Moving Toward Morning

We just finished the first week of September and I feel all the things: a little melancholy that summer is waning, excitement for the start of a new season, and the sense that I am myself as this is my birthday month. Transitions–endings and beginnings blurring together–are always difficult, even when you are looking forward to the new.

I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, we are experiencing pleasant weather in the high 60s to mid- 70s (Fahrenheit). Although it still is warm, there is a tinge of a chill, and the nights fall a little earlier with each passing day. My daughter began eleventh grade this week, my stepson twelfth grade, and I am in my second month of Ayurveda school.

How I start my day determines how successful the rest of it will be, so I wanted to talk about morning routines. What does yours look like? Mine varies quite a lot. On Sunday, my wake-up time depends on whether my husband and I have a music gig or not, but most of the time I can sleep in.

Monday through Wednesday during the school year, I get up to drive my daughter to school. My choice is to either get up at 7 and launch directly into making breakfast/coffee/tea, and then drive her to school, or I can get up early at 5:30ish and meditate, journal, practice visualization and affirmations, exercise or do yoga, shower, and then start making breakfast, etc. The latter is my ideal.

Even the rest of the week–Thursday through Saturday–if I get up early and get all of those important soul-nourishing pieces of the morning done before the rest of the house wakes up, I feel amazing! I have a positive outlook, feel confident, and am ready to face the day. This way I can begin work, meet the needs of my family ,etc., without resentment or trying to figure out how to squeeze in a workout.

It might seem crazy to contemplate getting up an hour or two before everyone else. That obviously means going to bed earlier. As a certified lifelong night owl, it is challenging for me to stick to this. And I am not religious about it. If I don’t have a good night’s sleep, am not feeling well, or if I go to bed late because of work or a special occasion, I don’t get up super early and I don’t beat myself up about it. But as soon as I can realistically get back into my morning routine, I will.

So my hat is off to you if you’re already an early bird and rise before the sun to do what you need to in order to make your day a success. But if you’re like me and are still moving toward your ideal morning, that’s great too! The best thing is to ask yourself why would you want to do this and then write down a good long list of reasons why. The more reasons you have, the more likely you will continue working toward your goal. If you can display your list of reasons somewhere visible to motivate you, all the better!

Design the morning that works for you, at this stage in your life. And like I said in my Facebook and Instagram Lives on this topic, please, if you’re a young mom with a baby or toddler, or you’ve got an elderly parent or sick family member you are caring for, or anything else that is super demanding, this is not the time to begin a new routine, to get up early, etc. Be extra gentle and kind to yourself and take time for yourself when you can.

This particular advice comes from this episode of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happier Podcast: In order to get your family on board when you are starting new habits, be consistent! They will get used to it sooner if you stick to your routine.

And since I am always looking for ways to share what I learn about aromatherapy with you, here are two diffuser blends that are great for mornings. They are motivating, positive, promote confidence, perseverance, and a bright outlook.

Morning Blend 1:

1 drop Basil

2 drops Cedarwood

3 drops Lemon

Morning Blend 2:

1 drop Tulsi

2 drops Cedarwood

3 drops Orange

Alright, I’d love to hear about your morning routines: what works, what doesn’t, and what new habits you’re incorporating into your life this September.

What I’m Doing About Anxiety

For the past few weeks, I’ve had higher-than-usual anxiety levels. Lots of activity and a full house are definitely part of it, plus the changing weather, and my ongoing post-divorce inner work/healing. Yes, I know, we’ve all got stuff to deal with and we have to do the best we can every day. So, here is a list of some of the tools that are helping me get my anxiety under control each day.

Calming Aromatherapy Blend:

(4 drops Cypress, 3 drops Lavender, 5 drops Sweet Orange essential oil.) When my anxiety seems to be peaking, this blend helps me almost instantly. I put it in my diffuser, sit down to work at my desk, and within 10-15 minutes I feel that tightness in my chest ease, the inexplicable sadness and worry lifts, and I come back to myself.

Calmsense:

I’ve said it before and will say it again: This blend of B vitamins and herbs really works to calm me down, boost my mood, and relieve stress. Whether for everyday anxiety issues or for situational anxiety, (before a performance, for example), it works for me within twenty minutes. You should have this in your natural first aid kit.

