Self-Care Through the Holidays

If I’m not careful, every year by mid-November, my good self-care habits and intentions fly out the window as I slog away at work and try to fit one more thing into my schedule. But with each trip around the sun, I have become increasingly sensitive to stress, and my body, mind, and spirit cannot handle being ignored.

For instance, if I work past lunchtime, instead of eating when I’m hungry, my blood sugar dips low and I’m tired, dizzy, cranky, and get a headache.

If I stay up too late hunched over my computer–to get just one more thing done–I have a difficult time falling asleep and whatever sleep I do get leaves me feeling not very well rested.

If I fail to move my body and meditate because “I don’t have the time” my joints get sore and creaky, my outlook is negative, and I feel stressed, out of shape, and have low energy.

But it’s true that we all have so much to do and so many places to go this time of year. So how can we have a satisfying holiday experience while still practicing good self-care habits?

What To Do?

There are two ways that I can think of to have a holiday season that aligns with who you are and how you want to feel and still leaves room to take care of yourself and enjoy this festive time.

1. Ask for what you want and need. For example: maybe you could ask a spouse to make dinner more often, ask the kids to step it up with household chores, ask a friend if she could help you decorate for a party.

2. Say no and let go…of the idea of the “perfect” holiday. In order to slow the season down, you’ll have to say no to some things. Maybe you can bake 2 kinds of cookies, not 10. Maybe you can sign up for one charity event, not three. Maybe you don’t need to put up quite as many lights outside as you usually do. Maybe you get Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve instead of that huge Italian dinner you make that everyone loves, but leaves you exhausted. (I’m looking at you, Mom.)

When I was younger, I wanted to give my kids and family the perfect Christmas experience. The month of December was a blur of church events, recitals, and activities that left me with little time for self-care.

I always stayed up late on Christmas Eve wrapping gifts or doing last minute preparations. I’d get up early, serve homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, have my whole family over for dinner around 2pm, followed by a 5pm dessert open house when extended family and friends would come over. I would be dizzy with exhaustion the whole day and couldn’t wait for it to be over!

Then one year, I was actually sick with a fever, but still had to do all the things. That did it! My idea of a perfect Christmas had made me sick. So I smartened up and began to do less and ask for help more.

Questions/Thoughts To Design a Better Holiday

We are a just a week away from Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., which hurls us into the craziness of the commercialized Christmas season. Rather than live the season the same way year after year, what if you really did things differently? I invite you to sit with yourself and ask yourself these questions and then shape the next month in a sensible way that will leave room for self-care, wonder and delight.

Write down your idea of a memorable holiday season: how would you feel, what would you have time for?

Which holiday traditions do you or your family most look forward to each year? (Baking cookies with the kids or with friends, advent readings, attending a religious service, caroling, dinner with family…)

What things could you let go of this year?

What does your self-care routine look like during the holiday season?

What would your ideal daily and weekly self-care routine look like during this time? Be specific.

In order to have a ___________________ holiday season, one in which I take care of myself, enjoy the festivities with my loved ones, I need to: (Hints: ask for help from partner, kids, don’t sign up for as many events/activities, etc.)

Don’t Put Yourself Last on the List

As you’re thinking about the next month, make sure you make yourself a priority. No, this is not selfish! Women especially can struggle to take care of themselves. But guess what? You need to take care of yourself for you and for your family’s sake. Don’t wait to see what everyone else is doing before you decide when you can “fit in” self-care.

Have you ever heard that story about the rocks and sand in the jar? If you put all the sand (unimportant, trivial matters) into the jar (your daily schedule) and then try to fit in the rocks (the priorities) you can’t do it. But if you put the rocks into the jar first, you can fit the sand around them. Your self-care is a rock. Put it into the jar first.

These are my Everyday Self-Care 7

1.Move your body 

2.Drink enough water

3.Eat healthy food

4.Spiritual Practice (examples: prayer, meditation)

5.Get enough sleep/rest

6.Do something you enjoy

7.Practice gratitude

OK, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are designing your holiday season this year. 

Thoughts and ideas on having your healthiest, most satisfying holiday ever!

