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How to look after ourselves

02 September 2019

Making Your Health A Priority

Women’s Heath Week

Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week 2-6 September reminds us that the ‘prevention is better than cure’ strategy can mitigate the risks of a serious illness diagnosis and, quite apart from that, has benefits for everyone who decides to invest time into their health and well-being.

Recently, we spoke with one of our long-term Ruby supporters about her holistic approach to health through aromatherapy.

Angela Vrettas owns an apothecary store and scent bar, Scent of Life, in Melbourne. After 15 years of managing sales teams and running corporate training programs in South East Asia, Angela embarked on a “wellness journey and discovered the healing power of plants”.

Her journey led her to become a qualified aromatherapist and perfumer (pure botanicals), and in 2006, she began her own business. She now integrates her coaching and training with her skills in blending essential oils for specific needs.

Personal wellbeing for business success

As a business owner, Angela finds the paperwork, record keeping and content writing that come with business administration and that also accompanies the creative process of creating new scents and products, frustrating, and that, she says, can be stressful.

“I am always learning, experimenting and creating new scents, which I love, but the process of documenting is not something I enjoy.

“I’m ‘mindful’ about my sensory space – what I listen to, watch, taste, smell, of course, as well as what I put on my skin and wear. Being aware of what is around you and how it affects you keeps you attuned to change, especially those changes that may lead to feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. I practice what I call ‘divine pauses’ to tune-in and shift my state when I feel my connection slipping.

“When it comes to the health of my business, I learned the hard way how important it is to look after my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my loved ones. They’re top of my list of things to do now,” says Angela.

Your wellbeing

Angela says many of her customers – who are mainly women - describe struggling with anxiety and stress.

“I usually find digging deeper, the anxiety stems from a lack of purpose or passion, lack of sleep, burnout or hormonal issues.

“Anxiety is the blanket that hides many sins, impacting performance and productivity.”

Her answer is to create a bespoke solution, which she says is simpler to implement than booking and having massage, running a bath or lighting a candle would be,” she says about her aromatherapy solutions.

And it’s not only women who benefit. Young men in their 20s and 30s are very open to custom blends. Men are less likely to have known or thought about using scent to relieve stress and anxiety, and for men, oils such as Vetiver, Sandalwood, Frankincense and Jasmin are a great tool linking scent, memory and emotion.

Memory, mood and scent

Aromatherapy is described as the use of pure, essential oils to positively impact the whole person.

There has been a great deal of research carried out on our sense of smell. It is, for example, the sense most directly linked to the limbic region of the brain or the primitive brain. The limbic region’s functions include controlling emotions, instinctive behaviour and responses, motivational drives, learning and memory. 

Researchers have found that smells trigger emotional responses and are closely tied to our memories and there is research being done on Alzheimer’s and loss of smell, which appears to be a marker in those who go on to develop the disease.

According to Angela, aromas can be associated with the storing and releasing of emotional trauma, and, they can be used to quickly and easily relieve stress, shift negative emotional states and support holistic wellbeing.

“Scent is an invisible mood enhancer. I read about a Japanese company which found that lavender and lemon helped employees feel calm and focused and increased their productivity by 54 percent,” Angela explains.

“According to Rachel S. Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University,” Angela continues, “people who work in the presence of pleasant-smelling air set higher goals and are more likely to employ efficient work strategies. They are more creative in problem-solving when exposed to a pleasant scent.”