Walking outside for at least twenty minutes each day.

Just get out there! Your mood will lift, your ability to focus improve, your stress levels will drop, and your overall sense of well-being will rise. Feel the sun or rain or wind on your face, connect with your surroundings, and remind yourself that you are part of the planet, and the planet is part of you.

Meditation/Yoga/Prayer/Pranayama:

Pick one or do all of them, but whether you are praying, practicing yoga, meditating or doing breathing exercises like Pranayama, you will benefit with lowered stress levels and a calmer, more positive outlook. I enjoy meditating and practicing yoga with the YogaGlo app on my phone.

Watching something that makes you laugh.

I can get so serious and stuck in my head, trying to solve problems and get work done, that I forget to take a break and just laugh. Whether it’s I Love Lucy episodes, a movie like Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah or a TV show like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, a good laugh session will do wonders for your mood and you’ll stress less.

Reading books on contemplative prayer and mindfulness:

Peace of Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

I would love to hear about what tools you use to help yourself when you are feeling anxious.

(Not Sad) Cypress (Wellness Wednesday)

When I turned seven, a couple of family friends gave me Nancy Drew mysteries for my birthday. I gobbled them up and was soon devouring the whole collection from our little public library in Brooklyn. By the time I was twelve, I was devouring Agatha Christie mysteries. Since the essential oil I’m sharing about today is Cypress, that made me think of the Christie mystery, Sad Cypress.

Actually, Cypress isn’t sad at all–it has quite the opposite effect. It is gentle and uplifting to the emotions. Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! It’s time for another edition of “What Should I Do With My Oils?”.

Latin name: Cupressus sempervirens L.; Family: Cupressaceae; Part of plant used: Leaves, twigs, cones.

Therapeutic Actions: Antispasmodic, Antiseptic, Decongestant, Restorative to the Nervous System.

How to use: Helpful for varicose veins, edema, preventative for sore throats, relieve lymph congestion, respiratory infections in the early phase, influenza, asthma, sore throats, dry spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, rosacea, wound healing, calming, helpful for transitions or times of grief, soothes anxiety.

Soothing Cypress Diffuser Blend for Anxiety, Immune Support, Allergy Relief

6 drops Cypress

3 drops Lemon

3 drops Black Spruce

Allergy Diffuser Blend

5 drops Cypress

3 drops Naiouli

4 drops Scots Pines

Nightime Leg Blend for Varicose Veins, Swollen Legs and Feet

2 oz. fragrance free lotion

16 drops Cypress

12 drops Lavender

8 drops Red Mandarin

Versatile Sweet Orange (Wellness Wednesday)

Each Tuesday I go Live on Facebook at 12pm ET and Instagram at 12:15pm ET with a series called “What Should I Do With My Oils”. I focus on one essential oil each week, sharing benefits, ways to use it, blends and recipes, as well as any safety concerns. And on Wednesday I share the info here on the blog. This week I’m focusing on Sweet Orange. S

Latin name: Citrus sinensis; Family: Rutaceae; Part of plant used: Peel/zest of fruit. Aroma: fresh, fruity, citrusy.

Safety info: Store Sweet Orange in a cold, dark place. The fridge is a good place! Shelf life is 1-3 years. If the oil is stored improperly (been exposed to heat and sunlight), or is old, it can oxidize and cause dermal irritation. 

Like Lemon, check to see if your supplier distills or cold-presses their Orange oil. Cold-pressed Orange is not phototoxic, but distilled is. This just means you shouldn’t slather on a product with a high dilution of Orange in it and then go out in the sun. If you do use a product with lots of Orange, Lemon, or other Citrus oils and are unsure about how it was processed, just avoid exposing your skin to the sun for 12 hours. Example: no tanning beds or lying poolside.

OK on to the good stuff:

Sweet Orange is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, sedative, nervine, digestion aid, diuretic.

It’s a great oil for digestion: can help to relieve indigestion, nervous or upset stomach, gas and bloating

It is a friend to the nervous system/emotions: calms anxiety, agitation/irritability and restlessness, can relieve insomnia and depression.

