Twenty first century pace of life doesn’t often make for a relaxing lifestyle. Everything feels rushed, we are more than ever in the ‘do’ mode, where even weekends should be deemed productive and hobbies are skill enhancing. What happened to just sitting down and doing – nothing? Not sitting down and reading the latest self-help book or picking up your phone to post on Instagram, but just sitting say at a café terrace with a glass of rose and taking in the scenery. You do see this in Mediterranean towns where people enjoy a more relaxed pace, but it does feel a little quaint as you rarely see anyone under sixty doing that. I was once having a drink with a friend at a café and when she took a phone call outside I didn’t automatically reach for my phone. I just sat back and relaxed – until a waitress came over to ask if I was okay. Clearly I stood out like a sore thumb looking so idle. If the idea of slowing down a little or taking time to beat the stress sounds appealing, essential oils may be the answer. As explained by Aromatherapy Associates, ‘aromatherapy works on three main levels: through the sense of smell, through absorption (inhalation of the oils) and through absorption via skin.’ Each essential oil has certain properties, so when used correctly they can bring targeted benefits such as improved sleep, skin health or digestion. Here are four essential oils which can help to restore calm to your senses.
Lavender oil to help you sleep
One of the better known and most used essential oils, lavender has relaxing properties and is therefore perfect for use pre-bedtime to prepare your mind and body for sleep. You’ll find it in bath soaks and pillow sprays, but if you buy it in its pure form instead of blended with other ingredients it remains versatile – look out for its Latin name Lavandula angustifolia. This Lavender Essential Oil from Neal’s Yard Remedies is steam distilled from the flowers and leaves of French lavender. You can use it in your bath or shower by adding 5 drops in your shower gel, or 2 drops if you have sensitive skin. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner who offers good massages, you can mix up to 15 drops in 2 tbsp of base oil such as coconut oil. Or you can even add up to 3 drops to a diffuser. There are many ways to use this oil before heading to bed, but make sure you don’t ruin its relaxing effects by picking your phone afterwards. 10ml RRP £9.50
Eucalyptus oil to help you breathe
Effective in dealing with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, the common cold or the flu, eucalyptus essential oil helps to stimulate the immune system and improves respiratory circulation. So if you’re feeling stuffy and fuzzy, Aromatherapy Associates’ Support Breathe Roller Ball can help you clear your head (and sinuses) thanks to its natural blend of essential oils of Pine, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus. This little roller ball has become one of my handbag staples so I can whip it out whenever I feel like I need to refresh my senses, rolling it onto my wrists and neck, like you would a fragrance – it smells so good, a beautifully natural herbal aromatic scent. 10ml RRP £18.00
Peppermint oil to aid your digestion
My drink of choice in my twenties was gin and tonic, and when post-work drinks came around on a Friday night, it was more or less anything going. My thirties have seen me move away from big nights out and a – mostly – healthier focus towards dinner with friends and family, which invariably involves rose and a surprisingly strong uptake from most of my female friends on the offer of a post-dinner tisane. Peppermint tea is a popular choice as it can relieve digestive issues such as heartburn, IBS and indigestion. A peppermint oil-infused bath can bring similar benefits: two capfuls of Aromatherapy Associates’ Support Lavender & Peppermint Bath & Shower Oil in your bath will ease any digestive discomfort as you take a relaxing soak. According to Aromatherapy Associates ‘the molecules in the essential oils are small enough to allow them to penetrate through the skin. The molecules travel through the epidermis (the top layer of skin) reaching the dermis (a deeper layer of skin) and to the blood vessels allowing them to circulate through to all body areas’. So I can indulge in a second helping of chocolate cake knowing a peppermint oil bath will ease the over indulgence. 9ml RRP £11.00
Frankincense oil to restore a sense of calm
Being half French I feel I should have known this: the word frankincense comes from the old French “franc encens” meaning quality incense. I’ve always associated this oil with Christianity as it was one of the gifts brought to Jesus by the three wise men, and the deep warm woody scent brings to mind churches full of incense. But beyond its religious connotations, frankincense essential oil helps reduce stress and anxiety, bringing a sense of calm to your mind. I first discovered frankincense essential oil in doTerra’s Motivate blend which provided such a comforting warm scent I was using it like a natural fragrance on my pulse points. For a pure source of frankincense, Fushi’s ethically sourced and sustainably farmed Frankincense Organic Essential Oil can be used as a massage or bath oil or added to an incense oil burner at the end of a difficult day. 5ml RRP £10.00
A year ago I knew very little about essential oils, but I feel they are becoming increasingly prominent in beauty routines as more and more we aim to make a place for wellness in our busy lifestyles. To find out more about essential oils from a pro you can read my #beautyinsider Q&A with Nina Sadlowsky. Which essential oils do you rely on for your wellbeing? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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