Essential Oils Blog

Take a Breath and Cool Your Jets

image_print

essentialwellbeingheaderimage2


So, let’s talk about stress.

Trust me, I hear you …

Listen, sister, I can’t just leave my relationship, quit my job, and move to paradise.

Ok, well, I actually did do all that, but my life still wasn’t stress free.

What the heck?!

While those were the right decisions for me, I didn’t change how I dealt with stress. I surgically removed some major stressors, but I didn’t remove the stress condition.

And guess what? New stressors showed up! Everyday stressors. Traffic jams. Poor customer service. Rude people. Aggressive drivers. Deadlines. And, some bigger ones. Health concerns. Financial worries. Family issues. And, I was still stressed!

The stressor is the thing that can push our buttons. The stress we experience is how our mind and body respond to it.

Let’s break this down.

There are two types of stress. Both start in the mind, and then, impact the body (remember that mind/body connection we talked about in Food for Thought Part I and II?)

Acute stress is healthy in the moment. It is a survival Mental Stressmechanism designed to keep you from being dinner for dinosaurs.

Once, your mind notes to self “Holy Cow! T-Rex is looking hungry,” your brain responds by flooding your body with the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol to prepare you for the classic “fight or flight” state. Physiologically, your heart rate increases, your breath shallows, your muscles tense and blood moves away from your core toward your extremities.

After the crisis is averted, you are meant to return to a relaxed state often referred to as “rest and digest.”

 

Here is what happens when we don’t.

This is called chronic stress and it has become an epidemic condition. If we believe we are faced with more than we can handle, and this sense is unrelenting, our body remains in the “fight or flight” state to prepare for the perceived danger.

And, this constant psychological distress of the mind creates a long-term physiological stress on our body.

  • Up to 90 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.[1]
  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death–heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.[2]
  • Stress has been linked to serious chronic conditions such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and skin conditions.[3]
  • More than 50 percent of ongoing emotional disorders, such as depression and anxiety, may be the result of untreated stress as the source.[4]

That survival surge we get to ditch the dinosaurs, over the long-term, is toxic to our wellbeing. The ongoing flow of epinephrine and cortisol continue to flood the body so much so that the body can no longer compensate and rebalance.[5]

Researchers now know that this chronic stress cocktail not only weakens our cardiovascular system, but also our ability to regulate inflammation. And, this unregulated inflammation can take off like a rocket fanning the flames on the development and progression of disease.[6] Additionally, our immune system becomes compromised creating another whammy to fighting off illness.[7]

 Here’s the good news.

While we can’t avoid all the stressors in our lives, we have the power to respond to them in a way that supports our wellbeing.

My mom used to tell me “take a breath and cool your jets” when I got worked up, and she was truly on to something. Remember that shallow breathing in the stress response? It turns out, if we reverse that with deep breathing we can trigger our own relaxation response. [8] And, here’s why.

Breathe

When we engage in deep, slow breathing, we stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen. The vagus nerve then tells the brain “all is well” and to “cool your jets.” Even the first conscious, deep breath can begin to calm our mind and body, slow our heart rate, and decrease our blood pressure. [9]

 Here’s one way to create our own portable practice. We are going to combine deep breathing and aromatherapy.

  1. Choose and prepare your aromatic blend
  • I have provided two blends below, which you may find helpful.
  • For this exercise, I prefer using an inhaler because it promotes deep breathing and you can take it on the go.

This blend is generally soothing, balancing and calming:

This  blend is one of my all time favorites to support letting go of strong, turbulent emotions:

2) Now, we are going to combine our aromatic blend with deep breathing.

  • Hold the inhaler under one nostril while gently holding the other one closed.
  • Inhale your blend gently, deeply, and slowly down into the lungs, feeling your belly expand, to the count of 3.
  • Hold a moment.
  • Exhale slowly, through the mouth, to the count of 3.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat on each side if desired.

 3) If you choose, you can focus on relaxing words while you inhale and exhale.

  • I like to inhale “Peace” and exhale “Calm.”

I hope you find this practice helpful. Remember, when you find yourself in a stressed state, inhale, exhale and repeat.  Stressors are everywhere. Even in paradise. I keep an inhaler to support a deep breathing practice with me wherever I go so that I can return myself to relaxation on the run (even if T-Rex isn’t after me).

