It's that time of year when faculty, administrative staff, and students of all ages from grade school to PhD candidates come back from summer break. I work at an Ivy League university by day and have relished the quiet days over the summer when most of the students and faculty are not around. I've worked in higher education since 2005 so I am keenly aware of the academic cycle and the challenges and stresses it brings each year. No matter where you are in your academic studies or carrier, you will surely encounter varying levels of stress.
Stress is one of the most popular reasons people turn to aromatherapy -- that's how I started using essential oils in 2011. Aromatherapy and stress management systems can help people identify their sources of stress and responses so that they can begin to peel back the layers in order to understand the physical manifestations of stress. Everyone reacts and responds to stress differently and it can be triggered by anything, but one you get to know your stress responses then you can learn how to navigate them.
Incorporating aromatic products as a basis of support helps to "click the reset button" on stress triggers and responses. It may be helpful for some to mindmap their stress to visually map out stress triggers, responses, and physical manifestations. When you creating a visual map to help you connect the dots between the stressors in your life, you will peel back the layers and decode your triggers, allowing you to redesign your body and mind’s responses to stress. This is an interactive approach to visualizing all of the stressors in your life and how they relate to each other. This can serve as a visual reminder to help you identify and become more self-aware of the stress in your life.
The goal of incorporating aromatherapy along with mindmapping your stress will help you to redesign your overall reactions and responses by rewiring our brains through the incorporation of aromatic products into as a mechanism to stave off stress and to overwrite responses and physical manifestations.
Aromatherapy Inhalers are a great way to target acute stress responses. They are discrete and easy to use, remove the cap and gently inhale into each nostril when feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or to feel more grounded and present throughout the day. Aromatherapy Inhalers work best when used regularly. Visit our Aromatherapy Inhalers shop.
Stress can manifest in different ways trouble sleeping, nervousness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive issues, excessive thinking, comfort eating, and retail therapy. Using aromatherapy inhalers gives you a direct inhalation experience as opposed to passive diffusion through typical aromatherapy diffusers. We don't have to be held prisoner to stress anymore.
Aromatherapy, among other complementary alternative medicine practices are just that - complementary. These practices are not meant to replace traditional medical practices and treatments entirely. Body autonomy is crucial and we will all have different needs and course of treatment. I was diagnosed with a Circadian Rhythm Disorder - Delayed Sleep Phase Type a few months ago. While there are numerous essential oils used for sleep and relaxation, in my case, there is no combination of essential oils that can and will help me sleep. I've tried diffusing them, using rollers, and balms with no luck. Now this does not mean that essential oils do not work for sleep - they just don't work for me. My course of action was to work with my sleep doctor, sleep therapist, and sleep psychiatrist to incorporate prescription sleeping pills with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Phase Therapy. This is perfectly okay and I am now sleeping a full eight hours a night for probably the first time in over 20 years. This is a chronic disorder and one that I will always struggle with. Most likely, I will need to take prescription sleeping pills long term.
If you are committed to natural holistic living and practices, common sense and risk assessments are crucial because in some cases, you can end up doing more harm than good. I have to take prescription medication for my sleep disorder, ADD/ADHD, high blood pressure, and because of my history of depression. There are plenty of essential oils that I can use to complement those traditional treatments, but I cannot rely on them 100% and remain healthy and functional at the same time. Essential oils can be uplifting and psychoactive, but for those with chronic and severe depression, anxiety, panic disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders they cannot be used as a stand alone treatment. I can use all the essential oils in my house (and there are over 200 of them) and it is not going to treat suicidal depression. I will leave that to the medical professionals.
Now to address the elephant in the room, essential oils and herbal remedies are NOT a substitute for vaccines, they do not function in the same physiological way. Yes, many essential oils and herbs have antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, but they are not going to provide the same level of protection as vaccines or other traditional medical treatments. Essential oils are chemicals, yes they are derived from natural plant material, but it is their chemical properties that give them their therapeutic benefits.
Again this comes down to risk assessment, while you might feel that your family is doing just fine without vaccines because you have your essential oils and herbal remedies, you absolutely have to consider the risk you pose to others, especially those who are chronically ill or immunocompromised - like cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, children or adults who have had organ transplants who will be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives, anyone with immune disorders like HIV/AIDS, and of course infants who are too young to be vaccinated. When my nephew became critically ill at 6 weeks old, if he was exposed to measles or other preventable diseases it would have caused even more critical health issues or killed him. That is a viable risk and one that needs to be taken into consideration.
