6 Ways Candles Help Your Mental Health
There are no two ways about it. Candles have significant therapeutic benefits. But surely something as simple as a candle can’t heal mental health issues.
Or can it?
It turns out candles aren’t just a pretty face. They are rooted in the ancient practice of ritual and aromatherapy (using scents to heal the mind, body and soul). There are scientific benefits in using candles to treat mental illness, from anxiety and stress to depression and even PTSD.
So it’s time to take those candles off the shelf and put them to good use.
When you’re in a highly stressful situation, the body goes into the ‘fight or flight’ response, otherwise known as the sympathetic nervous system. Your heart starts to beat fast, your breathing becomes shallow, and everything feels overwhelming, also known as a panic attack.
When you light a candle with calming scents, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the ‘rest and digest’ part of your body. This response reserves the body’s energy by slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.
Stimulating this part of your body can be particularly useful if you suffer from chronic anxiety or PTSD when your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is overly active.
Scents such as lavender, lemon and eucalyptus arouse the parasympathetic nervous system, soothing the body and letting it know that you’re safe and you can relax. You can go from a heightened state of anxiety to a place of serenity.
We suggest our Lemon Lavender Soy Wax Candle, which contains all the essential oils you need to relieve an overstimulated body and active mind, common with anxiety or PTSD.
As much as a scent can chill out a frantic brain, it can also lend a helping hand to an unhappy one.
Basil, lemongrass and citrus scents, such as lime and mandarin, have calming and uplifting effects. They release hormones connected to your moods, such as serotonin (the happy hormone) and dopamine (the pleasure hormone).
That means when you choose the right scents, you can soothe your nervous system whilst bringing a bit of positivity and pleasure into your life.
If you’ve got the Monday blues or struggle with depression, try our Lime Basil & Mandarin Soy Wax Candle.
Who here has trouble sleeping? It’s perfectly normal to struggle with sleep occasionally, but when you feel anxious or low, it can feel difficult, if not impossible, to get a good night’s rest. The only problem is that poor or lack of sleep increases anxiety, depression, and stress, so it quickly becomes a vicious cycle.
However, the modern invention of electricity means it’s not such a big deal. You can stay up as late as you want, with light 24/7. The only problem is, that’s what’s causing the lack of sleep in the first place.
Blue light emitting from electronic devices is especially sleep-preventing because it suppresses melatonin (the sleep hormone), which sends sleepy signals to the brain.
Try switching out TV with reading a book by candlelight at least once a week. As a bonus, watching the flickering flame helps focus and settle the mind, producing a serene, meditative state. Perfect before bedtime!
There’s nothing more relaxing than a cup of chamomile tea, calm music and a good candle. But why is it so effective?
80% of our senses are through sight, so when our brain sees the soft, flickering flame of a candle, it immediately starts to chill out. Turning off harsh overhead lights and switching to candles activates the brain to recognise that it’s time to slow down for the day.
If you’re feeling fraught, use gentle lighting to induce a calm atmosphere and bring relaxing energy into the room.
Do you ever feel scattered and not know which way is up from down?
Take a moment to pick up your favourite candle, sit down and light it. The scent will help you breathe more deeply, relaxing the body and soothing the mind to think clearly. The action of lighting a candle forces the body and brain to slow down and focus on one instead of one-million things.
The use of candles is common in rituals, and for a good reason, they signify the start and end of something. But if the word ritual reminds you of sacrificing a goat, then all you have to remember is that a ritual is simply a routine, and we all have those.
Implementing the use of a candle into your daily routine tells your brain that you are about to perform an activity and that activity is probably both calming and intentional. The simple action reduces an anxious mind because it associates the candle with something positive.
Lighting a candle alongside a daily habit also eliminates the overwhelming feeling of choosing what you are doing next. The action is particularly good for depression when you feel aimless or anxiety when you become paralysed by indecision.
Think of one habit you do almost every single day. It could be something as simple as making a cup of tea or even going to the toilet! Keep a candle nearby and light it before you start, and blow it out when you finish. If sleep is an issue, burn it in the evening to signal to the brain you’re winding down and blow it out to signify bedtime.
Procrastination can cause anxiety, so try lighting a candle whenever you get down to business. Particular scents can improve brain function whilst creating a more inviting space for you to work.
Scents that improve concentration or innovation include clary sage, peppermint and jasmine.
However, if you want more bang for your buck, a 2-in-1 scent that boosts both focus and creativity is cinnamon. So make sure to check out our Apple & Cinnamon Soy Wax Candle for the benefits you need to finish any ongoing projects.
If you need a friend but don’t have anyone to call, try lighting a candle. It seems silly, but lighting a candle stimulates the limbic system, regulating your emotions.
You can lift your spirits using certain scents or use them to trigger fond and happy memories. Different scents can trigger other emotions, such as happiness, calmness, playfulness and sexy times. If you don’t have a smell that connects you to a happy memory, create a practice to make your own.
Find somewhere in your home, maybe a corner by the radiator, that you can retreat to when life gets overwhelming. Light a candle of your choice, then sit and breathe for a few minutes. You can even practice pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing, which balances out the left and right sides of the brain, soothing the nervous system. Over time, your body will associate the ritual of lighting a candle with that scent as a safe, calming and positive environment.
Try our Velvet Rose and Oud Soy Wax Candle, containing natural therapeutic fragrances that relax the nervous system to help soothe grief, stress and depression.
So, do candles help your mental health?
Absolutely! The ritual of lighting a candle, its flickering flame and various scents calm and balance the nervous system, which helps PTSD, anxiety, depression and stress. Although they can’t resolve any deep-rooted issues that may be causing mental illness, they can support you while you get the help you need.
Candles are an untapped gold mine for managing mental health. So choose your favourite scent and learn how to care for yourself with candles.