Painting and photo by Sharna Emrith, The Sputnik Photography
In the spring of 2013, couple Mike and Kelly planted 125 seeds. Little did they know, those seeds would bring much more than lavender.
In the years to come the plants would bring happiness, relaxation and adventure.
The first spring was a tough one for the new start up. The two faced a long journey that would teach them resilience.
Their land was not as easy to work with as they first thought when buying it. Due to unforeseen “low spots,” on their land they lost 25 plants in one season alone. They moved most plants to higher ground in an effort to save what they could.
As most Canadian farmers will tell you, winter brought some fair share of trouble. Although snow is great insulation, ice on the other hand was responsible for many plants dying.
Then came the vole problem. Mouse-like rodents infested their once beautiful purple oasis.
Mike and Kelly felt down but not defeated; they decided to get back on the horse by giving 2014 their best shot. To start they ordered 2,700 lavender plants.
Since then, the road to restoring their beautiful lavender oasis has been anything but smooth, it has brought about some important life lessons.
Their biggest lesson is patience. As they put it “if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Their story is one of great resilience, one that after this year students can all relate to. When faced with adversity it is unavoidable to encounter stress It is important that we recognize when we are overwhelmed and take time to address our mental health needs.
A study by the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research on postpartum women found aromatherapy, specifically the scents of lavender, reduces postpartum anxiety.
The study had 140 who were divided into two groups; one a test group and the other control group. The test group was administered three drops, via inhalation, of lavender every eight hours for four weeks. The test group reported lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress than the control group who received routine medical treatment.
A similar study by Toda M. and Morimoto K.show the effects of lavender and peppermint oil that the test group reported significantly less stress than the control group.
“Lavender is commonly used in aromatherapy and can be a great addition to your self-care plan,” said Laurier Brantford Wellness Centre educator Sarah Syrett.
“The fragrance from the oils of the lavender plant are believed to help promote calmness and wellness as well as to help reduce stress, anxiety, and possibly even mild pain,” she said.
Despite the unknowns in the aromatherapy field, many studies and mental health specialists recommend the use of lavender and other essential oils such as peppermint, because they may be associated with better moods, less anxiety and overall better a mental health state.
2020 has been a challenging year filled with uncertainty for many students, if not all of us. The use of lavender has been widely acclaimed for its relaxation effects. If you are feeling stressed out or in need of a mental health boost, perhaps lavender will do the trick for you.
It is important to note however, that lavender and other essential oils cannot replace other mental health interventions, it is simply a relaxation method. It works best as a destresser or as a preventative mental health tool.
Wilfrid Laurier’s Student Wellness Centres is a great tool available for students. They provide integrated services to support student’s mental health. Currently, there are remote workshops to learn strategies to enhance your well-being across the seven dimensions of wellness.
Another option is the drop in online counsellor-led groups, that aim to build coping skills. There are also Peer Support sessions to chat with a trained peer volunteer, or set up a phone or video appointment with one of their welcoming counsellors.
If you are a Brantford Residence student, you can access virtual drop-in counselling every Monday from 9am to 12pm and Friday from 1pm to 4pm. Call 519-756-8228 x5803 during drop-in hours to set up a same-day appointment (first come, first served).
“No problem is too big or too small to reach out for support,” said Syrett.
The centre is also pairing up with community partners during Fall Thrive Week the last two weeks in October. The project is aimed to bring more virtual programming to build a more positive mental health at Laurier.