The point I am trying to make as an aromatherapist and herbalist is that they are not a 100% cure all meant to replace traditional medical practices. I would love for that to be true and to not have to take prescription medications or to see my doctors all the time, but that is not my reality and never will be. Use common sense and assess the risk, not only for yourself, but for your family, and for those you come into contact on a daily basis. Peoples lives may depend on it.
In my last blog post, I discussed Energetic Aromatherapy for the Mind, Body, and Spirit, but wanted to take a deeper dive into exploring using essential oils to support the chakra system. Chakra loosely translates to wheel, vortex, or fields that relate to the energy centers in our bodies. The front of the body represents yang and the back of the body represents yin. Yin and Yang stem from Chinese philosophy and represent the duality of integrating opposite forces and energies. Chakras can absorb energy and information (yin) and release energy and information (yang). There are seven chakras associated with supporting the energetic aspects of the body: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown. Chakra work can be down on its own or in tandem with yoga and meditation practices.
I created a series of chakra aromatherapy inhalers and perfumes to support our energy centers to help with blockages and to restore balance in our bodies. Aromatherapy inhalers can be used to evoke the emotional energies associated with each chakra and the perfumes, oils, and balms can be used to anoint each chakra center.
Exploring subtle energetic aromatherapy compliments the traditional therapeutic applications of essential oils. We are made of energy and sometimes those energies get thrown off balance and we have to work to restore them on an energetic level beyond traditional modalities of treatment.
I've spent a lot of time studying the physical and emotional applications of aromatherapy and in doing so have become more interested in its the subtle energetic applications. Enhancing the mind-body-spirit connection embraces a holistic approach to health and wellness. You can't heal the body if the mind is in turmoil. and the spiritual body suffers from the disconnection. I am writing this as I am achieving to maintain and sustain balance in my own body as I have been suffering with a Circadian Rhythm Disorder - Delayed Sleep Phase type for some time and have feel disconnected from my emotional body, my spiritual body, and my physical body. I feel less disconnected when I am working on creating products, especially developing fragrances.
When we talk about subtle energetics, we are referring to the esoteric applications of essential oils and aromatherapy practices to deepen our connections within ourselves and our external worlds. This goes beyond the typical emotional applications for stress, anxiety, and depression.
The energetic properties of plants have been used in sacred traditions and rituals dating back to the earliest civilizations around the world. Practitioners had a deep understanding and connection with the subtle energetic properties of plant material. All matter is energy, the human body is energy, plants are energy, as are the four elements and so on. Our energies connect us - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. In our interconnected hyper frenetic world, it is easy to feel disconnected, distracted, and energetically drained.
Aromatherapy and essential oils can be used to reconnect and heal the mind-body-spirit connection. It is more common to incorporate essential oils into our daily rituals: skin care, remedies, passive diffusion, massage, perfuming, etc. Understanding the therapeutic and restorative aspects of essential oils on a holistic level can create the sacred spaces and rituals in our daily lives to reconnect within ourselves.
Energetic aromatherapy can manifest in numerous ways and it comes down to individual preferences. Recently, I created a product line of aromatherapy inhalers to address some of these subtle energetic themes in our lives. The subtle practice can include: aromatherapy inhalers, passive diffusion, massage, perfume oils or balms, ritual baths, incense, or even incorporating the subtle energies into your daily skincare routine. Many of the energetic essential oils also benefit numerous other areas. Frankincense, Sandalwood Patchouli, Helichrysum, and Rose have amazing benefits for the skin, but they can also help you to feel grounded and centered or a sense of inner peace when facing difficult emotional situations stemming from past or present trauma.
The power of aroma can work in so many esoteric ways. I invite you to pick a couple oils that you feel drawn to and sit undisturbed and experience them. Write down anything that comes to mind. How does the aroma feel? What memories does it evoke? What sounds or music do you associate with it? What colors come to mind? Does it feel warm or cool? What images come to mind? I learned this exercise while studying perfuming and it really changed my perspective on how I work with complex blends of aromas and why I am using them in a particular way or for a particular purpose
I've broken down the energetic properties to focus on a few key areas: feeling grounded and centered, dealing with emotional trauma, finding inner peace and harmony, inspiring creativity, and healing the mind-body-spirit connection.