Three Aromatherapy Blends with Sweet Orange:

Anytime Soothing Diffuser Blend

5 drops Sweet Orange

4 drops Lavender

3 drops White or Black Spruce

Study Buddy (Mental Clarity) Inhaler

4 drops Black Spruce

6 drops Sweet Orange

2 drop Peppermint

Happy Belly Lotion

(In 2 oz bottle with fragrance free lotion or use a carrier oil like Jojoba or Sweet Almond Oil)

10 drops Sweet Orange

5 drops Cardamom

3 drops Bergamot

In my Live videos, I recommended the free Introduction to Aromatherapy course from New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. You can find it at www.aromaticstudies.com.

OK, that’s all for now! Happy Wellness Wednesday and let me know if you try the blends.

Needing Niaouli (Wellness Wednesday)

Every Tuesday, I go Live on Facebook and Instagram with my series “What Should I Do With My Oils?” and talk about one essential oil, its uses and benefits, and share a few recipes/blends as well. This week I shared about Niaouli, an EO that is super beneficial this time of year.

Niaouli: Latin binomial: Melaleuca quinquenervia ct 1,8 cineole; Family: Myrtaceae; Parts used: Leaves; Aroma: Camphoraceous, fruity, warm, earthy, 

Safety concerns: Don’t put near the nose or face of infants and children under 5 years old; can cause breathing problems in infants and young children.

Therapeutic Applications: weak immune system, allergies, bronchitis, respiratory infections, chest infections, fungal infections, mental fatigue.

Three blends/recipes:

Sore throat recipe: 1 drop Frankincense, 1 drop Niaouli, 1/2 teaspoon Jojoba oil. Rub on front of throat and back of neck.

Breathe Clear Blend: 6 drops Niaouli, 3 drops Cypress, 3 drops Spike Lavender. Diffuse for 1-2 hours at a time.

Allergy Lotion Blend: 15 drops Niaouli, 9 drops Lavender, 5 drops Eucalyptus Radiata, 8 drops Lemon, 8 drops Scots Pine in a 1 oz bottle of lotion. Apply lotion to neck, chest, and upper back.

I also wanted to recommend an aromatherapy book that I refer to often that you might want to consider for your home library. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit contains plenty of history and lore connected with plants, as well as information on essential oils to use for emotional and mental well-being.

Two Blends for Back Pain Relief (Wellness Wednesday)

I just had the most painful back pain episode of my life! I was at the gym this past Sunday morning, walking on the treadmill, when I felt a tightness and pain in my upper left back/shoulder area. Attempting to ease it out, I stretched a bit and thought I’d just keep going. About ten minutes later a pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced started stabbing me in that same spot. I couldn’t breathe without extreme pain and nothing would stop it. Somehow I managed to get myself out of the gym and drive home, crying all the way.

Alan massaged my back, got me some ibuprofen, and had to help me shower and dress–it was that debilitating! I laid flat for most of the day, and could only take shallow breaths. At dinner time, I went downstairs determined to help myself, made a list of analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory essential oils, and made myself Daytime and Nighttime Roll-on Blends.

Alan applied the Nighttime Blend after dinner. I didn’t feel any better and took ibuprofen around 9:30pm. I was crying in pain by 11, so he applied the Nighttime Blend and massaged my back again. At 5AM I woke up and felt quite a bit better, fell back asleep and woke at 9:15AM to way less pain and much more mobility without pain. No ibuprofen all Monday, just a massage and the Daytime Blend!

Although I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the week, I am thrilled that the pain and stiffness have been reduced this much. I will have the doctor take a look at my back and hopefully I can get some physical therapy soon.

So here are the blends in case you want to re-create them for yourself to have on hand for extreme pain situations.

Daytime Pain Relief Blend: In a 10ml roller bottle, 10 drops Clary Sage, 7 drops Rosemary, 7 drops Laurel, 10 drops Sweet Marjoram, and 11 drops Spike Lavender, and fill the bottle with Calendula oil or a carrier oil of your choice

Nighttime Pain Relief Blend: In a 10 ml roller bottle, 11 drops Clary Sage, 7 drops German Chamomile, 5 drops Frankincense, 7 drops Black Spruce, 15 drops Lavender

(Disclaimer: The information contained in this post does not take the place of medical advice and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or ailment. If you are in pain, see your healthcare provider.)

