What's a Diffuser For?
That pestering feeling of stress and unease gnawing at the back of your head. You know which one I'm talking about. Turn on a diffuser and watch it all melt away - or so it goes. It can be a hard pill to swallow. How exactly does a device that blows mist into the air with plant extracted oils hold a hidden secret to a steady, unwavering mind?
Apparently a diffuser can help you achieve that state of calm while you still make your meals, deal with clients, crank out work reports or whatever stressful business your day entails. Seems almost impossible, but let's take a look into how these mist makers can be your VIP access pass to enlightenment.
1. An Underlying Calm
So you fill it up with water, a few drops of oil and tada your home is filled with a natural scent. Doesn’t seem like much. But the reason why it works so well is that it’s always running. Whether you’re slicing open an avocado or catching up on emails, a diffuser is always working for you. You don’t even think about it, just breathe (we assume you’re going to anyway) and your brain does the rest.
The result - an underlying sense of calm in everything you do (more on that in a bit). Even if you’re not the spiritual type, your brain knows what to do when it picks up the scents and puts them to work. But if you are, even better because a diffuser is one of the best meditation buddies you can ask for.
2. Nature in Hour Home
Much like in traditional meditation, your breath becomes your guide. The outdoorsy scents of essential oils will naturally make you breathe deeper (shallow breathing is a symptom of stress ["Breathe Deeply. Live Longer" on Live Bold And Bloom]). In turn, the aromas tell your brain that you’re currently bathing in nature; an excellent way to recharge the mind. Kind of like a walk through the woods but in your own home.
We've even got the science to back it. This article from UC Berkeley mentions that a study from Japan shows that participants who took a stroll through a forest experienced "lower heart rates, better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings". Pretty cool stuff and especially helpful in our techified homes of laptops and phones, where we’ve distanced ourselves from nature further than ever.
3. Brain Training
Stress is a natural byproduct of going through life and there’s no avoiding it. Worrying and anxiety stimulates production of cortisol in our bodies, the stress hormone. If you don't monitor this properly on a day to day basis it can lead to serious mental conditions down the road (seriously) and so you need a way to flush it out.
Of course you have your leisure on weekends or at the end of the day. But what about in between? Having a way to consistently regulate cortisol levels during your regular working day instead of having it spike up and down through your work-leisure cycle is almost a life hack into permanent calmness. Almost.
And that's where these bad boys come into play. According to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, stress levels (measured by blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol) were significantly lower in participants who were treated with essential oil aroma (i.e. diffuser mist) versus a placebo group who were given an imitation fragrance. Well isn't that something.
Good to note that this isn’t something you do once or twice and bam - good as new. Mind wellness is an ongoing process you dive into everyday that helps you hit that perfect balance of clarity and relaxation. Forgetting to consciously monitor your mind’s health daily is not the main cause of “I’m so stressed right now” it’s the ONLY cause of it (really, think about that).
4. Long Term Happiness
Naturally, this isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a practice in which significant effects are noticeable in the long run after consistent use (consistency is crucial, remember that). Take stock of your inner state from time to time. Do it now actually. Am I relaxed? Happy? Angry? Worried? After a while, you’ll notice some subtle changes in your attitude if you really pay close attention to how you're currently feeling.
Neuroplasticity states that "what flows through the mind sculpts the brain" as put by Ph.D psychologist Rick Hanson in this article. In other words, the more you experience any feeling, the more those areas of your brain are activated. Over long periods of time, the structure of your brain actually changes to strengthen the areas that support these feelings.
So, does that mean the thoughts and feelings that go through your head on a regular basis literally become engraved into the very fiber of your being? Yes. Yes it does.
Peeves that used to bother you to no end aren’t a big deal anymore; you feel calm and in control during unfortunate situations and a sense of “it’s ok” when something’s not going your way. Taking a step back and realizing how much these situations used to torment your soul will even humour you and who doesn’t like to laugh?
5. Looks Pretty Cool
OK, so this one's a little bit of a bonus but come on. How can you not love the angelic dance of visible vapour these things put out? They'll instantly become the new centerpiece of your home, don't be surprised when you catch guests getting lost in their mesmerizing flow.
So whether you’re a meditation junkie or just someone looking to get through your day, mindful living is THE way to bring clarity into your life. If the existential philosophy of mindfulness seems a little out of your pay grade at the moment, this was made for you.
A diffuser is one of the best ways to reap the positive mental benefits of meditation without shaving your head and moving into a Tibetan monastery (that's what monks do). Just turn it on, breathe and your brain does all the work for you. And they told you there weren’t any shortcuts to enlightenment.