Grounding & Centering
Working with essential oil synergies that benefit grounding and centering our minds and bodies help to prepare us for mindfulness rituals, meditation, yoga, and for managing our daily stress. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and constantly pulled in different directions as we juggle work responsibilities, families, home life, social obligations, and mundane everyday tasks. We can use essential oils to bring us back to ourselves with our feet firmly planted on the ground.
There are numerous essential oils that can help you feel more balanced. These can be combined with other essential oils with different energetic benefits based on your personal needs. If you want to work on feeling grounded while letting go and healing from emotional trauma, you might look at a blend of Rose, Patchouli, Carrot Seed, and Helichrysum.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Angelica Root, Balsam Fir, Benzoin, Black Pepper, Blue Cypress, Blue Spruce, Buddha Wood, Carrot Seed, Cassia, Cistus, Davana, Elemi, Frankincense Frereana, Frankincense Serrata, German Chamomile, Ginger, Guaiacwood, Helichyrsum Splendidum, Himalayan Cedarwood, Lemon Tea Tree, Muhuhu, Myrrh, Nagarmotha, Palo Santo, Patchouli, Plai, Rhododendron, Rosalina, Rose Geranium, Sacred Frankincense, Sandalwood, Valerian, Vetiver, and White Verbena.
We all have some manifestation of emotional trauma in our lives from the past or present. This can stem from abusive situations, grief, heartbreak, or suffering a loss of any kind. We may chose to work with medical professionals and therapists, but much of the work comes from within as we move throughout our lives in attempts to let go, heal, and thrive. If you want to work through the heartbreak and loss at the end of a relationship, you could create a synergy that helps with emotional trauma, heartbreak, inner peace, and letting go. It could include: Neroli, Helichrysum, Ylang Ylang, and Angelica Seed.
Beneficial Essential Oils for Emotional Trauma: Cistus, Clementine, Elemi, Fragonia, Galbanum, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Helichrysum Italicum, Helichrysum Splendidum, Inula, Kunzea, Myrrh, Palo Santo, and Rosewood.
Beneficial Essential Oils for dealing with Grief, Loss, and Heartbreak: Cistus, Cypress, Helichrysum, Inula, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Monarda, Neroli, Palmarosa, Rose, and Sacred Frankincense.
Beneficial Essential Oils for Letting Go, Healing, and Release: Angelica Seed and Carrot Seed
Inner peace, Harmony, and Bliss
Achieving happiness, inner peace, and harmony may seem like a daunting task, but the power of aromatherapy can uplift us when we are feeling stressed out, sad, anxious, or any manifestation of emotional imbalances. There are numerous essential oils with uplifting energetic properties such as most citrus fruits, florals, and pines.The ones listed below specifically are harmonizing, euphoric, and foster feelings of inner peace.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Bergamot, Birch Tar, Champaca, Clary Sage, Cognac, Frangipani, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Mugwort, Opopanax, Patchouli, Wormwood, and Ylang Ylang.
Creativity, Motivation, Wisdom, and Insight
Essential oils can inspire creativity and motivation as well as wisdom and insight into the creative arts whether they are for personal expression or professional purposes. They can inspire us in the same way as music, poetry, and art. Aromas evoke feelings, memories, colors, sounds, music, images, temperature and other tangible things. Since aroma is intangible, we can use it to foster inspiration in our creative pursuits.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Allspice, Amyris, Angelica Seed, Balsam Fir, Bergamot Mint, Black Pepper, Black Spruce, Blood Orange, Blue Spruce, Caraway, Cistus, Clementine, Cognac, Coriander Davana,, Dill, Fennel, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Ginger, Juniper Berry, Spanish Sage, and Star Anise.
Spiritual Awakening, Meditation, and Mind-Body-Spirit Healing:
Aromatherapy can enhance our spiritual connection to our minds and bodies and the world we live in. We can use that connection to create a sacred space for meditation rituals and healing our mind-body-spirit connection.