Courage, Dear Heart (Wellness Wednesday)

We were getting ready to drive to a music gig near Keuka Lake, filling water bottles, ironing clothes, and packing snacks when I spotted the mail basket. I rifled through the pile and came across a letter addressed to me from the U.S. District Court. Oh no!!! (Oh, yes.) It was a jury summons–but this was worse than usual: for a period of at least a year, several times per month, an hour and a half drive each way.

At the moment I felt like freaking out, but we had a three-hour performance that afternoon, so I read it over once and set my freak-out aside until after our show. By the evening, my chest felt tight, by the end of the next day, I had a sore throat and my shoulders and neck were sore with tension.

I filled in the online questionnaire and gave a valid excuse why I couldn’t serve (my business can’t survive without me), but I have to wait three weeks to find out if I still have to go.

So, now I have a choice to make: I can live each moment until then in fear, worry, upset, dread, and panic, or I can find ways to act and think differently–with positivity, joy, and courage.

Gretchen Rubin’s Third Commandment from her Happiness Project is “Act the way you want to feel”. Does that seem too much like “Fake it till you make it”? But think about it: Where will those good feelings come from if we don’t take the energy we have and transform it into something better?

If you don’t happen to wake up happy and positive each day, do you just let that dark cloud of gloom hanging over you ruin your whole day? I’ve absolutely been guilty of this. I’ve also had days where I wake up super negative but do the things I know will propel me out of my funk.

The first scenario is a passive one: I just go with whatever happens, just feel whatever feelings I feel and act however I feel. The second scenario is active: I take what I have and make something better out of it. Do you know these are both decisions?

You and I can either decide that we will let our feelings run us OR we can decide that we will run our feelings. You are more powerful that you realize! You have the power to make or break your day!

But what about if you’re already an anxious person (like I am) and you happen to be in an extremely anxious season? The Fall seems to heighten anxiety for me and I know I’m not alone. We don’t have to take it! (Does this remind you of a certain Twisted Sister song?)

I wanted to share a list of things that help me calm down. Some of these I am learning in Ayurveda School, some of them I’ve learned in the HSP class I’ve been taking, some I’ve learned as an aromatherapist, and some I’ve discovered on my own. They all help, but there’s just one catch: We have to actually do the things!

Get up before the sunrise.

Practice meditation/pray.

Journal and write your manifestations. (Listen to Rachel Hollis in this podcast episode on why.)

Visualize how you want your day to go, walk through any known difficulties and decide how you will handle them. (Thanks, Brendon Burchard, for your awesome High Performance Planner!)

Develop a daily yoga practice. It could be 5 minutes or 90 minutes, but practice. There is nothing else like it for calming the mind, connecting the mind and body, and grounding you.

Drink herbal tea/coffee substitute. You know what? I don’t love most herbal teas, but I drink it because it calms me down. Lemon balm has been daily go-to. However, I just found a new caffeine free gluten free herbal tea that satisfies my coffee craving without the jitters. If you’re a coffee nut like I wish I could still be, you gotta try it: Teeccino Dandelion Coconut Roasted Herbal Tea.

Go for a walk outside. I always feel refreshed and my nervous system feels soothed when I do.

Eat lots of plants.

Have a gratitude practice. This could be in your journal in the morning or at night.

Keep a positives journal. This is new to me, but the teacher of the HSP class said sensitive people focus on the negative too much and need positive things to keep them grounded. Make notes of what good things happen in a day, things you love, moments of happiness, and then read through these when you’re feeling anxious.

Read poetry. YES!!! If you think you don’t like poetry, start with children’s poems and approachable poets like Mary Oliver and David Whyte. Poetry speaks to and nourishes the soul, the emotions I would say that if you’re a sensitive person, like I am, you may not be able to read some poetry that tends to be chaotic, angry, and violent. I tend to gravitate toward poems that express reverence for nature and that speak to the inner life of a person. These are a good place to begin:

Devotions by Mary Oliver

The House of Belonging by David Whyte

Favorite Poems Old and New by various

Get enough sleep.

Get a massage whenever you can and do self-massage daily. Even if you don’t get to a full body self-massage every day, which I highly recommend, at least do a foot massage right before bed. Some warm sesame oil and a drop or two of Lavender essential oil massaged into your feet will send you into blissful slumber.

