Essential Oils Blog

Millie On My Mind

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Meet Miss Millie!

In honor of National Pet Day, observed annually on April 11, I wanted to introduce you to my new companion, The Magnificent Miss Millie!

We commemorate National Pet Day by celebrating our love for our furry friends. Just as importantly, this day was created to bring awareness to potential pets in need through rescue or adoption, or by bringing assistance to a loved one with a pet who may be suffering from illness or financial setbacks. [1]

And, Millie was indeed a shelter adoption who was there through no fault of her own. Fate, and a good friend, helped us find our way to each other. And, in the ensuing few weeks since, it has been clear as day that my match with Millie falls under the heading of that ubiquitous bumper sticker we see that says “Who Rescued Who.”

Besides the fact that I think she is just cute as heck, and I am hopelessly in love with her, why am I writing about Millie the Wonder Dog in our Essential Wellbeing series?

 

Here’s Why!

The minute Miss Millie moved in, it became immediately apparent that she had taken on the role as my muse, and most importantly my mindfulness minder! To ensure our self-care makes it onto our schedules, some of us have reminders on our calendars and smart phones, some of us meet up with exercise buddies and some of us are just really disciplined.

And, then, there are some us who may have a tendency to drift now and then from consistent best intentions. Yep, even those of us who practice and preach need reminders at times to practice what we preach.

Like everyone else, life can take over our time and we need to find just the right inspiration and motivation to keep us on track. If I am not consistent with my mindfulness practices, my mind left to its own devices has a tendency maneuver me into the worry weeds.

In my last two blogs, we discussed the importance of managing those thoughts that can make an unwanted appearance in our minds:

When the Mind Runs Amok

Aromatherapy for Overcoming Overthinking

And, we discussed some simple steps we could take for self-care, combined with aromatherapy synergies, to help soothe our senses. But, to support a sense of peace and balance, what I need is for all those simple steps to be paved together in a consistent routine. This creates a smoother pathway for prevention on the daily, rather than continually mopping up every single time life spills over.

So! Finding Millie became an intentional part of my conscious wellness plan!

 

Millie and Me

In addition to a companion and a source of comfort, I knew a new furry friend would help create that sense of structure I was seeking. But, Millie brought more.

There is a saying in Buddhist teachings “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.” And, this is my Millie. As it turns out, she is actually a gifted little spirit guide dog who seems to arrived right on time for where I am at this stage of my healing journey.

 In our first two weeks together there were already immediate improvements in some common measures of wellness:

  • My rate of weight loss tripled and inches decreased
  • My acupuncture readings all became the most balanced ever
  • My pain levels decreased significantly
  • My sleep increased from 5 fitful hours to 7 and 8-hour solid sessions
  • My blood pressure dropped to its lowest level in years
  • I was able to walk further and faster than I had previously without pain.

 

How is this possible?

Research is showing not only why pet companionship has a profound impact on our health, but also how. And, it starts with supporting our mental and emotional health. First, we reduce the stress response, which starts in the mind and impacts the body. Left unchecked, mental distress floods us with a stress cocktail of cortisol and norepinephrine, leading to serious health concerns.

You can read more about the impact of this in:

Take A Breath and Cool Your Jets

 

Just as importantly, pet companionship can also promote our sense of peace and pleasure by elevating the happy nerve transmitters serotonin and dopamine.[2]

And, when bonded dogs and their humans gaze into each other’s eyes both are flooded with the love chemical oxytocin.[3] According to NIH, oxytocin “lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal.” [4]

What I call the “peace juice” neurotransmitters also start with our state of mind. You can read more about how they have a positive effect on our wellbeing in:

A Cup of Compassion

 

Millie The Mindfulness Minder

 I do want to say that pet companionship is not everyone at every time. And, that this is seriously ok. It is a major life commitment when sometimes we are simply doing our best trying to manage our own lives. It actually took me more than three years to adopt again after my last furry friend left this Earth for a multitude of reasons.

So, the point of this post is really to share the self-care practices Millie seems to solidify for me. We quickly settled into a routine that works for us to soothe the mind, uplift the senses, and care for the body in a very simple sort of structure broken down into small bites making it easy to keep.

As always, aromatherapy is an awesome ally for enhancing our mental and emotional wellbeing, whether we have a furry friend or not. I have included some of my favorite synergies I use to support my self care when wanting to enhance my experience.

When working with our emotional and mental wellbeing, inhalation is most often the best approach because it is the fastest and most direct route to the part of our brain where our emotions and stress are processed and managed.

