How do I help my emotional pain?
Updated: Nov 22
I have started and rewritten this blog several times over the past couple of days. It's because I had some bad news a few days ago, and as I processed the news, it got me thinking about how we actually manage the pain in our lives.
This week I've stubbed my little toe (was painful for a few days but now gone), cut a lump out of my pointing finger - quite nasty, I'll have a scar besides the inevitable stinging of the water & oil my hands have been constantly in & it was on my right hand to boot (I'm right-handed) - and, if that wasn't enough, I've had toothache too. Now, I don't know about you but this is the first time I've ever had actual toothache from having a new crown fitted. Jaw where they stab you with the needles, yes, but never the actual tooth. It started with the crown prep. Came away from my appointment and started to have intermittent toothache (back left tooth). I assumed it was because the temporary tooth covering may have exposed a bit of the nerve (or was a bit thin) and gritted the rest of my teeth and put up with it until I went back to have my actual crown fitted. A mixture of a hot wheat pillow and some neat peppermint essential oil carried me through quite well. My dentist even said there was nothing really he would have done until my new crown had arrived in any case when I mentioned it. For those of you who read my blogs regularly, you'll know that I recently had my gall bladder out. Again quite a lot of pain and I'm still having some trouble with my right hip from that car accident 18 months ago.
What's really interesting though is that I was prepared to put up with the pain of my tooth, probably because I knew it was only temporary (it might not be - the jury is still out - my tooth is still extremely sensitive and if it hasn't settled in another week or so, I'll be ringing my dentist again). Even more interesting though is that I am actually volunteering to have even more pain on Sunday when I go for my second COVID innoculation. So I guess if enduring pain leads to a perceived improvement, we're more likely to put up with it and manage the symptoms for a short while.
But what happens if the pain is more deep-seated (emotional) or becomes a chronic condition? How do you deal with that? For sure, one size won't fit all in these instances. Grief counselling takes a very different form to a massage with a strong pain blend for a chronic back pain issue. Chronic physical pain is in some ways far easier to deal with. Combining massage with essential oils will more often than not provide relief to what could otherwise be a real downward spiral into the chronic pain syndrome pictured below. Emotional pain, however, is much harder to deal with.
Either way, if you're struggling it's really important to seek out a strong support network and find the right type of help.
Unfortunately, there's no mental painkiller and short term comforts like alcohol and food (or even other addictive substances) tend to impair your functioning elsewhere, and will cause you more stress down the line, so these are best avoided if possible, tempting though they may be short-term.
We know that pain is there to protect us. Without it we'd burn our hands or let an open wound get infected because we didn't know about it. But did you know that emotional pain is also there to protect us? Both emotional and physical pain come from the same part of the brain, so your heart doesn't really physically "break". But when you're in pain, your body is telling you something isn't quite right and you need to listen to it. If it's physical pain, and you go to a doctor, that doctor will usually give you something for the symptoms. If it's emotional, you may get referred for counselling. But it's important to understand that going to a doctor isn't your only option.
There are a few things you can do for emotional pain that don't rely on medication.
Face your pain and explore it. What is it trying to tell you?
Learn to cope with your emotions. Practising mindfulness and relaxation can help enormously here.
Seek help. There are a number of essential oils which can successfully support you emotionally. They can't do the work for you in exploring your pain, but they can assist in the process.
If you do decide to choose a complementary pathway to help with your pain, a clinical aromatherapist will , for example investigate your issue exactly like a GP on the initial visit. For physical or emotional pain, the therapist will then plan out a series of treatments to balance out the body and support its healing. Just without the need for medication; by using essential oils instead.
Did you know for example, that not only do the oils have specific chemical properties that help with physical pain, essential oils also have emotional properties attached to them? (And yes, it's okay to just quickly scan the next bit if you're not that interested).
These are a few that sit on my shelf:
Basil- The Oil of Renewal
Bergamot- The Oil of Self-Acceptance (pictured here)
Black Pepper- The Oil of Unmasking
Cedarwood- The Oil of Community
Cinnamon- The Oil of Sexual Harmony
Clary Sage- The Oil of Clarity and Vision
Clove- The Oil of Boundaries
Coriander- The Oil of Loyalty
Cypress- The Oil of Motion and Flow
Eucalyptus- The Oil of Wellness
Fennel- The Oil of Responsibility
Frankincense- The Oil of Truth
Geranium- The Oil of Love and Trust
Ginger- The Oil of Empowerment
Grapefruit- The Oil of Honoring the Body
Helichrysum- The Oil for Pain (pictured here)
Juniper Berry- The Oil of Night
Lavender- The Oil of Communication
Lemon- The Oil of Focus
Lemongrass- The Oil of Cleansing
Lime- The Oil of Zest for Life
Marjoram- The Oil of Connection
Melissa- The Oil of Light
Myrrh- The Oil of Mother Earth
Oregano- The Oil of Humility and Non-Attachment
Patchouli- The Oil of Physicality
Peppermint- The Oil of a Buoyant Heart
Roman Chamomile- The Oil of Spiritual Purpose
Rose- The Oil of Divine Love
Rosemary- The Oil of Knowledge and Transition
Sandalwood- The Oil of Sacred Devotion
Tangerine- The Oil of Cheer and Creativity
Thyme- The Oil of Releasing and Forgiving
Vetiver- The Oil of Centering and Descent
Wild Orange- The Oil of Abundance
Ylang Ylang- The Oil of the Inner Child
(The science bit now of how it all works)
The limbic system in the body is often referred to as the “emotional brain”. This portion of the brain handles emotional response, hormone function, behaviour, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell. Within this system, you can find areas that control short- and long-term memories, emotions such as anger, fear, sadness & aggression, reproduction, sleep patterns, all of which relay sensory information (see pic above if you love medical diagrams).
In addition to being closely tied to the sense of smell, you can see from this why our emotions can affect so many other things in our lives. The portion of your brain that governs emotions also plays a part in memory, sexual desire, reproduction, sleep, and overall self-regulation. Using essential oils to support emotional and physical pain therefore makes perfect sense. If you inhale them, they stimulate the limbic system which governs so much of our responses. And if you apply them to the body, they do much the same thing, except this time they are absorbed through the skin. Clever little buggers aren't they?
One common misconception though about emotional release is that the release itself will cause emotional pain. Many people assume it is necessary to relive a traumatic situation in order to move past it. While sometimes it is beneficial to revisit some things from our past, this is not always the case. Worth exploring that, don't you think? And maybe in another blog I will.
What I do know though is that I think that's enough information for one blog. So, I'm going to go look for something to eat & hopefully my tooth will behave. If not, well I always have the heated wheat pillow & my peppermint essential oil... Wish me luck!
Stay safe everyone