Beneficial Essential Oils: Birch, Buddha Wood, Cacao, Champaca, Clary Sage, Cognac, Cumin, Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Guaiacwood, Holy Basil, Labdanum, Laurel, Liquidambar, Marjoram, Muhuhu, Myrrh, Nagarmotha, Osmanthus, Palo Santo, Rosewood, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Sandalwood, Sacred Frankincense, and Yuzu.
Subtle energetic work with aromatherapy can benefit the daily struggles and inner turmoil we all encounter. However, they will not "cure" any issue on their own. Energetic aromatherapy compliments standard approaches of psychotherapy, medication management (if applicable), and other forms of intervention. They can greatly enhance practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and other creative arts for healing purposes.
I'd recommend including subtle energy aromatherapy modalities to anyone wishing to add a new facet to their personal or professional practices.
I am a certified aromatherapist and I rarely diffuse essential oils anymore. I think the last time I did so was for some ambiance during my housewarming party in December. I got away from passive diffusion last year, but never really thought about why I was no longer diffusing all the time. Occasionally, I will make wax melts because they wax absorbs the aroma and it lasts much longer than any standard water diffuser.
There are so many ways to reap the benefits of aromatherapy and we all have our preferences. Diffusion is a good starting point when you are first getting comfortable with essential oils and the benefits of aromatherapy. After studying aromatherapy, I found better ways to incorporate aromatherapy into my daily self-care practices.
I attended a discussion/talk at a conference about self-care for people who spend their days in front of a computer screen, like me. I have incorporated many aspects of self-care into my daily schedule since I have a 9-5 desk job and studies show that sitting all day is highly detrimental to ones health. These are some of the things that I do on a regular basis to take care of myself during the day.
My daily essential oil routines sometimes change, but I thought that I would go over how I use them on a daily basis.
In the morning, I apply my moisturizer and then do my makeup and get ready for work.
Once I get to work, I use various combinations of essential oils in my diffuser.
I wear different scents mixed with a carrier oil in a roller bottle. My emotional state has been in flux most centered on grief and sadness and some feelings of anxiety. These particular oils provide an uplifting aroma and help get me through the work day.
I have a couple other rollers I keep in my purse for emergency use in case I feel some head tension coming on or need an energy and focus boost to get over and through the late afternoon wall.
I tend to take baths and showers in the evening because I find them relaxing. I use my own DIY foaming body wash, sugar scrubs, and relaxing bath oils. Occasionally, I will switch out my sugar scrub for clay masks or Himalayan Salt Scrubs. I also use my own homemade bath bombs, which reminds me that I need to make another batch soon.
My night time routine is pretty intense. After I take a bath or shower, I apply moisturizer and an under eye serum for dark circles on my face. I also use a belly firming cream on my abdomen and stretch mark cream on my hips, lower abdomen, and thighs.
I am currently on a sleep restriction regime to help with insomnia and find myself puttering around my office/studio doing things until midnight so I usually have my diffuser going with various combinations and have been digging a mixture of mint oils with citrus ones.
Once I am ready for sleep, I diffuse oils that help to promote relaxation and sleep. I use a Sleepy foot rub. Then its lights out for me
I wear a lot of hats most days and require a lot of self-care since I am also Bipolar/ADD, which can make simple things challenging. A year ago, I formed a local Philadelphia Feminist group. The group membership exploded after the election and we struggled with what direction to take this group in as we were also organizing in-person discussion group meetings. The organizers have been deliberating for a few months on the purpose and direction of the group. We decided to start formulating a self-care model for activists and for anyone who may be interested in learning more about self-care. So I will be crossposting the self-care content to this blog.
Last month, I outlined a scope for the self-care model. It is still in the planning process at this time.
The Self-Care model will provide content and will foster collaborations with local businesses and persons who provide services and resources for self-care for the activist community and beyond. All are welcome! Special emphasis will be placed on having dynamic options for all income levels. Thursdays will be dedicated to self-care on the Facebook group and website or blog.
Model #1: Essential Oils for Self-Care: This will be a mix of free and/or lost cost introductions to using essential oils in your life.
Owner, Restorative Aromatics and NAHA Certified Aromatherapist Level One. This blog focuses on aromatherapy education and other essential oil related topics.