Call it my secret weapon (weapons?) for unwinding and relaxing. You saw me mention essential oils quite a lot over the last couple of months, but why do I love them so much?
Well, try diffusing a lavender oil while also using a Calm app, and tell me who wouldn’t love them. There’s just something so soothing about meditating and diffusing your favorite oils. I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy and ever since I started using essential oils I find it so much easier to unwind at bedtime or de-stress after a long day.
For a very long time, I resisted things like meditation because… well, as anyone who has suffered from anxiety will understand, being alone with your thoughts can be painful. When I turned to meditation, I found it to be a little uncomfortable at first; now it’s a practice I can’t live without…just like I can’t live without my essential oils.
What are they? Essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled (most of the time by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant (they’re basically the true essence of the plant they were derived from). Despite being called “oils” they’re actually not greasy; they can act as natural anti-depressant, they’re anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory.
WHY I LOVE THEM
There are SO many uses for essential oils out there (literally hundreds of ways you can use them); they can be used in DIY Beauty recipes, some oils can help fight migraines, allergies, they can help with skin problems, you can even use them to make your own non-toxic cleaning supplies. I personally love aromatherapy so most of the time I use them in my diffuser, but I also like direct and steam inhalation.
I usually use essential oils to help relief stress and unwind at bedtime or when I meditate, but I also love diffusing them when I work, to improve focus or to help relief seasonal allergies (also at bedtime). One of the things that I love about essential oils, is that they help my brain build scent associations. I’m very sensitive to scents and I’m the type of person who builds very strong connections, or relationships even, with scents and smells. You know, when you smell a certain food or a perfume, or flower; you close your eyes and immediately think of the memory that scent is associated with? Yup, I’m very sensitive when it comes to those things, which is why I think I love aromatherapy so much. Because of the scent association, as soon as I smell Lavender oil, I know it’s time to unwind; when I smell peppermint, my focus heightens because that’s usually what I diffuse when I sit at my desk and work.
Lavender oil is one of the most popular and versatile oils (it’s also a great place to start if you want to try essential oils, since it’s a very safe oil). I love using it at bedtime; usually I either diffuse it, or use a cupping technique to inhale it (rub a drop of the oil in your palms and cup them around your nose and inhale). Tea tree oil is one that grew on me over the years (I used to hate the smell!) and it’s actually now one of my favorite oils and I love using it…. on my toe nails. I hate getting pedicures because I’m paranoid about things like infections and just can’t stand other people touch me, especially when there’s water involved (is that weird? nail salon pedicures feel like torture to me, tbh, even though I go to a super clean, fancy place). So, during summer when I don’t have 2 hours to give myself a pedicure and occasionally do go to the salon, I use Tea tree oil, all the time. Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and it has fungicidal and antibacterial properties; I usually use it in a foot soak, or mix a few drops with grapeseed oil and apply to my nails using a cotton swab. I also love diffusing peppermint oil when I work- it’s very refreshing and has that energy-boosting quality. Another favorite is eucalyptus– I usually use it for steam inhalation when I feel a cold coming- I just fill a big bowl with hot water, add a few drops of the oil, cover my head with a towel and inhale the steam.
FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER
Essential oils are highly concentrated and a little goes a VERY long way. Other than Tea tree oil and Lavender oil that I sometimes apply on my hands, I avoid applying them topically as I’m prone to skin allergies. When using them topically, they should always be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil. If you want to start using essential oils, especially when it comes to any DIY Beauty recipes, please do your research and always patch-test; they might be “natural” but they’re actually very potent and can cause skin irritation, photosensitivity and most of them are not safe for internal use. Another thing to remember: be careful where you get your oils (and information) from; there are a lot of multi-level marketing companies out there that promise their oils will cure all the pains and aches and every single disease that’s out there. Some people really do believe that and that’s all good, but you know, just use common sense.
I buy my oils from Amazon and the brands that I use are therapeutic grade oils from Sky Organics, Now Foods and Radha Beauty. I use them mainly for aromatherapy for stress and anxiety relief and they work well for me; I’m not really an essential oil snob or expert- just really love using them!