Here it is August already. How did that happen? I’ve decided to play in month-long blog challenge and I thought it would be fun to do another abecedarium. This time around I’ll be focusing on various self-care topics. I know for a lot of folks when things get crazy busy and stressful self-care can often be the first thing sacrificed.
But I believe as Palmer Parker so eloquently stated:
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.”
So this month I’ll be blogging about various self-care practices and tools I use. Perhaps they’ll inspire you or gently remind you of what nurturing you need, what delicious ways you can take care of your one precious self. And hopefully we’ll have some conversations about your own practices. Let’s all add to the collective file of self-care ideas that we can all dip into.
So to begin…
is for aromatherapy.
Pure plant essential oils have been used for thousands of years to relieve stress, promote relaxation, clear the mind, energize the body, uplift one’s spirit, and in countless other applications. Essential oils are certainly more than just pleasant scents – they can restore, rejuvenate, and transform. And they most definitely have a prominent place in my self-care repertoire.
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from various parts of plants and trees. And while they’re natural, as with all things they deserve care and respect as you work with them. It’s almost never a good idea to apply an essential oil “neat” to your skin – meaning straight from the bottle without somehow being diluted, such as with a carrier oil like jojoba. Essential oils can be used in a myriad of ways. They can be inhaled, perhaps as a couple of drops on a tissue, or added to a bowl of steaming water; or used in a diffuser to scent the air. They can be used in baths, added to carrier oils and used for massage or worn as perfume; used singly or in combination.
If you’re going to be working with essential oils I think it’s reasonable to do a little research. Get a basic book or visit an online site such as aromaweb.com. Be mindful of the cautions, if any, listed for each oil. Most people won’t have an extensive collection of essential oils as I do as an aromatherapist, but a small selection of two or three is a perfect place to begin. Always buy the highest quality essential oils you can – they’re often labeled as therapeutic grade, and please be mindful that you do NOT want to confuse essential oils with fragrance oils which are almost always synthetic.
If you want an energizing essential oil consider Grapefruit, Peppermint, Orange, Ginger, Bergamot, Coriander. Citrus oils in general are more likely to be phototoxic meaning that applying them to your skin and then exposing yourself to sunlight can cause skin irritation, so care needs to be taken. (That’s the kind of thing I mean when I say get a basic essential oil/aromatherapy guide and watch for the cautions).
Calming choices might be: Lavender, Chamomile, Marjoram, Geranium, Clary Sage.
Lavender is a lovely way to begin and you’ll find it plays well with others so it’s a good choice for blending.
Besides getting a book that covers aromatherapy basics, here are a couple more specifically-focused books you might want to check out:
Planetary Apothecary: An Astrological Approach to Health and Wellness by Stephanie Gailing. This is kind of a full-service directory, offering not only aromatherapy suggestions but a myriad of others, categorized by astrological sign.
Daily Aromatherapy: Transforming the Seasons of Your Life with Essential Oils by Joni Keim and Ruah Bull. This one takes you through the year, on a day-to-day basis with essential oil suggestions along with visualizations and intentions related to those oils.
You may want to focus on one particular oil a month, or use them as the occasional calls, or do as I do as a daily practice and intuitively choose an oil or a blend of oils to work with.
And if you aren’t really interested in working with essential oils then perhaps you can go straight to the source and buy yourself flowers. It’s not really working at the same therapeutic level, but I don’t think anyone (who doesn’t have allergies) would argue that flowers are glorious allies and surrounding yourself with them is a joy. And doesn’t that make for a perfect dose of self-care?
So what about you? Are you a fan and practitioner of aromatherapy? Have a favorite essential oil or blend of oils? Have a tip you liked to share? A favorite flower? What one self-care thing have you done today? Do tell – you know I love I to hear.