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.”

Monday Meditation

I sat cross-legged on my yoga mat one morning at the beginning of practice and began to cry. The instructor was guiding us toward the place we wanted to be and told us to focus on that, rather than the stuff in our heads, and the things that were wrong.

I was weighted by much that was wrong–real and imagined. Things I have continually heaped on myself since my divorce and things that I wanted to change about my own life and surroundings. Ways I attempted to control circumstances so I could bring order to places in my mind and body that I felt were lacking. I was a mess–full of anxiety and wrapped tightly into a cocoon of sadness and guilt and darkness.

On the mat, I began to moved through the poses. The focus was on strength and the idea was that we are stronger than we think we are. The poses became more intense. I shook in holding poses, (planks, especially) and felt fatigue hitting me in waves as I did yet another vinyasa. But as I continued through the difficulty of the practice I felt stronger and calmer and more assured that my life was a thing of complicated beauty.

Off the mat, several hours later, I began to meditate on empowering thoughts. Then I wrote them down. You know what? All that anxiety and guilt and regret and need to control my surroundings just melted away! It was such a relief!

This was so helpful to me that I wanted to share my list with you. I encourage you to make your own–it’s actually kind of fun and I think you’ll feel anxiety slip away and a sense of calm and strength center you.

I Can

I can be my best self today.

I can tell the truth today.

I can enjoy my life today.

I can be kind and generous to myself today.

I can be kind and generous to others today.

I can bring ideas and solutions to work today.

I can accomplish what I need to today.

I can listen today.

I can say I’m sorry today.

I can release the past today.

I can learn today.

I can be enough today.

I can matter to others today.

I can love people today.

I can take care of my body today.

I can take care of my soul today.

I can love my children today.

I can love my husband today.

I can stay in the light and not hide today.

I can be a good friend today.

I can drink enough water today.

I can get outside and let Nature embrace me today.

I can laugh today.

I can communicate better today.

I can improve on yesterday today.

I can say no when I need to today.

I can say yes when it’s wholehearted today.

I can make mistakes and grow today.

I can be God’s child today.

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




What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Like a Failure

Let me be honest: it is a challenge to walk the wellness path I encourage others toward. It takes lots of time and dedication to the dreams I want to manifest. It takes willpower, grit, gumption, tears, motivation from many sources and plenty of failing forward. I have many areas I still want to master. In the spirit of transparency, here are some of the things I am working on this year:

I need to be dedicated to daily writing, daily meditation and yoga, daily practice of my instruments. I have an irregular schedule, so I’m thinking that the best way to make these things happen are to make appointments in my calendar app and then follow through. I am not a morning person and do not think clearly enough to write first thing, except morning pages, perhaps. But maybe yoga would work in the morning.

Here is the emotional/mental/spiritual aspect of myself I need help with the most: being grounded in my body enough that I can be calmer, less anxious. I startle easily, am a “Nervous Nellie” as Alan calls me, and am often on the verge of panic. I am taking an herbal blend and use essential oils in the diffuser to help with this, but there are more pieces of this puzzle to be found.

The relational and personal growth-type of area I most need help in: being able to stop what I’m doing and focus on the other person, whom I love, without being preoccupied with work and wishing I wasn’t interrupted. It is really hard for me to change gears, let go of my plan, and be present with someone when I think I really need to get back to whatever I was doing.

I may fake it as well as I can on the outside, but inside, I’m fuming at having to live someone else’s plan for myself. Sometimes I can tell them that now isn’t a good time, but plenty of other times, I need to let this be my life: giving my time, energy, love and attention to the other person.

After all my years serving at church, reading books on selflessness and about being more like Christ, I wonder if I’ve progressed at all? I still like what I like and although I can be a grownup and do all the responsible, giving things on the outside, on the inside I am often willful and rebellious, smart-mouthed and sarcastic. It’s a good thing we can’t hear each other’s thoughts!

So, what do I tell myself? Do your best today! That is my aim everyday, as I’m sure it is yours. We aim to be our best selves, we sometimes miss the mark, but we reassess and keep going after the goal.

How do we treat ourselves after falling on our faces? Plenty of negative, critical self-talk, right? To care for yourself, though, and to promote inner emotional and mental health, you need to be kind to yourself. If you, like me so often, tend to beat yourself up with your thoughts and inner talk, then switch it up! Be encouraging. Find things to compliment about yourself. Remind yourself that mercies are new every morning. Tell yourself “I love you and you deserve to be loved”.

For Lent this year, I gave up negative self-talk about my body and my actions. Every time I catch myself getting ready to unload the mean words gun, I am amazed at how natural it is. It feels weird saying “I love you” to the parts of my body that I’ve never liked much. It feels weird to not criticize the way my jeans fit or my face looks on live video. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s stretching me in the right direction!