 


Sources:

[1] Association, A. (2015). How Does Stress Affect Us?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 30, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-does-stress-affect-us/

[2] Association, A. (2015). How Does Stress Affect Us?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 30, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-does-stress-affect-us/

[3] WebMD, “The Effects of Stress on Your Body” webpage. Viewed 4/19/16

[4] WebMD, “The Effects of Stress on Your Body.” Webpage. Viewed 4/19/16

[5] “Understanding the Stress Response – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

[6] Carnegie Mellon University. “How stress influences disease: Study reveals inflammation as the culprit.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2012.

[7] “Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.

[8] “Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.

[9] “What Happens In Vagus.” Cleveland Clinic Wellness. Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Web. 10 May 2016.

 

DIY Lotion Spray

image_print

Lets-Get-Creative-900x200

I initially wanted to make this for day trips to the beach since the salt water dries my skin out so much.  However after using it twice it’s now my go to lotion for all over my body!  It isn’t greasy yet it’s very hydrating and simple to apply.  Spray, swipe your hand across it, done!  I do prefer to store mine in the fridge because I like how refreshing it feels going on my skin cool.

DIY Lotion Spray

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure and add all ingredients to spray bottle.
  2. Shake and spray (shake well before each use to avoid the need for an emulsifier).

 

 

DIY Outdoor Candles

image_print

I’m loving all of the options using these synergies to create so many fun projects!  With the DIY Outdoor Wipes, DIY Outdoor Spray, and DIY Outdoor Lotion Bars you should be protected like a fortress!

DIY Outdoor Candles

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Put wick in the center of the candle holder.
  2. Melt wax completely in a double boiler.
  3. Remove bowl from double boiler.
  4. Add essential oil and mix well.
  5. Slowly pour into candle holder.
  6. Make sure your wick is centered.
  7. Let dry completely.
  8. Light the candle and enjoy!

 

  • This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

After the project, clean up tips!

image_print

Do you have questions (2)


I wanted to take some time today to share a few clean up tips with you. After making projects in your kitchen all day – it’s inevitable. The clean up. BUT there is beeswax everywhere and oils are dripping all over and…. and…. this is when I want to give up and order take out. So below you’ll find a few time saving tricks that I use to get things cleaned up a bit faster (and easier) so I can get on with making the next meal. After all, someone is always hungry in my house!

After I complete my project, I get out plain paper towels and wipe out as much of the residue that I can. Sometimes it’s been long enough that the wax has hardened so this can be a challenge. I have a set of little plastic scrapers that I use on my stoneware, I find them useful here as well. A plastic knife would also be great, if you didn’t have those scrapers. Use the scraper or blunt side of the knife to remove the largest portion of beeswax/product.

Project CLean-up tips

The “hot” method

Once you’ve done that, run your tap water to the hottest it can be, and fill your container. Allow to sit for a few minutes to soften, then dump out the water. Now, use a wad of paper towels to wipe away more of the residue. If you’re still having trouble, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the softened beeswax/product to provide some “grip” and wipe again with a wad of paper towels.

The “cold” method

If you’d rather not use boiling water to clean up your beeswax, you can consider placing your cooled glassware into the freezer, once “frozen” the wax becomes brittle and is easier to break off the glassware. Once again, use a plastic butter knife to scrape off the beeswax left on the glass.

Finally, we visited an issue that you may have occur when creating your special project. It doesn’t happen often, but inevitably a spill or accident will occur. Be prepared and know how you’ll handle this before it occurs. You can learn more in our blog post Essential Oil Emergency! Now what?” This ensures you are always safe and ready for anything!

As always, we want to hear from you! Do you have a project clean-up tip to share? Leave us a comment here to share with others! OR contact us by emailing Aromatherapist@planttherapy.com for any questions, concerns or comments you may have. You can join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes and participate in lively conversation with other essential oils users. We have your safety in mind – so come hang out with us to learn even more! We look forward to seeing you there!

Preservatives

image_print

As people are choosing more and more often to make their own household and personal products the safety of preservatives is a hot topic.  As Plant Therapy continues to share DIY products to show how to safely and effectively use different essential oils, we will be using preservatives in some of these products. However, we are not experts in preservatives. We are experts in aromatherapy. If you have any questions on the ingredients we choose to use or any other questions related to the specific DIY recipes we share, we are more than happy to help! But, if you have any questions regarding preservatives, we recommend you do your own research and/or contact an expert in preservatives.

Here are some links and a couple charts that have helped answer some of our questions on preservatives. Hopefully these get you looking in the right direction on preservatives and why they are sometimes needed and recommended. Thanks!

 

 

Recommended links: 

*We would like to apologize for any confusion on our previous preservative post. There were some assumptions made and we in no way  meant to be confusing or meant to be misleading. If you have any questions, please email one of our managers directly at retha@planttherapy.com. Thank you!