Practice positivity. Focus your thoughts and speech on “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” This is found in Philippians 4:8.

Spend time processing your day: thinking about and journaling about it. According to my HSP teacher, sensitive people need about two hours of alone time each day.

Take one day off per week. Does this sound impossible? I know, it’s pretty difficult for me as well. When I do it, my life is better. We all need adequate rest and time for recreational pursuits. Work on this one and I will too!

Use an aromatherapy diffuser near your desk while you work and in your bedroom at night. Turning it on for an hour or two at a time is a wonderful way to calm down your mind, emotions, and your whole body. Calming essential oils like Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Black Spruce, Cypress, and Mandarin are a few to try, either individually or blend a few together.

That’s my list. I hope you find some useful tools to help you handle bouts of anxiety. I would love to hear about what things help you when you are feeling anxious.

And, finally, here is an aromatherapy blend to use in your aromatherapy diffuser.

Calming Blend For Anxiety

1 drop Vetiver

2 drops Black Spruce

2 drops Red Mandarin

3 drops Lavender

PS: Today’s title was taken from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis: “But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”

The Art of Attentiveness (Wellness Wednesday)

This week, for Wellness Wednesday, I’m focusing on attentiveness. Charlotte Mason, my homeschooling mentor, called it “The Habit of Attention”. Many call it mindfulness. If you’re thinking, “What does this have to do with wellness?”, that’s a great question because it means you are paying attention and letting curiosity get the better of you!

What started me thinking about paying attention is this online class for HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) that I’ve been taking. I’m learning lots about how to thrive rather than simply survive as a person who processes life differently than most. I’m discovering what my strengths and weaknesses are as a person with this trait and how I can navigate the high levels of emotion that come with it, how I can conserve and replenish my energy, and how to ask for what I need. 

It’s kind of crazy that it’s taken me this long in my life journey to begin learning these things, but as the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And one thing that stands out from this class is that in order to implement my newly acquired tools and techniques, I need to learn to pay more attention.

It Starts With Me

First, I need to pay attention to myself. This is a bit of a challenge for me because I lived most of my life in a culture that was all about service to others. I still absolutely believe in service to others, just not in a way that leaves me completely out of the equation. Even Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, which implies self-love. 

I need to ask myself, “What do I need?” when I’m starting to get tired, upset, overwhelmed, etc., rather than to just keep going until I get to meltdown mode. And “Do I have this to give?” when someone asks something of me. If I’m already in a depleted state, I’ll be giving from a negative, resentful place. If I can live from a place of love and compassion toward myself, I’ll be much more loving and compassionate toward others.

Focusing on the Good in Others

Second, I need to pay attention to others. And by this I mean to focus on the positive qualities that each person has. HSPs can nitpick, obsess, and tend to focus on negative things, especially when tired and emotionally overwhelmed, which is a lot of the time if we aren’t paying attention to our needs. I need to make lists of the good things about those I love and know and repeat those things to myself and say them out loud to them. 

By sharing the things I admire and appreciate about others with them, it will encourage them and reinforce the truths about who they are in my own brain. When I’m with my husband, my kids, or my friends, I need to focus on their words, on their faces and gestures, and savor the moments we have together.

Nature

Third, I need to pay attention and connect with nature. Put on my shoes, step out the door, look, listen, breathe, feel, and notice. What do I see? What sounds can I hear? Does the sun feel hot on my back or the wind feel like it’s pushing me while I walk? What kind of bird is singing in the apple tree? Where is that tang in the air coming from?

Slow Down

And this is the kicker for me: In order to cultivate the art of attentiveness to myself, others, and to the world, I NEED TO SLOW DOWN!!! My smart husband is always telling me this and until I started this class, I inwardly resisted. “But I have so much to do! I’ll never get things done if I move around like a snail.”

During week one, the teacher said, “HSPs need slow mornings”. She said if you start the day off at a clip, your emotional brain revs up, is on high alert, and you quickly lose “energy points”. That explains why I’ve been tired within a few hours of waking up for most of my adult life.

At my teacher’s suggestion, I’ve begun a daily meditation and mindfulness practice. Waking up and meditating first thing in the morning has been a huge help to me this past month. I used to jump out of bed and start on my to-do list, but now I take a few minutes to pay attention to my breath and that sets the tone for the rest of my day. It’s training me to notice my needs so that I don’t overextend myself emotionally and physically. I can give to my family, work better, and still have energy left to enjoy life. And this is living well.

