Stress & Self-Care…
First Posted March 2016
If nothing in the world ever changed, there wouldn’t be Butterflies – Unknown
Change is a part of life & how well we handle the stress of these transitions can affect our overall well-being. Stress in small doses can be a good motivator, whether you are applying for a new job or position at work, planning a wedding or maybe you are moving to a new home. But if your stress is from constant worrying & it continues to build unchecked, stress can impact your physical health, such as:
- your respiration & heart rate increases, which can affect your relaxation & sleep patterns.
- digestive juices stop flowing with can lead to stomach upsets.
- your immune system shuts down which may lead to an increase in colds, flu symptoms, etc…
When you are feeling stressed it is important to take time for self-care. Be aware of what is going on in your body & what you are feeling. You may be realizing that you need to try some different techniques to manage your stress better.You may want to try:
- Meditation or Yoga: Take a moment, stretch your body, slow your breath & to go inward.
- Keep a Journal: Get your thoughts out of your head, & onto paper so you can stop thinking about them & focus more your day. Author Julia Cameron writes about doing Morning Pages… An everyday journaling ritual to clarify & prioritize both your positive & negative thoughts. Ms Cameron says” Think of it in Yang & Yin terms…Of meeting your shadow self & taking them out for a cup of coffee”. Most people want to only focus on their “positive” self & deny the darker or shadow parts of their personality. I think that we need to acknowledge & have compassion for all aspects of ourselves, especially when we are doing the best that we can. Until we learn to have compassion for ourselves, we won’t be able to have compassion for other people.
- Set Healthy Boundaries with everyone in your life, (and maybe say No sometimes).
- Do “YOUR” Best… you don’t have to be perfect.
- Learn the difference between Worrying & Caring: Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D. says “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it; whereas caring is taking action.”
- Pay attention to your physical needs: Maybe get a massage to relax tense muscles or try reflexology on your feet, it feels amazing. Eating better or changing your diet, especially if stress is affecting your digestion. And of course, the big one is the amount & the quality of your sleep.
- Drink Tea Daily: try an herbal tea, like Lemon Balm or maybe some Black Tea.
Practice Self-Care Daily. It is important to take moments for yourself throughout the day, take a breath, take a bath to help yourself to relax & unwind.
- Diffuse Essential Oils
Essential Oils that you may want to consider for De-Stressing:
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is probably the most popular & well known of all of the essential oils.It is good for stress-related issues as well as insomnia.
Black Spruce ( Picea mariana) has a sweeter and softer scent than most of the other tree essential oils. Diffuse it to get grounded or if you are feeling tension, stress or anxiety.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) is a sweet, floral, base note that has anti-depressant and sedative properties.
Frankincense ( Boswellia carterii ) is a wonderful essential oil that is known for its sedative properties, so diffuse it for stress or if you are feeling anxious.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is a crisp, floral essential oil that has uplifting, balancing & anti-depressant properties; it is also helpful for hormonal issues.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is extremely useful for stress, depression, nervous tension and hormonal stress due to its calming and sedative properties. ***Don’t use Clary Sage if you are driving or if you have been drinking as it amps up the effects of the alcohol.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) is an uplifting yet calming essential oil that is wonderful if you are tense, depressed, or stressed. It is also good for PMS & jet lag. (Lemon essential oil has similar properties too) * Most Citrus essential oils are phototoxic, so do your research before topical use.
Sweet Marjoram (Origanium majorana) is a green, herbal scented essential oil that has balancing & relaxing properties that are useful if you have nervous tension or insomnia.*** Marjoram is best for short term use, as it can dull your senses & cause drowsiness.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelium nobile) is very relaxing due to it’s sedating & anti-depressant properties. This essential oil, which smells like a cross between hay & apples is also helpful for insomnia & stress. ***Don’t diffuse Roman Chamomile if you are allergic to Ragweed.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a lovely, citrus essential oil that has calming, uplifting & anti-depressant properties which are helpful for stress, & insomnia. (You can also use Sweet Orange, Mandarin, or Neroli essential oils as well) *** Most Citrus essential oils are phototoxic, so do your research before topical use.
One other essential oil to consider is Melissa (or Lemon Balm) (Melissa officinalis) is one of the more expensive essential oils, due to how hard it is to harvest. It is helpful for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. A less expensive way to use Melissa is to use the hydrosol or you can try the herbal tea. (Lemon Balm tea is so effective, I thought that it was worth mentioning. It is really good Iced as well)
Using Essential Oils:
Diffusing – Add a few drops of essential oil to an ultrasonic diffuser or a candle diffuser. (Never leave a candle diffuser unattended)
Inhalation- use a personal inhaler, smelling salts or put a couple drops of essential oil on a tissue & inhale as needed.
Topically – Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil or unscented lotions. Most Citrus oils are phototoxic to some degree, so do your research before use. If you want to use essential oils in your bath, Dilute them in a carrier oil or milk (Undiluted essential oils will just float on top of the bathwater, which may irritate your skin & mucous membranes.)
When practicing Self-care, it’s the little things that you do that can have the most impact. So remember, baby steps…. Any time you try to change a behavior or habit, it tends to be 3 steps forward & a 1 step back process, as you navigate a new way of doing things. So be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can….
A good resource for Self-Care is Cheryl Richardson’s Website. (She wrote a book called “The Extreme Art of Self-Care” & she also has 2 decks of oracle cards that I like, one is the “Self-Care Cards” & the other is “Grace” cards.)
My Blog is for information only & is not meant to replace medical advice. Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use.
- Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
- Catty, Suzanne, Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, a division of Inner Trade International, 2001.
- Davis, Patricia. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition, Vermilion, an imprint of Edbury Publishing, a Random House Company, 2005