Leisure & Lifestyle

Aromatherapy to Ease Culture Shock

Oct 16, 2019 · Guanxi

By Rosie Walker-Chen (CA MIFPA)

So, you’ve arrived in another country and it’s all so new, fresh and exciting.  Time passes and slowly it starts to not feel so great, why isn’t it like “home”?  Why is everyone around you irritating?  Say hello to your new friend Culture Shock!

Hi, C.S.!  What’s that you’re bringing with you today?  Fatigue?  I’ll have some of that – don’t really feel like getting up and going out.  You’ve also got some irritability issues?  I agree.  Everyone does seem a tad annoying at the moment!  Oh and you’ve also brought some depression with you.  Well, I’m thankful you popped by, but I’d really rather be on my own at the moment.  Maybe see you tomorrow?    Tomorrow you’re going to bring some anxiety?  I’ll look forward to that.  And you might bring some kind of aches and pains around?  Well, I do feel a bit off colour and I haven’t been sleeping well.  Maybe that would be ok.  What’s that?  I agree this place and everything about it doesn’t feel as great anymore. I don’t know what I’m doing or why I came here.  Look forward to seeing you tomorrow C.S. Bye. (1)

Maybe that’s not happened to you, or maybe it has.  So what can you do to try to stay friends with C.S?  C.S is going to come around sooner or later.  Yoga, exercise, meditation, art, and hanging out with friends are all great ways to ease the discomfort. 

Have you thought about trying aromatherapy?  Aromatherapy -using plant essences (essential oils) to nudge your body and mind back into balance or homeostasis.   Word of warning – they aren’t a be all and end all, they do not cure cancer or hold the answers to the universe.  But essential oils could help.   They work directly on the olfactory membrane in your nose and pass into your limbic system. This is where your emotions reside.  The information then gets passed onto your nervous system.

Feeling a bit down?  Remember the smell of the fresh oranges that your grandparents used to squeeze for your orange juice?  That smell reminds you of happy summers and feeling safe.  You could buy yourself a whole load of oranges and every time you smell them you are transported back to that place.   However, you can’t really fit them in your pocket though and they will eventually get battered and bruised and smell a bit off.  How about trying Orange (sweet) citrus sinensis essential oil?  Clinical studies have shown that certain aromas do help alleviate stress and anxiety. (2)

Maybe orange isn’t for you.  Everyone is unique, different smells take us all to individual places.  You need to find the right one for you, to take you to that place where you feel safe, brave, confident, and chilled out again.  Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is great for reducing anxiety and fear.  It has been shown to calm and control panic attacks. (3) Rose (Rosa x damascene) helps to soothe anger and can help with despair and anxiety. (4) Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica) is emotionally revitalizing and increases a positive and calm energy. (Think about taking a walk in a forest or the Japanese past time of forest bathing). Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides or Vetiveria ziznioides) will help ground, nourish and uplift you. (5) A blend of peppermint (Mentha x piperita), basil (Ocimum basilicium ct. linalool) and helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) essential oils was shown to help reduce perceived mental fatigue/moderate burnout levels. (6) There are so many oils that might help; you just need to find one, or a combination that will work for you. 

When you have found an aroma that you feel could work what do you do next?  Well, the first thing is you need to use it safely.  Essential oils are volatile chemicals extracted from various plant parts. 

  • Do not apply undiluted essential oils to any part of the body.
  • Please, do not ingest them.
  • Use bottles with child-resistant caps.
  • Use with caution when pregnant.
  • Do not expose children of five years or less to strong essential oil vapours. (7)


You could use a necklace or bracelet with a special attachment for adding essential oils. 





A small personal inhaler, (the essential oil is placed on a cotton wick inside) is another great way to be able to carry your aroma with you.  They can be quickly and efficiently used if you feel anxious or even before. 


If you need assistance finding the right aroma for you, seek out a certified aromatherapist.  They will be qualified and fully trained to choose a variety of essential oils and their safe method of application, which is tailored to each client’s needs.   You can find them on the IFPA (International Federation of Aromatherapists) www.ifparoma.org, NAHA www.naha.org, or AIA (aia.memberclicks.net) website.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and not meant to replace medical advice.  Please consult your doctor if you are in need of medical care or are making changes to your healthcare routine.



1.The 7 Symptoms of Culture Shock – Identifying Them and Getting Ahead of the Problem www.internationalrelationsedu.org. Accessed 2019-09-18

  1. Carmen Mannucci, Fabrizio Calapai, Luigi Cardia, et al., “Clinical Pharmacology ofCitrus aurantiumandCitrus sinensis for the Treatment of Anxiety,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 3624094, 18 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/3624094. Accessed 2019-09-19
  2. Hwang, J.H. (2006) The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. Taehan Kanhoe Hakhoe Chi36, 7, 1123-1134. Article in Korean. Available at http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/17211115
  3. Hongratanaworakit, T. (2009) Relaxing effects of rose on humans. Natural Products Communications4, 2, 291.
  4. Mojay, G. (1996) Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. P 124-125 London: Gaia Books.
  5. Effect of Inhaled Essential Oils on Mental Exhaustion and Moderate Burnout: A Small Pilot Study. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140115. Accessed 2019-09-19
  6. Essential Oil Safety.2nd Edition. Robert Tisserand, Rodney Young 2014 Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. General Safety Guideline p651
Buy us a coffee

Help support GuanXi Media

aromatherapy culture shock 香薰療法 文化衝擊



Contributed by one of our many talented writers, artists, photographers, and videographers