Happy Friday! Some days it can feel pretty complicated (or honestly a drag!) to be committed to your personal growth and transformation.
Big emotions can come up from behind you and hit like a tidal wave while your energy for forward movement seems to drain out of your toes.
That is why I dedicate one step in the Flourish process, Step “I” or “Immersion” to resourcing yourself with external resources or DIY options for shifting your mood and resetting easily and elegantly on days when you simply feel “off.”
Aromatherapy is one of the specific nine stress-dissolving strategies I suggest in The Flourish Formula. Why? Smells communicate directly with the emotional or limbic center in the brain and with your body. They have been used therapeutically for years to improve mood and are a simple, effective way of caring for yourself. Read on for my ten favorite essential oils and how to get started enjoying them today!
1) Wild Orange. This oil boosts mood and eases anxiety. It is also described as the oil of “abundance” and “sunshine in a bottle.” This one can be too strong to directly apply to your skin (and makes you skin sun sensitive) so either dilute it, apply it to the bottom of your feet, or diffuse it, which is my favorite way to enjoy this oil.
2) Lavender. If you struggle to turn off the hamster wheel in your mind at the end of the day, lavender is a time-tested remedy. I rub it on the bottom of my feet every night and can actually feel the relaxation moving up my body.
3) Geranium. This one is a little less known. Geranium is nourishing to the heart, great for the skin, and also aids with inflammation in the joints. I like to mix this oil in with a carrier oil (like almond oil) and put it in a roller ball. Then I apply it to my heart area when I get out of the shower. The scent stays with me the rest of the day, like a perfume I put on for myself.
4) Peppermint. If you struggle with headaches, peppermint essential oil can be a real ally. I like to put a drop in my palms, rub them together and hold over my nose while I take a few deep breaths which opens my sinuses. Also my children enjoy a drop of peppermint in their reusable water bottles each morning. Peppermint is really versatile – a sniff can help with nausea and be a natural energy booster for an afternoon slump. I love to diffuse it with wild orange. Together they smell delicious!
TIP: Please note this oil can be too strong to put directly on your skin. It has an “icy hot” feeling which can be great on sore muscles but usually best to dilute it to your comfort level. If you ever get too much of an oil on your skin and it is stinging, don’t attempt to wash it off. The water simply drives the oil in deeper. Instead apply olive oil or coconut oil or another oil you have on hand to dilute the effect.
5) Frankincense. This one has a truly timeless feel and smell. Plus it is incredibly grounding. Used for centuries as an aid to meditation and prayer, frankincense is a real healing powerhouse. In addition to helping you feel more grounded, frankincense is great for your skin and any little cuts or scrapes. This is also a super pricey oil — a little goes a long way — and it helps to bring out the qualities of other oil so it can be fun to diffuse with wild orange for example. Or geranium. Plus I like to layer it — applying first lavender to my feet. Then a few drops of frankincense. Again experiment and enjoy creating your own aromatherapy DIY treatments.
TIP: Why the feet? We have large pores on the bottoms of our feet so the oil can be absorbed easily and its healing qualities easily distribute through the whole body. If you are out and about another good place to apply oils topically is the back of your neck. Again always be sure to dilute as needed with a carrier oil.
6) Lemon. I love the simplicity of this oil. It is very affordable (in fact the most affordable one) and is super helpful around the house, especially if you need to clear sticky or gummy residue off of something. (Like old labels off a glass bottle you want to reuse.) It also is lovely in a glass of water or iced tea. Make sure you use therapeutic grade oils which can be ingested, I use Doterra oils and share these as gifts in my coaching practice. Also you want to make sure with all of the citrus oils that you only put them in glass containers. They can start to break down the plastic!
7) Bergamot. Clearly I have a thing for citrus. Bergamot is in the lemon/orange family but has potent qualities for supporting emotional health. Specifically it reduces nervous tension, depression and feelings of stress and anxiety. Plus you can add a drop to your black tea and convert it into Earl Grey. Shazam!
8) Ylang Ylang. This is a strong floral scent again with potent benefits for emotional health. It has a calming and euphoric effect so is wonderful for helping with anxiety, tensions, and other nervous conditions as well as challenging emotions such as anger and frustration. My favorite way to use this one is to put in a roller ball with sweet almond oil (a great carrier oil for children) and offer it to my youngest as a “calm myself down potion” which she will apply to her own feet. It has been a sweet addition to our family care repertoire and she loves having something she can offer herself to calm down.
My final two favorites are Doterra specific blends:
9) Balance Blend — This includes Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy and Blue Chamomile. Balance is warm and woody and promotes a sense of well-being. Like a spa in a bottle! When my kids were younger this would be the one I would rub on my hands and take several good sniffs before heading into a shopping trip at the grocery store. It brings you back into your body and helps you reconnect to yourself and your surroundings.
10) On Guard Blend — This warm and spicy scent includes Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils. It is also a great boost to the immune system and cleansing blend. Every winter I fix a roller ball with about twelve drops of On Guard plus a carrier oil for my children to rub on their feet before putting on socks and shoes and heading to school to help them stay healthy. I also like to use it to clean the house (make sure to invest in glass spray bottles) or to diffuse, especially in the fall as it has a homey, cinnamon smell. You can also gargle with it if you feel you are coming down with a cold.
And those are my top ten! I hope it inspires you to enjoy aromatherapy. If you are someone who wants to read up on the science, studies are being conducted on essential oils around the world including in Europe, Australia, Japan, India, the United States, and Canada. Many of these studies describe the healing properties of various oils. Here is a link to a summary of studies on PubMed.
And as is true of all oils and all stress reduction strategies — I direct you first and foremost to your own body. We are each bio individualists, meaning what smells good to me may not smell good to you. Also at different times and in different stages what smells we crave (like certain foods) can change.
So make these recommendations your own and enjoy!
Now over to you. Do you have a favorite scent or essential oil? How do you like to enjoy it?
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual master's degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School and is the author of The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down and Accomplishing More and creator of the 8-Step Flourish Coaching Program. Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. In the summer of 2017 she followed a long time dream and moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory (they met in Nicaragua in the Peace Corps) and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities and beaches. They have made their home in Granada where they are being tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more. Interested to learn more? Each month Courtney offers a select number of complimentary Flourish Assessment Calls. You can schedule one here.
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