A Calming Scent

I was substituting for a 1st-grade teacher’s aide when I first saw something that reminded me of a lamp shooting out smoke before a genie popped out. I asked the teacher what it was and she told me it was a diffuser. She explained that it contained water and a few drops of peppermint oil. That explained why I had a craving for a peppermint candy. She went on to tell me about aromatherapy.  Her claim was it helped calm the children and she had even noticed a drop in absences since she started this therapy.

Could a scent from a bottle calm down 1st graders? I told my Mom about this and she said she wished she had known that back when I and my brothers were growing up. My Mom’s humor fails me sometimes. The teacher’s endorsement of aromatherapy did arouse my curiosity but it would be a year or so later, a diagnosis of autism, and a Best Buy gift card before I would go beyond mere curiosity.

Since electronic gadgets are my obsessive interest, an electronics store gift card was exciting as a Christmas present in July. As all gift cards have, it had a price limit on it. I had to shop within the gift card range which is what brought me to the diffuser and oil aisle. I debated about it and left without purchasing one preferring to sleep on it. I did some comparison shopping on-line and more sleeping on it. Buying spontaneous, even with a gift card, goes against my “tend to overthink” autistic trait. Eventually, I selected the cheapest of the dispensers and bought the oils at the Wal-Mart.

After testing a few oils, I found lavender to be my favorite scent. It claims to help calm stress and anxiety and to help promote sleep. “Sleep” is the operative word for me. I was impressed with it the first time I used it and still do. I turn my diffuser on with a few drops of lavender before I fall into bed. It does carry the warning of just a few drops to do the trick. Too much can undo the trick and turn lavender into a stimulant instead.

I did my research on aromatherapy.  I learned it was based on the principle that essential oils from certain plants or flowers can affect our moods, and consequently how we think or feel at any given time.  The oils are each unique.  While my favorite, Lavender, is a calmer, peppermint is a mood lifter.  Well, I recall the first-grade kids that day appeared to be in a good mood and so did the teacher.

I can’t say how much the aromatherapy helps me. It may be just having my “genie-like” oil lamp is of comfort just as having my favorite pillow to hold, my eye mask to protect my light sensitive eyes, and playing white noise to protect my sensitive ears. It’s kind of like having comfort food at bedtime.



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