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Managing change

Nature has nudged us towards winter, the stunning autumnal leaves have started to drop from the trees and as I write this I have seen the first flakes of snow. Mornings and evenings seem to be ever drawing. The shift in season is apparent. Change is normal whether it is related to nature, the seasons or anything else in our life. It isn’t always easy but it is a normal part of our journey as human beings. Sometimes we can instigate it, but rarely do we have complete control.

Change can sometimes be instant, unwanted or shocking, for example the loss of a relationship, role, job  or a bereavement. Our bodies change too – adolescence, pregnancy, perimenopause/ menopause, weight loss or gain, illness and disability are just a few examples. Aging inevitably provides continual change until the final journey beyond death.

Yet change can also be positive and even exhilarating. Embarking on a new journey, starting a new job, moving home, or beginning a new relationship, (or ending an unhealthy one) can be liberating, helping us realise our inner strength, proving our resilience and providing new experiences. 

In my career as an Aromatherapist, I have been aware that whenever I have been struggling with change or transition my trusty essential oils are there to help. The most common essential oil for change and transition is Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens var. stritcta). Gabriel Mojay writes

“The sour, astringent and woody notes of the essence convey a feeling of cohesion and stability…Cypress oil’s basic subtle action, then, is to help us cope with and accept even difficult change”

(Mojay, 1997 P.67)

Imagine the cypress tree in your mind’s eye. Its tall, erect and solid. Fischer-rizzi tells us it is good for those with scattered thoughts, over-burdened nervous systems or uncontrollable crying. She says

“Like a tap on the shoulder, the essential oil suggests we “get a hold of ourselves”

(Fischer-rizzi, 1990 P.91)

Worwood recommends it when there is fear of letting go.

Another useful essential oil is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Fischer-rizzi (1990) says it is the perfect oil for major life changes. It can be tremendously helpful when you feel overly emotional and numerous aromatherapy authors indicate it for emotional equilibrium. Just one sniff of the aroma can be tremendously calming. Change and transition can often make us feel like we have been knocked off course, and it can make us feel emotionally vulnerable and unstable. In such instances, it is important to restore balance and one of the best essential oils in my kit is for this is Fragonia® (Agonis fragrans). I use it with clients were there is a need for balance, emotional trauma, grief, disharmony, conflict, transition. It is helpful for times when people feel ‘stuck’ and unable to move forwards. Warner notes it is an essential oil for transition. I also like to use Kunzea  (Kunzea ambigua) for ‘emotional shelter’ when there is stress and change afoot. It has a terribly calming element to it and allows us to see the bigger picture, outside of our personal experience. I found it especially useful in the beginning of our first lockdown in the UK.  If you want to know more about Fragonia® or Kunzea, there are detailed profiles for both essential oils in my book Working with unusual oils – an aromatic journey with lesser known essential oils. Vol 1.

Finally I have to mention Rose (Rosa damascena) and Neroli (Citrus aurantium). Both are feminine, nurturing feminine essential oils that will comfort, soothe and hold our hand through crisis and change. Rose is often one of the first essential oils people think of for grief. At this time of year, many aromatherapists see parents (especially women) struggling to let go as one of their children has started school or has left for university and this is their first term. Nurturing them and honouring how they have helped their children grow so that they feel able to transition to the next stage in life is so important. I often find teaming Rose with one or more of the following helpful; Yarrow, Elemi, Cedarwood, Kunzea, Fragonia®

So wherever you are in your life right now, I hope that when change and transition comes you feel supported and able to utilise aromatherapy in your journey.  


Complete Aromatherapy handbook by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi (1990) Sterling publishing co: New York

Aromatherapy for healing the spirit by Gabriel Mojay (1991) healing arts press

Sacred oils by Felicity Warner (1997) Hay House: LondonThe Fragrant mind by Valerie Worwood (1995) Bantham books: London

© Helen Nagle-Smith 28th November 2021

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