Do you remember when Christmas holidays were actually holy days and a time for relaxing and visiting with friends and family? Probably not. For most of us, Christmas means balancing work and family schedules while trying to do extra baking, gift shopping, house decorating and entertaining. The result of all this activity often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Not good.
So what to do about it? First, get organized. Figure out what you need to do, plan when to do it and get your family involved. Second, use aromatherapy! While aromatherapy is not an instant solution to your difficulties, it can make life more enjoyable, minimize stress, soothe minor conditions and can make some great gifts. Here’s how.
The first thing to do is get control of your stress. One really pleasing and effective blend combines orange, lavender and neroli in a ratio of 4:3:2. This blend works well in a diffuser, but is especially effective when used as a facial mist or when mixed with an unscented moisturizer base. A similar blend can help calm over-excited kids. Use orange, lavender, and camomile, a ratio of 4:3:3, in a diffuser or in a plain lotion base, applying to the back of the neck (where young children won’t rub with their hands and transfer oil to their eyes). If you prefer to use a room spray, be sure to avoid spraying wooden surfaces and those surfaces which are polished or lacquered.
Now that you’re dealing with your stress, you need to guard against colds and the flu. Christmas is a notorious time for catching a cold--especially when you’re tired and there’s still a long list of things to do. Pot pourris (diffuser blends) are effective for the whole family. Combine niaouli, fir and cedarwood for a fresh forest scent in a 4:3:2 ratio. Or try litsea cubeba, tea tree and peppermint in a 4:4:3 ratio for mind-clearing effectiveness. Myrtle, fir and manuka (ratio 4:3:3) would be another good choice and is a good blend to use on children as well.
If the demands of the holidays still leave you overwhelmed, try a blend of blood orange, myrtle, rosewood and benzoin (ratio 4:4:3:2). You can use this as a pot pourri blend, but it will be more effective as a facial mist or splash and especially effective combined with a neutral moisturizing base or blend applied to back of neck and face. This is also an uplifting blend for people who tend to become a little sad at Christmas.
Another area of the holidays which can be overwhelming is the food. Such an abundance of good things to eat and seasonal treats! Of course, it would be prudent not to eat too many cookies or have a third helping of turkey, but these aren’t realistic goals for many people. Try not to overdo it, but if you do, this blend is for relief of indigestion: lemon, black pepper and peppermint (ratio 4:3:3). This same blend will help with the nausea that can accompany eating too many rich foods.
If you find that you’ve enjoyed a little too much eggnog and rum, the blend for a hangover is litsea cubeba, black pepper, peppermint and immortelle (4:3:3:2). Rub it clockwise on your tummy, on the back of your neck and on your temples. Don’t forget to drink lots of water!
Essential oils also make some great gifts customized for each person on your list. Bath salts and massage oils are best used within six months of creation, so include an expiry date. For the bath salts, use a fairly fine sea salt or Dead Sea salt. Mix essential oils with a bit of surfactant and then blend well with the salt. Oil amounts given are per half cup salt. To use, add a small handful of salt to a drawn warm bath.
Many people like the invigorating effect of rosemary. Create a rosemary bath by using 50 to 60 drops essential oil. For a citrus splash, combine 24 drops blood orange (or orange), 24 drops lemon and 20 drops lime. Be careful of sun exposure! For a bliss bath, use 24 drops orange, 18 drops fennel and 12 drops neroli. For total relaxation, combine 24 drops orange with 15 drops linden blossom and 12 drops jasmine.
Massage oils are a special treat. Grapeseed oil is often used as a base oil but is not organic. If you are using an unrefined nut oil for added richness, such as almond, be sure that the gift recipient does not have nut allergies. Adding some vitamin E to your blends will help preserve them. A blend for sore muscles is always a good choice. Try litsea cubeba, black pepper and neroli in a 4:3:2 ratio. For relaxation, combine orange, camomile and linden blossom (ratio 4:3:2). A good blend promoting de-toxification uses grapefruit, black pepper and juniper in a 4:3:3 ratio.
When working with essential oils, remember that they are natural substances with therapeutic effects. As such, some oils have precautions associated with them. For example, citrus oils can be sun sensitizing and epileptics should avoid camphor, eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, rosemary and sage. Women who are pregnant should consult a qualified aromatherapist before working with or using essential oils.
If you are making a blend for someone who has a medical condition, consult with an aromatherapist on which oils to avoid. Keep essential oils out of children’s eyes. When making blends for children, decrease the normal strength (reduce the number of drops used).
These are just some ideas to get you started. Remember to stay organized and take control of your stress. Enjoy an aromatherapy Christmas!