Women today have more on their plate than ever before. Juggling a spouse, children, a home, career (or diverse careers!), doing charity work, being a friend, and engaging in their hobbies – no wonder women are basically exhausted. Many are doing it all without any assistance. Professional women have additional emotional concerns as they navigate the workplace and the usual challenges found there.
Women know they need to take better care of themselves and are admittedly doing so in many ways. There are several paths of self-care: exercise, diet, meditation, spirituality, journaling, art, even spa days. There is a plethora of natural options available for anyone who desires to find relief. I am going to focus on aromatherapy – specifically, essential oils – those wonderful smelling oils in the amber bottles! This is a simple way to incorporate another layer of self-care into daily life without too much effort.
Essential oil is the product of steam distillation of plant materials (flowers, leaves, roots). These oils are volatile and very aromatic. Most importantly, because they are derived from plants, they do have medicinal/therapeutic value and must be thoughtfully handled. But do not be daunted, some simple tips and you will be fine.
The oils below are readily available due to their popularity. I have included the Latin name which you can refer to, just to be sure you have the correct species of plant from which the oil is derived.
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) – Help with depression, insomnia, headache and sore muscles. A very popular and truly calming oil.
Geranium (Pelargonium asperum/graveolens) – Eases anxiety, offers adrenal support, assists with exhaustion and depression. Calming, uplifting and balancing.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Alleviates mental fatigue. Stimulating!
Lemon (Citrus limon) – Eases sluggishness. Also stimulating.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – Banishes negative thoughts, depression, and alleviates headaches. Cooling. Extra note – the scent or even a drop on the tongue eases nausea!
Patchouli – (Pogostemon cablin) – Works on depression, anxiety and lethargy. Grounding and balancing – very earthy.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Helps with depression, anxiety, stress. Balancing.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – Alleviates anxiety. Soothing.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Promotes confidence, courage and success.
So…how do you use them?
One of the safest ways to use essential oils is by breathing their scent in. This can be achieved with a diffuser (electric or ceramic) which can spread the scent throughout a room or many rooms (peppermint is excellent in a diffuser!) A mobile option is putting a few drops on a clean cloth, cotton ball or even in some salt to take with you.
To use on the skin, PLEASE research your oil to be sure you will not have any negative reactions. The usual patch test of a small area on the inside of your forearm will suffice. Try to not use the oil directly from the bottle (“neat”) as it is so very potent. The best way is to use carrier oil. That is just another oil that will “carry” the scent and healing properties of the essential oil, but not in such a potent way. Excellent carrier oils available locally include olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil and grapeseed oil. Add a few drops of essential oil into some of the carrier oil to achieve the scent you want and you are set. Your nose is your best guide.
To get you started, an easily available, quality brand is NOW Foods which I see almost everywhere. There are hundreds of brands out there and I urge you to try as many as you can as some quality of scents will resonate better than others. I personally have about four lavenders and each one is a bit different – but all are high quality. Takes a bit of trial and error. If you ever end up with an oil you do not like or sadly, is poor in quality – do not throw it away. You may be able to use it in household cleaning products. A little online research and you will be duly informed.
Make sure to keep your essential oils in a cool, dry place in no direct path of sunlight. If you blend your oils, never do so with mental implements and always store in an amber or cobalt blue-bottle/jar – again, away from direct sunlight.
My hope for anyone who reads this, is that you will feel informed and ready to take the first of many natural and healthy steps toward self-care as you navigate through life!