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Arguably, everyone in the whole world is under stress of some description. It might be positive stress, or the sort joggers voluntarily put themselves under, or the negative stress that comes , for example, from sitting in a open-plan office with a dozen telephones ringing at any given point in time. The kinds of stress and degrees of it are manifold, and so the oils we use and the combinations must reflect this diversity.

First of all, let us distinguish between positive stress, normal stress and distress. Positive stress could be described as a 'high', the excited tension you get when performing your job fast and efficiently. it is, indeed, this kind of high that makes people enjoy working in the first place: the sheer joy of being a human being accomplishing something, whether that's whizzing through the in-tray or writing a book.

Positive stress makes us aim that little bit higher, leap over the pitfallslife pesents to each and every one of us, and gives us that force to take on challenges. This is the kind of energy that increases stimulation, helps our energy level and makes creativity flow. And as it contributes to our feeling good, we obviously don't treat it with with essential oils. We don't need to.

Normal stress is a normal state during which the body performs its functions for survival in response to circumstances. For example, when you have a car accident the body is flooded with adrenalin which causes all kinds of physical phenomenon - everything goes into slow motion, for example, or pain cannot be felt. The out of the ordinary stress caused by accidents is all to the good because it increases our capacities and efficiency.

Your heart may be pounding, you are shaking all over but somehow you manage to walk to the phone box to call for help.' I don't know how I did it,' you say later, looking at the gash on your leg, but you know really - your mechanisms for dealing with survival situations took over and enabled you to do what had to be done at the time. You can collapse later, when the emergency has passed. These normal stress mechanisms are good - very good - and we don't need to treat them.

Distress, however is another thing, this is when healthy stress becomes chronic, with the result that we have no energy, no will,only frustration at the ever-increasing pressure load. This is when essential oils are needed.

Here we look at the various types and degrees of stress and the oils which are best suited to deal with them. Of course different types can exacerbate each other, so that the environmental stress you suffer at work can cause mental stress, when taken home, can lead to emotional stress.

Environmental stress caused by, for example, bright lights over your desk; noise of machinery; the constant ringing of telephones; or too cramped office space.

Cedarwood - Cypress - Basil - Coriander - Chamomile Roman - Bergamot - Geranium

Chemical Stress caused by, for example, too many cups of coffee; too many lunchtime drinks; too much junk food; too many aspirins or antibiotics; inhaling substances at the factory or office; pollution on the way to work; smokers in the office.

Lavender - Geranium - Lemon - Patchouli - Clary-sage - Rosemary - Pettigraine - Grapefruit

Physical Stress caused by, for example pushing your body to the limits; running in the office 'fun run'; working out at the gym; driving long distances continually.

Rosemary - Lavender - Geranium - Chamomile Roman - Bergamot - Fennel - Marjoram - Thyme

Mental Stress caused by, for example, trying to achieve; doing exams; anguish over uncompleted jobs; unemployment; financial worries.

Geranium - Basil - Cardamon - Lavender - Bergamot - Patchouli - Sandalwood - Grapefruit

Emotional Stress caused by, for example, relationship problems, parental guilt; the inability to give or receive love grief.

Geranium - Bergamot - Rose - Sandalwood - Vetiver - Cardamon - Palma rosa

Reference: The Fragrant Pharmacy: Valerie Ann Worwood

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