So today, assess your life and be honest about where you need to grow, be more consistent, be kinder, let go, create space, or boundaries. But notice the way you talk to yourself and if it tends toward the negative, then begin to sweeten your tone, be encouraging and kind, and tell yourself you are loved and lovable. Because you are!



Self-Care for Scurrying Souls

On this day before Thanksgiving, whether you are shopping, cooking, or traveling to be with loved ones, most likely you are in motion and, possibly, going non-stop. You are thinking of that long shopping list, all the pies you need to bake (or pick up), or are making sure you remembered to pack all the necessities before you get in the car and start the long trip to Grandma’s.

I get it. I’ve been there. This Thanksgiving, my biggest stress is to continue making products to get into my Etsy shop and to sell at upcoming craft fairs. I feel like an elf in Santa’s workshop.

Yesterday I took product photos until my back ached like I’d been weeding the garden for hours. Then I sat in my office chair for the rest of the day and late into the evening editing photos, listing products on Etsy, and making ornaments. 

Although the day started off with a pretty challenging Vinyasa class on YogaGlo, the rest of the day I forgot I lived in an actual body and didn’t take care of myself. My diffuser sat on my desk unused, my throat was dry because I didn’t drink enough water, and my back ached from all the photography, and sitting and hunching in my chair. 

You know what’s great about our bodies? They only put up with so much and then they lay down the law. My back and neck sent up a cry of protest overnight and I woke up with a lot of soreness and stiffness.

I am using Arnica gel on my neck and shoulders and a pain blend massage oil on my back.

I am drinking tea and plenty of water.

I am diffusing a great blend for my stuffy nose and asthma, and am getting up to walk around periodically.

I am taking time for short yoga sessions.

I am reading poetry because it lifts me up in ways prose can’t. (Currently I’m reading Devotions by Mary Oliver.)

So today will be a different story and I’ll still get plenty of work done. This is my plan:

The takeaway from this tale: don’t wait until you’re sick or in pain to take care of yourself!!! Do it right now!

And now for my diffuser blend. You may not have heard of the first two essential oils, but I encourage you to incorporate them into your life. I get most of my oils from Aromatics International. They have some pretty amazing deals for Black Friday week. Here’s a link for $15 off your first order.

Niaouli has fruity, fresh, warm and camphor-like qualities. It is great to support the immune system and healthy airway and lung function. It is antibacterial, anti fungal, soothes pain and inflammation, and is a decongestant. 

Spike Lavender is not the same as regular Lavender. It has a touch of camphor-like aroma, it is stimulating and energizing, is great for healthy lung function, and helps with pain and inflammation.

Cypress has a woodsy, balsamic, resinous aroma. It is good for healthy breathing; it promotes proper circulation, is calming and uplifting to emotions, and has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, decongestant, and antibacterial qualities.

Breathe Clear, Feel Better Diffuser Blend (I use the greater number of drops because I’m in a large, drafty room; if you’re in a small space, you can use less.) 

Niaouli 6-10 drops

Spike Lavender 3-5 drops

Cypress 3-5 drops

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear readers! Remember to take time for yourself today!!!

*This post contains affiliate links. It helps pay for this blog. If you choose to purchase through a link, it will benefit me in a small way at no cost to you. 

What Is Saving My Life Right Now (October edition)

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How has this October been treating you? Have you stayed well, enjoyed the colors of the leaves turning and adjusted to the temperature dropping? Do you tend to get blue this time of year or do you come into your own, reading, working on projects, and loving to snuggle under cozy blankets, making plenty of hot tea or coffee and nourishing soups, and focusing inward a bit more?

I am probably a mix of both of these–I really enjoy cooler weather and being a bookworm at heart, it’s easy to settle into an indoor kind of life. At the same time, the transition of losing a little more sunlight each day challenges me to be proactive about staying positive and looking for natural solutions to heightened anxiety and bouts of insomnia.

The title of this post comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Leaving Church. I’m following in the steps of other bloggers who like to pause during each month and ask themselves the question, “What is saving my life right now?”