Books

Want to read more about slowing down and paying attention? Here are two non-fiction books on the subject plus a book of poetry that you might be interested in.

The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker

Lost In Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Waal

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Blend

And here’s an aromatherapy blend that will help you focus and cultivate attentiveness. Place drops in diffuser, fill with distilled water, and diffuse for 1-2 hours at a time. Best during the daytime hours.

1 drop Cardamom

2 drops Cedarwood

3 drops Lemon

If you would like to tell us how you’re learning to be more attentive, please share in the comments!

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.

(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

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




Black Spruce (Wellness Wednesday)

The lovely women in my aromatherapy class last weekend.

Yesterday on Facebook/Instagram Live I began a new series, “What Should I Do With My Oils?”. I know a lot of people who own plenty of essential oils: I meet them in doctors’ offices, at the hair salon, at the library, and in my home! But once they get these beautiful oils, they don’t always know what to do with them. So I thought I would highlight one oil per week, talk about its benefits or “core therapeutic actions” as my aromatherapy school says. Also, I’ll share any safety concerns, how to use it and include a few recipes so you can make your own blends at home.

Black Spruce is this week’s essential oil. Latin name is Picea mariana, and it is part of the Pine/Conifer family (Latin: Pinaceae). The part of the plant distilled is the needles. Storage: Always store your essential oils in a cool, dark, place. A little fridge for your oils is a good idea!

Core therapeutic actions or benefits: Anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, immune system stimulating, eases muscular aches and pains, joint stiffness, tension, is a decongestant, can help with colds, spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, moist coughs.

So, how can Black Spruce help you? Well, this time of year, colds are flying around. I narrowly avoided one this weekend because several friends and family members were sick. The good news is, I did not get a full-blown cold–I was able to use herbs and essential oils, including Black Spruce, to fight it. As a performing singer, I do my utmost to keep myself healthy because getting a cold means it takes me about four to six weeks before I get my voice back.

If you’re concerned about getting a cold and want to keep yourself strong and the air in your home clear, Black Spruce can assist you. You can use Black Spruce in a diffuser or in a personal inhaler to keep yourself well and to fight off cold viruses that are flying around.

I made this inhaler blend for myself this weekend, to fight off the cold.

Kim’s Inhaler Blend: 5 drops Black Spruce, 6 drops Tulsi, 7 drops Lemon, 3 drops Cypress, 5 drops Helichrysum gymnocephalum

I put a similar blend in my diffuser to keep the air clear, boost my immune system, and help with congestion.

Kim’s Diffuser Blend: 2 drops Black Spruce, 3, drops Lemon, 4 drops Tulsi, 3 drops Helichrysum gymnocephalum

Sandy and I were choosing the oils for her inhaler. (Thank you, Susan G. for the photo!)

And here is a personal inhaler blend I made for my friend Sandy, who was recovering from bronchitis this past weekend.

Sandy’s Inhaler Blend: 5 drops Black Spruce, 4 drops Helichrysum gymnocephalum, 3 drops Frankincense, 6 drops Lemon, 6 drops Clary Sage.

You can also make a salt scrub to boost your immune system. Here is a simple, but effective recipe:

Immune Boost Salt Scrub: 1 cup sea salt, 1/2 cup sesame oil, 16 drops Black Spruce, 6 drops Niaouli, 10 drops Lemon. Mix together and place in 8 oz PET plastic or glass jar.

If you already are down with a cold and congested and/or coughing, you can try this:

Decongestant Diffuser Blend: 5 drops Black Spruce, 5 drops Niaouli or Helichrysum gymnocephalum, 2 drops Frankincense.

You can also use Black Spruce to ease muscular aches and pains. One way is with a massage oil or lotion blend.

Sore Muscle Relief Blend: In a 2 oz bottle, combine 12 drops Black Spruce, 6 drops Roman Chamomile, 6 drops Frankincense, and 12 drops Helichrysum italicum (very different from the Helichrysum above!). Fill with sesame or jojoba oil or fragrance free lotion, screw cap on and shake well. (This is a 2% dilution.)

