T’was the week before the holidays, and all through the house, all the creatures were stirring, agitated, and tense (even the mouse). If this sounds similar to your festivity cycle, take comfort in the fact that for many people, the holidays are not all good cheer and glad tidings. There’s a fair amount of angst afoot as well, as this time of year can evoke feelings of despair. One survey by the American Psychological Association found that thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season. Participants listed the top stressors: lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.
While the holidays, with their dizzying array of demands, can easily lead to overwhelm, aromatherapy can help you take a much-needed breather. Aromatherapy uses essential oils, concentrated, potent blends of chemical compounds extracted from beneficial plants. high-quality, unadulterated essential oils, properly used, can calm nerves, uplift your spirits, and play a significant role in easing anxiety. Note that artificial, synthetic aromas, which are unfortunately all too common, don’t provide the same benefits.
Build mindful aromatherapy breaks into your holiday routines and rituals. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Breathe deep and follow your nose to restore inner calm.
4 must-have essential oils for your happy holiday toolkit
Make home your place to recharge and renew, whether your alone or with company. Tree oils, such as sandalwood, are often described as grounding, comforting and soothing. As a result, the strong, earthy smell might help dispel tension and create a calmer atmosphere. It’s no surprise, then, that sandalwood has been traditionally used during rituals and meditation for generations.
Try: Putting a few drops into an aromatherapy diffuser to disperse the scent evenly throughout your room.
While patchouli shares the same family as lavender, mint and sage, its signature earthy, musky scent sets it apart. Patchouli is renowned for dispelling fatigue and anxiety, both of which come into play when social demands become too much.
Try: Apply patchouli scented oil to your skin during a self-massage. Your body functions as the diffuser, using body heat to warm up the essential oil and release its scent into the air. The first step is mixing it with a carrier oil, such as grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil. Diluting the essential oil helps avoid an allergic reaction, especially with prolonged use. Citrus oils, in particular, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun if applied directly. When combining, use 20 drops of essential oil for every ounce of carrier.
Running, and driving, from pillar to post to stock up for holiday festivities? Citrus oils such as lemon can help invigorate you when your energy levels start to flag.
Try: Turn driving into a mindfulness moment by incorporating aromatherapy on the go. The simplest way to diffuse essential oils in the car without gadgets is to place a tissue with one or two drops of essential oil on the dashboard. The heat from the engine will help disperse the oil. Alternatively, clip a flat piece of cork containing a few drops of the oil to the air vent. You can stick the cork to the flat side of a clothes clip and then clip it on. An added bonus of any kind of citrus essential oil is they are champs at masking odors such as stale car smell.
Of all the essential oils, lavender wins major kudos as a champion relaxation promoter. If concerns or excitement has you tossing and turning in the sack, lavender may be able to waft its magic on your nervous system.
Try: Make a lavender spritz by combining a few drops of lavender essential oil with water and lightly spritzing your pillow and bedroom before bed. You can also try a specially designed aromatherapy pillow, complete with a scent cartridge that tucks into the pillow to disperse scent throughout the night. Gravity Blankets, a company that specializes in weighted blankets, recently introduced a memory foam aromatherapy pillow that comes with 12 lavender scent cartridges.
Bottom line: If the holidays have your nervous system in a tizzy, a few deep breaths of your favorite essential oil can do wonders for shifting your mood.