Foot Balm Recipe

image_print
Lets-Get-Creative-900x200
This is the perfect addition to the foot scrub we recently posted.  I was looking at the ingredients to my heavy duty foot cream and quickly decided I needed a natural foot balm.  I love to put this on my feet at night, with a pair of socks, I wake up to the softest feet!  
 Foot Balm Recipe
What you’ll need;
What you’ll do;
  1. Mix all oils together.
  2. Over a double boiler melt beeswax.
  3. Once melted turn off heat, add oil mixture.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Pour into 2 1oz containers.

 

  • This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

DIY Outdoor Lotion Bars

image_print

Lets-Get-Creative-900x200

Tis the season of outdoor annoyances!  Warm these lotion bars with your body heat, spread on your skin as you would any lotion, and enjoy the benefits of having the area around you clear!  You can also find recipes for DIY Outdoor Spray and DIY Outdoor Wipes!

DIY OutdoorLotion Bars

What you’ll need: 

What you’ll do: 

  1. Weigh all ingredients into glass bowl.
  2. Use a double boiler to melt all ingredients completely.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in 100 drops of essential oil.
  4. Pour into silicon molds.
  5. Cool, pop out of molds, and enjoy!

DIY OutdoorLotion Bars2

 

  • This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

Body Butter Recipe (Crude VS Refined)

image_print

Lets-Get-Creative-900x200


Crude vs. RefinedBody Butter-2 Today I’m super excited as I’ll be doing two diy body butters.  You want to know how to make body butter?  You’ve come to the right place!  After a day at the beach or pool my kids and I are anxious to get moisture packed back into our skin to prepare for another fun filled day in the sun.  Here are a few of the differences when comparing refined to crude shea and cocoa butters.

Refined VS CrudeCocoa Butter

Refined Vs CrudeShea Butter

Crude vs. RefinedBody Butter-4

What You’ll Need;

 

What You’ll Do;

  1. Melt butters on medium low.
  2. Allow to cool on counter for a half hour.
  3. Whip oil in for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Whip for another 15.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. Whip for 20 minutes.

Crude vs. RefinedBody Butter-3

What You’ll Need;

What You’ll Do;

  1. Melt butters on medium low.
  2. Allow to cool on counter for a half hour.
  3. Whip oil in for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Whip for another 15.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. Whip for 20 minutes.

DIY Outdoor Wipes

image_print

Lets-Get-Creative-900x200

These wipes are not only a breeze to make but easy for my kids to apply as well.  I sometimes pin one to our tent or picnic blanket and it works fabulously at keeping the area around us free and clear of outdoor annoyances.  Be sure to checkout our DIY Outdoor Spray, DIY Outdoor Lotion Bars, DIY Outdoor Candles.

DIY Outdoor Wipes

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Cut a roll of paper towels in half using an electric knife or serrated bread knife.
  2. Place paper towels into container, if you have to “smash” it a bit to fit, that is ok, once wet we are taking out the core!
  3. In a separate bowl add witch hazel, carrier oils, and essential oils.
  4. Mix well and immediately pour mixture over paper towels.
  5. Once soaked, you can easily remove the core.
  6. Seal with lid and use as you would any other wipes.

*If you decide to replace the witch hazel with water you’ll either A. Need to use a preservative (optiphen plus is one I use) or B. Keep stored in the refrigerator.  The reason for this is that bacteria growth naturally occurs with water based products and a preservative or storing in the fridge helps keep it to a minimum.

 

  • This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

 

Food for Thought (Part II)

image_print

essentialwellbeingheaderimage2



To recap from Food for Thought (Part I), we said thoughts are things. We discussed how negative thoughts and emotions can be toxic to our health through a neurochemical connection between our mind and body.

Here, we are going to talk about how we can make our thoughts more nourishing to our wellbeing.

Very simply, we have power to rewire the message playing in our heads. And, wait until you see how aromatherapy is perfectly suited to support this!

Our brains have this very cool feature called neuroplasticity. We used to think our brains were hardwired in childhood and unchanging after that. But, in the mid-1960’s, scientist found that the brain is actually very pliable and adaptable. In fact, it is constantly reorganizing itself and creating new messaging pathways based upon stimulation from our environment, and our thoughts and behaviors, over the course of our entire lifetime. [1]

What this means is we can choose to change the unhealthy patterns from the negative thoughts and emotions that can become conditioned over time. When we turn off these patterns, we turn off the spigot of neurochemicals that is stressing our systems.