Presently, I am using personal aromatherapy inhalers until I become more educated about which essential oils are safe to use around dogs when they are sharing the scent.[5] These are mini-master blends, so you can choose to add them to your diffuser, or triple the recipe to add to your inhaler.

 

Here is what a typical day of self care may look like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Walks and Moving More– Millie and I go for a morning walk around the block almost without fail. This gets the circulation and the joints going, awakens and clears the mind, and fills my being with fresh air before I face the day. Before Millie, I could go from oversleeping to sitting all day working. Now, I am also moving more throughout the day by taking breaks for her and me and just in general getting more done in bits and bites  My fitness watch has never been so congratulatory!

 

Tropical Coffee

  • 2 drops Cinnamon Leaf Cinnamomum verum
  • 2 drops Kumquat Fortunella japonica*
  • 1 drop Coffee Coffea arabica

A delicious aroma to help get you going in the morning, waking you up to the possibilities of a positive day.

KidSafe®: No

Cautions: For cinnamon leaf, we recommend a maximum dilution of 0.6%  for topical use applications.

*Kumquat was recently featured as an Oil of the Month. Please check back to see if it will be offered for general availability. 

 

Mindful Meditation – when we come back from our walk, it is time for morning meditation, and again in the afternoon to close out the thoughts from the busy workday before dinner. Mille loves and looks forward to this quiet time together and snuggles up to settle in which immediately helps to settle my mind. I believe she thinks of it as “Millie Time.” I actually think of her as the “meditation enforcer.” If my mind wanders and I happen to pick up my phone for a peek, she will literally lay her body across me and physically push my arm down with her paw. I was seriously sent a little Zen doggie.

You can read more about the benefits of meditation in

M is for Meditation

 

Peace of Paradise

An indulgent exotic escape, this sumptuous synergy can help a tired mind stay open and on point while practicing meditation or other introspective self-care.

KidSafe®: Yes

Cautions: For Sandalwood Indian, we recommend a maximum dilution of 2% for topical applications.

*Kumquat was recently featured as an Oil of the Month. Please check back to see if it will be offered for general availability. 

 

Engaging the Brain – just like our bodies, our brains need exercising as well. Keeping our mind engaged supports us in staying mentally active and well. In a fascinating and pioneering study of nuns, researchers found links between intellectual stimulation and reduced risk of cognitive decline as we age. [6] For Millie, we are constantly learning new commands and behaviors. Even a playing fetch is about bringing me something to drop on command. For her it is fun, and exciting and you can see and sense the joy in her face and tail. I get the same sense of excitement in my writing and research for work, or reading and completing crosswords in my down time. And, most days, I have the pleasure of Millie’s companionship when I work from home, make my days extra inspiring and stimulating.

 

Clarity ™ Synergy

From Plant Therapy’s line of pre-blended synergies.

The essential oils in Clarity Synergy help to enhance memory and mental focus. Try this synergy when working on important projects or any task requiring clear and decisive mental activity.

KidSafe®: Clarify Synergy is not. For an alternate KidSafe® option, try our KidSafe® synergy blend called  A+ Attention Organic.

Cautions: Safe when used as directed.

 

Soaking in Some Sunshine – As we were figuring out our routine, Millie began asking me to go out in the later afternoon. I thought she needed a potty break and took her out to her favorite grassy spot. It turns out, each time what she actually wanted was simply to roll and lie in the grass, as well as bask in the sunshine. She really, really didn’t want to go back in until she had her sun time so I just took a page out of her book and sat in the grass with her. Just five or 10 minutes and she is good to go. It’s become a thing with us. Millie inherently understands and reminds me what research has revealed. We indeed need a few minutes of sunshine daily to help boost our mood and lift our spirits.

Read more about this in:

The Sunshine State

 

 Sunny Side Up

 A happy, uplifting and mentally clearing blend.

KidSafe®: Yes

Cautions: For Spearmint, we recommend a maximum dilution of 1.7% for topical applications o avoid possible adverse skin reactions.

.

Comfort, Cuddles and Hugs– it turns out Millie is an awesome comfort dog, as well as champion cuddler and Velcro snuggler. I can come in after a rough day, and there she is ready, willing and waiting to attach herself to me with unconditional love. I hug Millie a million times a day, and it turns out she is also an adept hugger. She has a sweet way of putting her paws around my neck and pulling me close to kiss my face or put her head on my shoulder. And, while at 25 pounds, she isn’t quite a lap dog, we won’t fill her in on that minor detail. In her world if she fits, she sits. I’ve learned to just ignore my arm falling asleep in exchange for the comfort of having her close. And, don’t we all feel a lot better when we have the love, comfort and care of another?