Lively Lemon (Wellness Wednesday)

I’ve started a new series with my Facebook and Instagram Live videos on Tuesdays and I’m calling it “What Should I Do With My Oils?” Plenty of people I know have quite a collection of essential oils, but some don’t actually know what to do with them. (Hint: You DON’T DRINK/INGEST THEM!!!) I thought it would be helpful if I share the information I talk about in my Live videos in written form, especially so you can find all the blends and recipes in one place. Click here to watch yesterday’s Facebook Live video on Lemon.

Let’s Dive into Lemon:

Latin binomial: Citrus limon; Family: Rutaceae; Part of plant used: peel or zest of fruit.

Storage: Because it’s high in limonene (one of the chemical components) you need to store lemon in a dark container in the fridge or a cold room away from sunlight and heat. It can become oxidized and cause dermal sensitization. Average shelf life is 1-3 years. Err on the side of a shorter shelf life.

Safety concerns: It depends whether your lemon was expressed or distilled. Expressed lemon is preferred for aromatherapy; distilled tends to be used in food flavoring.

Expressed lemon presents a low risk for phototoxicity. If you’re using it topically, and your skin will be exposed to sunlight, applications should be lower than 2%. Or you shouldn’t expose your skin to sunlight/tanning beds for at least 12 hours.

Distilled lemon can be a dermal sensitizer when oxidized. (can cause skin irritation when the essential oil is old)

Drinking Lemon Essential Oil (Don’t Do It!!!): 

Two reasons why you shouldn’t put essential oils in water and drink them: 

  1. Essential oils don’t dissolve in water, so it’s hard for your body to absorb or assimilate essential oils because it’s not dispersed evenly.
  2. Because it isn’t evenly dispersed, the droplets of oil are floating around in your stomach and can irritate the mucus membranes of your stomach.

Benefits/Core Therapeutic Actions: antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, diuretic, astringent, immune enhancer, sedative.

Indicated for: It’s an air purifier, immune-boosting, preventative measure against contagious illnesses, detoxifying, good for circulation, varicose veins, digestion, lymphatic congestion, muscular/joint aches and pains, headaches, general fatigue and weakness, prevents prematurely aging skin, good for acne, oily skin, helpful for anxiety and depression, anger/irritability, calming and stabilizing, refreshing, and cooling.

Blends well with: evergreens like Black Spruce, Scots Pine, Cypress, Juniper, Cedarwood, Lavender, Clary Sage, other citrus oils like Grapefruit, Lime, Mandarin, Niaouli, Eucalyptus, Spike Lavender, Helichrysum gymnocephalum.

Blends/Recipes:

Pick-Me-Up Diffuser Blend

5 drops Lemon

3 drops Lime

2 drops Grapefruit

Anti-Anxiety Diffuser blend

3 drops Lemon

3 drops Lavender

2 drops Basil 

Anti-Inflammatory Muscle/Joint Blend (adapted from Aromatics International Recipe)

5 drops Black Spruce

5 drops Helichrysum Italicum

5 drops Roman Chamomile

5 drops Juniper Berry

4 drops Lemon

1 oz olive or sesame oil or Calendula Herbal oil/Trauma Oil

Blend together in small jar or bottle and apply to sore muscles or joints as needed.

Sore Leg Relief Blend (great for varicose veins, swelling, pain, etc.) This recipe is one I use every single day and at night too! You don’t have to have all of these oils–Lemon on its own is great for circulation, swelling, and leg pain, but if you have any of the others, they go great together!

7 oz fragrance free lotion 

1 oz Magnesium Oil

10 drops Lemon

10 drops Bay Laurel 

10 drops Cypress

10 drops Lavender

10 drops Juniper

Clearing Room Spray

4 oz spray bottle

30-40 drops essential oils

2/3 to 3/4 distilled water or Hydrosol

1/3 to 1/4 rubbing alcohol

15 drops Lemon

10 drops Clary Sage

10 drops Lavender

I highly recommend taking the free introduction to aromatherapy course at the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies! It’s about 20 hours long and will give you a good introduction to the world of aromatherapy, including essential oil safety, blends and recipes, and much more!

https://www.aromaweb.com/recipes/rafresh.asp

https://roberttisserand.com/2015/08/robert-tisserand-interviewed-on-ingestion-dilution-and-other-safety-issues/

www. Aromaticstudies.com