At this time of year with exam season looming, many students (and their parents!) are looking for ways to get through this stressful time as well as doing well in the exams themselves.
Whether you are preparing for HSC, VCE or University Exams, essential oils can be a fantastic tool for helping both with learning and also recall. Plus there are essential oils that can help with stress and sleep too.
When you are studying you need essential oils that will help you to absorb information in a way that will enable you to recall it later.
Essential oils that may help to stimulate the brain, keep you alert and focussed on the task in hand include -
Rosemary – The old saying "Rosemary for remembrance" has its roots in the long-known effects Rosemary can have on memory. Rosemary Essential Oil can help to learn and to retain information, making it perfect for the student. Rosemary is also stimulating, helping with alertness.
Grapefruit – Like Lemon, Grapefruit Essential Oil has a fresh uplifting aroma. Somewhat gentler in aroma than Lemon, try Grapefruit Essential Oil in the afternoon, when attention often starts to fade.
Or if you prefer a readymade blend, my favourite for anytime I need to concentrate, retain information or just get a clear head is my Clarity Essential Oil Blend.
You can use one or a combination of these oils in a vaporiser or diffuser in the area in which you are studying. Or simply put a drop or two on a tissue to inhale. Alternatively you can make up an Aroma Inhaler with your choice of these essential oils. I often recommend this alternative if you are studying at school or where there are other people around, as it minimises the chance that your oils will affect those around you. (Particularly important if anyone has allergies.)
As well as the action the oils have in the moment, there is another benefit. If you use the same oil (or combination of oils) each time you sit down to study, your brain will start to associate the aroma with study. It can help to form part of the habit of study, helping you get into the right frame of mind each time you sit down to learn. And this is a real bonus if motivation is lacking or you are feeling tired!
When it comes time to sit the exam, essential oils can help again.
They will help you to focus and remain alert. But also, having built an association with particular oils during your study time, and then having the same aroma around you at the exam, using them in the exam itself can trigger the right frame of mind and aid in remembering what you have learned.
When I was studying for my first aromatherapy qualification, I used to have a tissue with a few drops of the particular essential oil I was working on beside me. Having the aroma there while I was reading & learning about that oil, its history, properties, chemistry, uses etc, really helped me to recall this information each time I later smelled the oil.
When you are in the exam, though, remember that you are around other people and you don’t want to distract them with too strong an aroma. Likewise you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. For mental and emotional purposes, less is definitely more when it comes to essential oils! For this reason, I recommend using only a very little of your essential oil while you are in the exam. Either put a single drop (yes just one!) on a tissue and tuck it in a pocket or inside your shirt. Alternatively, if you are allowed to, take your Aroma Inhaler into the exam with you so you can take a quick sniff as needed. (Make sure to check beforehand if you are allowed to do this. In many instances you are very restricted in what you are allowed to take into the exam room. It’s best to find this out beforehand, rather than on the day – you don’t need more stress!) If you can’t take your Aroma Inhaler into the exam with you, you can still use it to take a few deep breaths before going in – the effects will last for a while.
Just as important as having the right state of mind to study (& recall) though, is the ability to relax, whether before or in between exams. You need to be able to wind down, take some time out and rest to get the best from yourself and what you have learned.
If stress is getting in the way of relaxing or if you have trouble sleeping, there are essential oils that can help here too. Two of my favourites are -
Lavender – when sleep eludes you, lavender helps to relax and relive stress. At night put a drop of lavender on a tissue and pop it into your pillowcase. You will be able to breathe the aroma in overnight.
Frankincense – one of the best things for me about Frankincense is that it helps to deepen and slow the breathing. Have you ever noticed how, when you get stressed your breathing gets faster and more shallow? Just using a relaxing oil isn’t always the answer – if you are studying, you want to remain alert but calm, and Frankincense can help with this. This is why it is also a great oil for meditation. Put a couple of drops of Frankincense on a tissue and breathe deeply to help to dissipate feelings of stress.
Have you used essential oils to get through your exams? Share your favourites in the comments below!