So that meeting didn’t quite go as planned, traffic is backed up from home to the Pacific, you’re in the midst of juggling 1000 different projects and are almost assured they are not all going to get done, your email inbox is creeping towards 100 and you’re not sure what’s for dinner, and-wait- did you forget to put on deodorant today???
Take a step back. And breathe.
Let’s face it- life can be stressful sometimes and it’s easy to allow the burden our responsibilities shake us and weigh us down. However, we have some control over the way a situation affects us and can utilize internal or external tools to bring ourselves back to center. One of my particularly favorite ways to reduce stress and ground myself, along with yoga and deep meditative breathing, is the use of essential oils.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in plants and they are most commonly extracted through a distillation process with steam or water. Essential oils taut many benefits such as relief of common ailments and therapeutic properties. However, the use of essential oils is more than old age holistic healing- it’s also science backed. Olfactory stimulation (such as through essential oils) has been linked to significant effects on mood, cognition, and social behavior. The olfactory system is connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, brain areas that are important for emotions and memories, so our sense of smell can positively impact the perception of our situations and surroundings. This is why I turn to essential oils, rather than a cup of coffee to boost my mood and lift my energy.
Here are some of my favorite essential oils that I reach for when I am feeling a little stressed or burnt out:
1. Peppermint Oil.
Peppermint has to be one of my favorite oils. The aroma is strongly similar to that of a candycane- who doesn’t appreciate a little Christmas in July? Peppermint oil is an energizing scent that can improve focus, concentration, memory, and headaches. When I’m working on approaching deadlines, my diffuser burns this oil (sometimes with an additional few drops of eucalyptus oil) to keep me engaged and productive. I also tend to reach for this oil to help relieve mild headaches and stomach aches.
2. Lemon (and Orange!)
For those who love the smell of freshly cut citrus, lemon and orange essentials oils are a wonderful treat. Citrus based oils have been shown to cause slight increases levels of seratonin, which generate an overall more positive mood. For an energizing pick me up, I burn sweet orange essential oil with a few drops of peppermint oil to leave me feeling refreshed and renewed.
This oil is best known for its flowery and soft aroma. Lavender oil has been recognized for its calming properties. Lavender is an integral part of my nighttime routine. I put a few drops in my diffuser an hour before bed and wind down the night with tea, my favorite book, or a conversation with a good friend.
ProTip: Blend this with tea tree oil in a 50/50 mixture for a scent that is both invigorating and relaxing.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential Oil Diffuser
This is my preferred method of utilizing my essential oils. Oftentimes, my most stressful moments occur when I am working, so I do quite appreciate having the scents of the oils permeate the space I am in, leaving calm, focused and serene.
There are a variety of oil diffusers you can use, whether it be a traditional tea-light candle burner or an electric diffuser (a little bit more accident-friendly). Despite the option you choose, it does not have to be expensive at all. There are many great quality diffusers under $20 (look below for a few of my favorites)!
Pro Tip: It only takes a couple drops of the oil to fill the room, so utilize sparingly, darlings!
Pot and Water
For those of us who are a little more “holistic on a budget” or have some essential oils laying around and don’t want to wait for 2-day shipping, this method works just as well!
Boil about ⅓ of a cup of water until it begins to simmer slightly. Then, turn the heat down and throw a few drops of your essential oils in and relax as the smells of the oil lift into the air. The scent does fade after a while, but if you keeping your pot on a low simmer should help to prolong the vapor.
Where to Buy
I have quite a few inexpensive (because I am a strong believer in the fact that health and self care does not have to mean draining your wallet), yet high quality essential oil brands that I use daily. Because you only need 2-3 drops for each use, a little truly does go a long way! Some of my favorites include:
If you are looking to purchase an inexpensive diffuser, check these out (:
-BESTLOVE Aromatherapy/Essential Oil Diffuser
-URPOWER Aromatherapy/Essential Oil Diffuser
Do you utilize essential oils in your self care? What are your favorite oils/oil mixtures to use?