And if you like roll-on bottles as a way to bring the goodness of essential oils wherever you go, here is a roll-on blend. Some of us made this in the aromatherapy class I taught this past weekend.

Jenny had a lot of fun experimenting for her roll-on blend. (Thank you, Susan G., for the photo!)

Spring Wellness Roll-on Blend: 1 drop Black Spruce, 1 drop Frankincense, 2 drops Cypress, 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Orange, place drops in 10ml bottle, fill with sesame oil, put roller and cap on, and shake well.

I hope this gives you some fun things to try with your Black Spruce this week! Let me know what blends you enjoy making. Also, please follow my Delicata HouseInstagram and personal Instagram and Delicata House Facebook pages for info about Live streaming, future classes, and new products in my shops on Etsy and Shopify. Thanks!

To read more on Black Spruce, here is a blog post from my aromatherapy school.



Poised for Spring (Wellness Wednesday)

Happy First Day of Spring! We have sunny, cloudless skies and slightly milder weather today, so I’m soaking up the cheer and enjoying birdsong.

Interestingly, in the middle of all this sun and hope and good vibes, I am dealing with anxiety. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, do you find that anxiety heightens during months of fluctuating weather, such as Spring and Fall? Mine does. And as a result, I am always looking for tools that I can use to settle my mind and emotions. I do yoga, drink herbal teas, take an herbal supplement and use essential oils in various ways to alleviate anxiety.

Today I have two aromatherapy blends to share with you that combine some of my favorite oils that will help with grounding, calming, centering, steadying, etc., along with plenty of other benefits.

First, is a massage blend. I chose four essential oils for this blend:

Vetiver: Vetiveria zizanioides; Part of plant used: Roots of grass; Botanical family: Poaceae; Vetiver is strengthening to the immune system, eases muscular aches and pains, helpful for anxiety and depression, nourishing and healing to the skin, is grounding, centering, gathers your thoughts together when you feel scattered in your thinking, is balancing and stabilizing.

Black Spruce:Picea Mariana; Part of plant used: Needles; Botanical family: Pinaceae: Black Spruce is a decongestant, eases minor pain and inflammation, is antimicrobial, antispasmodic, builds confidence, is revitalizing to the mind.

Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia; Part of plant used: Flowering tops; Botanical family: Lamiaceae: Lavender is anti-inflammatory, is good for wound healing, eases muscular aches and pains, is calming and soothing, eases and helps with nervous exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.

Green Mandarin: Citrus reticulata: Part of plant used: Peel/zest of fruit; Botanical family: Rutaceae: Green Mandarin is useful for easing nervous tension, anxiety, depression, headaches, stress, is nurturing, warming, calming.

Steady Spring Massage Blend

In a 2 oz. PET plastic bottle or glass bottle, combine the following:

5 drops Vetiver

8 drops Green Mandarin

13 drops Black Spruce

18 drops Lavender

After you add the essential oils to the bottle, fill the rest of it up with refined sesame oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba. Screw cap on tightly, shake well, and store in a cool, dark place.

To use: Massage into back, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, feet.

The second is a diffuser blend. Here are the essential oils I chose:

Frankincense: Boswellia carteri; Part of plant used: Resin; Botanical family: Burseraceae Frankincense relieves anxiety, tension, supports reflection, contemplation, and prayer, alleviates feelings of despair, is anti-inflammatory, a wound healer, good for respiratory system.

Cypress: Cupressus sempervirens; Part of plant used: Leaves, twigs, cones; Botanical family: Cupressaceae; Cypress is a decongestant, supports healthy lung and airway function, is calming, helpful for alleviating feelings of sadness and during times of transition and bereavement.

Black Spruce: see above

Lavender: see above

Steady Spring Diffuser Blend

2 drops Frankincense

2 drops Cypress

4 drops Black Spruce

5 drops Lavender

Drop into diffuser, fill with water, and diffuse for an hour at a time.

The information I’ve shared with you today comes from my Level 1 Aromatherapy Course from New York Institute of Aromatic Studies.

I’d love to know what you think of either of these blends if you make them. Also, let me know in comments what essential oils you want to learn about or what kinds of recipes you are looking for.