Okay, are you ready for some simple solutions? Here is our version of a Triple A map for this part of our journey: affirmations, anchors and aromatherapy.

Affirmations

Affirmations are simply a positive thought used to replace a negative thought. They help to create new patterns and focus the mind on something we wish to create for ourselves. Repeated enough times, the mind begins to accept it and adapts. So, hold that positive thought. We are going to come back to it in a moment.

Anchors

One of the most fundamental ways we learn is through a process called associative learning. This is when a response is learned through stimulation to our senses from an external cue.  For example, when I smell cookies, I feel hungry. When this association becomes connected to a mood, behavior or feeling, it is called an anchor. When I smell cookies, I have very happy memories of baking with my Grandma.

Research into how scent acts as an anchor has been prolific since the 1980’s, including how these anchors can influence mood when inhaled again later, even at the smallest levels. A positive anchor used over and again, can help establish new connections and patterns in the brain more quickly and help us to readily remember what we learned [2].   Because scent acts as such a strong anchor, investigators are studying how to use this in therapy [3].

Aromatherapy

Smell is the only sense directly connected to the brain. When we inhale, scent molecules go immediately from our nose to our brain through a specialized nerve pathway without passing go.

Here is the really cool part!

Scent travels to the very same part of the brain – the limbic system — where emotions, behaviors, mood, and memory are processed and stored.

Whearomatherapy1n I smell, or even think of the smell, of Play-Doh, the memory file drawer just springs open and wonderful childhood scenes start playing like moving images in my brain.

This is also the same part of the brain where the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems are regulated to let our bodies know if we are relaxed and happy, or unhappy and stressed. And, scientists believe the limbic system is also where associative learning takes place. Pretty, cool, huh?

Ok, so what does this all mean and how do we use it?

It is really super simple!

We are going to use aromatherapy to create new positive thoughts about ourselves. This will allow our minds and bodies to bring themselves back into a healthier state of balance and wellbeing. And, this is something you can do for yourself on-the-go, as needed, and in private.

Are you ready?

1)  Determine an affirmation that works for you. It would be something easily remembered. It needs to be a positive statement in the present tense.  And, it is used to replace a negative thought and repeated as needed.[4]

For example: “I am smart and confident.

2)  Choose a scent, or a blend of a few scents, from your essential oils. Sometimes, just keeping it simple is best so the brain can associate it as an anchor.

Here are some possibilities to get you started. But, don’t over think it. Just reach for something that appeals to you and puts you in a positive place.

3) Choose something to hold your scent so that it can be easily portable and within reach. Some options might be:

4)  Notice when you have a negative thought without judgment.

For example: “I am stupid”, or, “I have a stupid question.

5)  Inhale your chosen scent as you repeat your affirmation to yourself.

For example: Inhale bergamot as you tell yourself “I am smart and confident.”

6)  Repeat as often as needed.

Eventually, it becomes easier to think more positive thoughts and to  discard negative thoughts as they appear.  And,  we are able to more readily access this positive place we have created for ourselves.

 

By creating a happier outlook in the way we think about ourselves, we can support a healthier state of our own overall wellbeing [5].

For me, sandalwood + bergamot and an affirmation of “All is well” immediately transports me to the “Life is Good” place! I hope this discussion of essential wellbeing helps you find yours!

 


Resources:

  1. Brain Topography, 2011, Volume 24, Number 3-4, Page 302
    Pascual-Leone A., Freitas C., Oberman L., Horvath J. C., Halko M., Eldaief M.; et al. (2011). “Characterizing brain cortical plasticity and network dynamics across the age-span in health and disease with TMS-EEG and TMS-fMRI”. Brain Topography 24: 302–315. doi:10.1007/s10548-011-0196-8
  2. Kirk-Smith MD, Toller C, Dodd GH. Unconscious odour conditioning in human subjects. Biol Psychol. 1983;17:221–231. [PubMed]
  3. Tisserand, Robert. “Three Things That Happen in the Brain When You Inhale Essential Oils.” How Essential Oils Work In the Body Mini- Course.” Tisserand Institute. Online video clip. YouTube. February 29, 2016. Web. March,19, 2016.
  4. Hay, Louise L. You Can Heal Your Life. United States: Hay House, Inc. 1999.  Print.
  5. Cohen, Geoffrey L an d Sherman, David K. “The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention.” Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2014. 65:333–71. Web. April 20, 2016.  https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/annurev-psych-psychology_of_change_final_e2.pdf