      1. My Fab Four Smoothie. This smoothie comes from nutritionist Kelly Leveque’s book Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever. (Thanks to my friend Ellie for the recommendation!) Kelly advises her readers and clients to start the day with a smoothie that contains the Fab Four: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. The reason for this is so that your blood sugar won’t spike, your energy levels won’t crash, and you won’t find yourself so hungry/hangry again so soon after a meal. Since I’ve been a smoothie-for-breakfast fan for years, just some small adjustments to my recipe, such as just half a banana rather than a  whole, a handful of spinach, and a tablespoon of coconut oil or almond butter are making a difference in my appetite. I definitely stay full longer and don’t want to reach for a carby snack by mid-afternoon.
      2. Ashwagandha Root . Kelly recommended a few supplements in her book and this was one. Ashwagandha Root, or Indian Ginseng, is an adaptogen. What’s an adaptogen, you ask? Oxford Dictionaries defines an adaptogen as: “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” Since I’ve been struggling to keep anxiety from getting the better of me, when I heard about Ashagandha, I decided to get the powder form and add it to my smoothie. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, so I need to keep using it before I can report more accurately on its effects, but it seems to help calm me down. (Obviously, check with your doctor before including this in your supplement regimen.)
      3. Listening to positive, you-can-do-this podcasts. I’ve been immersing myself in the wisdom of women entrepreneurs this month. Particularly, I am tuning into the words of Jenna Kutcher and Rachel Hollis (again, thanks to my friend, Ellie). Feelings are so fickle! Somedays I wake up feeling like I am enough and other days I need to hear someone else’s story, to hear how they built their business, what obstacles they faced, the hard work they put in to become successful, and their encouraging words to those of us who are still on the journey. Jenna’s podcast is called The Goal Digger Podcast and Rachel Hollis calls hers Rise. Check them both out! I’m pretty sure your spirit will be lifted from the abundance of positive content that they provide. IMG_1400
      4. Pachinko . I am about halfway through and I love it! It is beautifully written and the characters are so engaging, the plot so captivating, that I know I’ll be sad when I reach the end. Honestly, I feel like I’ve read a lot of unspectacular fiction this year, but this is a unique and delightful book that stands out all on its own.
      5. Friends. I’m an introvert and often think I can go for weeks at a time without contact from anyone other than my family and partner. My independent nature is slowly beginning to believe that I actually need people, that I need other women to connect with, to share life with, to give to them and to receive the gifts of listening and conversation, the benefits of their life stories and experiences, the wisdom, healing, and nurturing that comes from healthy relationships. I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve known for years, as well as the ones I’ve met more recently.
      6. Digestive Enzymes. Yeah, what a change of topic! Like Julia Michaels, I’ve got issues, or at least my digestive tract does. I’m constantly working on fine-tuning my diet so that I can eat a meal without pain. This month I bought Garden of Life – Omega Zyme Ultra Digestive Enzyme Blend, and, for now, at least, they are really doing the job. As long as I remember to take the enzymes with my meal, I am distress-free–no cramping, no pain, no bloating, etc! This is really good news! Here’s to hoping they keep on being effective.
      7. Yoga. One of my goals this year was to move closer toward a daily yoga practice. Whether it’s a 10 minute power yoga video, a 20 minute Hiit video with Sadie Nardini, a 30 minute before-bedtime relaxing sequence, or (my favorite) a 75 minute Hot Power Yoga class in Ithaca, it all helps to reduce my overall tension and anxiety levels and provide a sense of calm, strengthen my core and entire body, and increase flexibility. I’ve managed to fit in yoga more this month than any other this year, and it feels so good.

So what’s saving your life this October?

 

* This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

A Diffuser Blend to Boost Your Mood (Wellness Wednesday)

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Am I the only one who has been fighting the blues now that the weather is colder and dusk settles sooner? No, I didn’t think so. I’m reading (and loving) The Upward Spiral and taking a look at my life and asking myself how I can make small changes in my day that can benefit my depressed brain and boost my mood.

As I study for my aromatherapy certification, I am learning so much about how aroma affects the brain and the emotions, as well as the physical body. Just breathing in certain aromas can change your mood, prevent you from getting a cold, or help strengthen your immune system.

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Some folks think aromatherapy is weird and a bunch of hippie New Age nonsense. Well, they’re actually just shutting down a whole world of wellness possibilities. Think about it: don’t you get a cold because you breathe in someone else’s cold virus some of the time? Of course, you can also get sick from touching a contaminated surface and rubbing your eyes or putting your hand into your mouth. But if sickness can come to us through the air we breathe, why is it so hard to believe we can boost our mood, stay well or prevent a cold, for example, through breathing in a diffused essential oil blend?

Just yesterday afternoon, I was feeling weepy and blue. I set the coffee kettle on the stove to boil, and grabbed Gabriel Mojay’s Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit from the library shelf. After leafing through a few of the pages on depression, and using my intuition and sense of smell, I came up with this blend.

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Lift Me Up Fall Diffuser Blend:

5 drops Cypress

2 drops Juniper

3 drops Sweet Orange

Fill your Diffuser to the fill line with distilled water, add the drops of essential oils and turn it on. Diffuse for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

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Within half an hour of diffusing, I stopped in the middle of my work and it hit me: the sadness and emotional heaviness had completely lifted! All I could think was, Thank You, God! I am so grateful for the very real power to heal holistically that is available to us through what we find in Nature. It’s amazing and very empowering on a personal level!

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I’d love to hear about how you stay well and boost your mood during the Fall! Do you have a favorite diffuser blend? Please share with us in the comments!

PS, if you want to learn more about essential oils for free, this link will take you to the The Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Summit airing 12-6pm EST October 23-26.

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!