It is becoming more common for me to work with people who are stressed to the max! Sound familiar? When helping my patients deal with stress, I like to delve deeper into their lifestyle to develop a holistic treatment plan. Do they have a demanding job? Is there stress with work or their kids, or are they in a tough relationship? Is their workout routine too harsh? Do they eat a poor diet? Is their sleep schedule (or lack of) leaving them exhausted? Let’s be honest…no matter who you are, life happens and it’s not always easy. All of these things place stress on our bodies and increase cortisol levels. There are things you can try like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation, but sometimes we need a little extra help. You don’t have to turn to prescription drugs right away. And while there are a myriad of tests we can run to pinpoint what is happening, everyone can begin with small lifestyle changes. One change I like to recommend is incorporating a routine complete with essential oil use several times a day—especially in stressful moments. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their therapeutic and healing nature. They come from the leaves, stems, or roots of plants that are known for their health properties. For some, adding essential oils to their daily routine is just what they need to help alleviate or take the edge off of their stress. Personally, I use some kind of essential oil daily through either topical application or by inhaling, but you need to experiment with what works best for you.
Here are 4 Essential Oils that Help Me Relax:
- Frankincense. Frankincense oil is actually being studied for its effectiveness in reducing stress and even its ability to help fight cancer. Some people experience a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure when frankincense is regularly applied. Others have reported it helps with their anxiety. The best way to use frankincense is either by inhaling or absorbing it through the skin. I like to mix several drops with a carrier oil, like jojoba oil, and then apply the mixture to the back of my neck or on my wrists. A little bit goes a long way!
- Lavendar. Studies have been done on the benefits of lavender oil, and shown that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Lavendar may reduce anxiety and emotional stress, and it smells great too! I like to apply it to my temples, behind my ears, or on my wrists. You can also try applying a few drops on the bottom of your feet before bed. Ahhh…relaxation is just a few drops away.
- Sandalwood. Sandalwood oil may help to release melatonin, thereby helping one to relax and sleep. It may also help to calm and balance emotions, which is very important when trying to minimize stress in the body. Simply add a drop or two to your favorite carrier such as fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil, or apply directly to your temples and behind your ears. Order little glass bottles with rollerball caps! Then, you can easily travel with it and conveniently have it at your bedside to roll on. This oil would make a great gift for the woman in your life [think Mom, Grandma, friend, daughter] who needs rest!
- Spruce. Spruce oil is known for its soothing properties. Specifically, it is known for positively affecting the endocrine system, therefore helping to regulate adrenal hormones, which can produce stress in the body when out of balance. I like to use spruce topically or inhaled through my aromatherapy diffuser. Also, one of the best carrier oils for spruce is lavender. This smell is so appealing and soothing.
Essential Oils & Kids
To help relax and sooth a child who tends to be more anxious or high-strung, I love to use a little lavender or frankincense oil, diluted, and in a glass bottle with a rollerball top! And an added bonus, Frankincense oil may help promote cellular health too!
A few tips:
- A few favorite oils for kids: I like to apply lavender or frankincense on the bottoms of their feet or down the spine before bed or naptime. When applying to the bottoms of feet (don’t miss the toes), put socks on to avoid, well, an oily mess!
- Safety: always avoid the eye area and their hands, and keep oils stored away from their reach. Always check before using a specific oil because not oils are safe for little ones like these two. I like to buy certified, therapeutic-grade essential oils that are from a company I have researched and can trust [i.e., they are reputable and submit to third-party testing]. Oils like peppermint and rosemary are not recommended for young children under six, and should be used with care and caution if you’re around children. Some oils are photosensitive, meaning you should place them on areas of the body where sunlight will not come into contact.
- Diluting: when using oils on children topically, you should dilute them first—about one drop of essential oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil; you don’t need more!
- Frequency: I’ve found a good rule of thumb with oils is to apply a smaller amount, but more often. So consistency is key [isn’t it always the key!].