 

Loving Compassion  (Heart Chakra) Synergy

From Plant Therapy’s Chakra Synergy Line

Comforting and calming, this synergy helps to ease wounds of the heart and nourish the spirit. It helps to clear and cleanse deep wounds and blocks, while opening and uplifting the heart center. Loving Compassion invites positive energy and encourages a joyful outlook and outward connection, and promotes unconditional love for self and others with compassion and acceptance.

KidSafe®:  Only when diffused.

Cautions: Safe when used as directed.

 

Regular and Deep Sleep – at the end of our day, we all need restorative sleep. This means we need a regular schedule and we need to sleep deeply. It is only then that our bodies can repair and rejuvenate. I am definitely finding that having a day that is more filled with physical activity and mental stimulation allows me to wind down into a more restful rhythm. And, because I have quieted the mind, reducing any mental distress and any resulting nervous tension in the body, I am able to drift into a deeper, more restful sleep quite quickly accompanied by the soothing sounds of Miss Millie snoring softly in my ear.

As a bonus, that good sleep prepares me to awaken the next morning, in a timely manner, fully invigorated and ready to greet another day with Millie the Mindfulness Minder.

You can read about the importance of sleep here:

Slipping Into Slumber

From that blog, here is my very favorite way to prepare mind and body for sleep with an aromatic bath before bed.

 

Relaxing Bath Blend

  • 2 drops Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
  • 2 drops chamomile roman Chamaemelum nobile
  • 1 drop marjoram sweet Origanum majorana
  • 1 – 2 T unscented, natural body wash
  • ½ – 1 c Epsom salts

Add essential oils to body wash to disburse. Mix in Epsom salts. Add under running very warm running water.

KidSafe®: Yes

Cautions: None Known.

 

Naturally, you don’t need a pet to create your own plan of self care. Some folks set a series of reminders for their wellness routine with Siri. As it turns out, Millie is my personal mindfulness minder so that I make time to take care.

My hope is that the main message will inspire you to consider creating your own routine if you don’t have one already however it works best for you.

 


Sources:

[1] National Pet Day, www.nationalpetday.co

[2] Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets#2.

[3] Hecht, Julie. “Is the Gaze from Those Big Puppy Eyes the Look of Your Doggie’s Love?” Scientific American. Scientific American, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.

[4] “The Power of Love. Hugs and Cuddles Have Long-Term Effects.” NIH Health in News. National Institutes of Health, Feb. 2007. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.

[5] At this time, some members of our Plant Therapy aromatherapy team are undertaking training in animal aromatherapy in an effort to help our community with furry friends be more informed about the essential oils they choose to use at home and with their family.

For those who wish to become further educated about safe use of essential oils around pets, we recommend the following:

  • Animal Aromatherapy (Safe Use) Facebook Group run by registered aromatherapist and animal aromatherapy expert and educator, Kelly Holland Azzaro.
  • Kelly also offers online classes in animal aromatherapy both for home use and professional certification through her website www.animalaromatheray.com.
  • We also refer to the book “Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals,” by Kristen Leigh Bell.

[6] staff, CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com. “Learning About Alzheimer’s From a Study of Nuns.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 31 Jan. 2002, www.cbsnews.com/news/learning-about-alzheimers-from-a-study-of-nuns/.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Millie On My Mind”

  1. Great post as always, Ellen. I loved reading about your relationship with Millie. I am quite the dog lover myself, with my Chihuahua sleeping on my lap as I type. For me, having a dog is almost a necessity. Thank you for sharing your inhaler blends! I’m especially looking forward to trying Peace of Paradise. They all sound fantastic though!

    1. Emily, thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. How sweet to know your little buddy is helping you write and fulfill you overall. I hope you enjoy the blends. Give your little chi a smooch from Millie and me!

  2. Welcome Miss Millie! And thank you for such a wonderful post. My boy, adopted a little over a year ago, could pass as Millie’s brother!

    I too am looking for quality resources on using EO’s safely around animals. I’m in Washington State and currently looking for a natrual path vet in my area. I hope you’ll share the resources you find on your journey with the other EO and Pet Lovers who read your blog.

    Congratulations on your new friend!!

    1. Thanks, so much Naomi! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. That’s so cool that Millie has a look-alike buddy out there! If you go to the sources section, at the bottom of the blog, I’ve listed several resources for safe aromatherapy information that we feel comfortable recommending to others! Hope this helps! We have several holistic vets in our area. And, several traditional vets who also are trained in complementary therapies such as acupuncture and flower essences! Smooches to your little buddy from Millie and me!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.