calm, the easier it can be to bring yourself to that place when you start to feel agitated.
These signals are more powerful than we realize. We can take advantage of the positive associations we can form to help us train our brains.
In the "health" section of our site we've written more about the power of aromatherapy, and why it is so important to pay attention to quality when it comes to essential oils. Check out our favorite producer, dōTERRA, learn some money-saving tips, and explore our DIY section for fun!