Just Breathe…

breathe

Living on Canada’s west coast surrounded by trees, I was more concerned about daughter’s year-round hay fever and the air quality in my home. I thought about outdoor air quality in the abstract, but never about how it directly affected me or my family. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives.

This past summer was a wake-up call.  “Summer 2017 has been B.C’s  worst wildfire season on record, & as of Sept 28, more than 100 fires are still burning.”  Many communities have been impacted, like Williams Lake, 100 Mile House & the Elephant Hill fire, near Cache Creek & Ashcroft. The smoke affected the air quality near the fires but it also affected air quality in different areas throughout the province.  One day this past summer, I was outside in the middle of the afternoon, everything was hazy, the air felt thick, & it was hard to breathe.

I have never thought much about breathing other than if I had a chest cold or sinus congestion. From the moment of our birth, our body’s  “autonomic nervous system” controls our breathing; we don’t even have to think about it. Adults breathe anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. If you do the math, (which I did), that adds up to 17,280 – 28,800 breaths per day (depending on your fitness and/or stress levels). While we can’t-do a lot about outdoor pollution personally (well other than voting in governments that have strong environmental protection plans, writing letters/ petitions to your MP or MLA, and recycling! Sorry that was just a little rant), we can do something about the air quality in our homes.

Things you can do:

  • Get rid of chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric refreshers, and Synthetic Room Sprays/ Plugins.
  • Avoid using Incense & candles with synthetic fragrances, or at least limit their use and get some ventilation into the room. (I am finding that these 2 things really bother me.)
  • Go more natural with your Personal Body Care Products. There are a lot of products available, but educate yourself & read the labels to find the best ones. (No one in my house is allowed to use a certain type of Body Spray because it affects my breathing.)
  • Air out your home frequently. Many manufactured items in your home will continue to off-gas to some extent. Older homes were drafty so this wasn’t as much of a problem, but newer homes are more airtight so it is important to open some windows periodically, especially during the winter months.
  • Consider getting some plants in your home. NASA calls plants part of “Nature’s Life Support System”. Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, English Ivy & Weeping Fig plants are a few to consider; they are fairly hardy & are thought to help with air quality due to the photosynthesis process.

And you can also use Aromatherapy in your home. When using essential oils, cheaper isn’t better, quality is. It is important that you find a reputable supplier that sell pure, hopefully, organic &  unadulterated oils; that your suppliers know where their oils come from & they share all the important information with you. (And if someone wants to sell you “100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils, know that this is a registered trademark of the company. There is no organization that oversees the quality of essential oils.) At a minimum you need to know:

Continue reading “Just Breathe…”

Don’t worry, it’s just Anxiety.

First posted February 2017

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. ~Author Unknown

Most people use the term “stressed out” as an umbrella explanation for what is going on anxietywith them. What may be causing some of the confusion is that while stress & anxiety share similar symptoms, the causes are very different.

“Psychology Today” defines stress as, “Simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.”  According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, “Anxiety is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. The fear of the unknown & the uncontrolled situations in life & and the worry about how to handle it.”

What Causes Anxiety?
It has long been thought that brain chemistry, heredity, and environment may contribute to causing anxiety and anxiety disorders like Panic Attacks, OCD, and PTSD.

Brain Chemistry: Because symptoms of anxiety tend to be helped by medication, experts have long believed that brain chemistry may play a part in triggering anxiety. There are also contradictory studies that state that this is not the case. These findings definitely need more research.

Heredity and/or Genetics: While there is evidence that anxiety runs in families, research is showing that it is because of the handed down behavior and thought processes rather than the genetics themselves that is causing anxiety. Children often witness the ongoing anxious behavior of their parents, which they learn to model.

Environment: There are findings that suggest that people who come from challenging backgrounds are more likely struggle with anxiety. Poverty, as well as traumatic events like abuse, the death of a family member, witnessing violent events, or natural disasters, can trigger anxiety. More research and resources are definitely needed.

If you have anxiety you will find that in your everyday life, anxiety tends to ebb and flow. Some days you are doing ok, some days you are doing really well, and then you get triggered by a person or an event and your anxiety is back… sometimes a little or sometimes a lot. Managing your anxiety, for most people is an ongoing process. Don’t be hard on yourself because you think that you can’t keep it together. Being angry at yourself actually, makes your anxiety worse.  In times of stress and anxiety, we tend to revert to familiar behaviors; so, try to come up with strategies that will help you to manage your anxiety, as well as get you through your more challenging days. Continue reading “Don’t worry, it’s just Anxiety.”

Working towards Gratitude…

With the New Year, there are lots of blogs about releasing negative patterns and feeling canstockphoto19853169Gratitude all over the internet.  Everywhere you look on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook, there are well-meaning yogis, life or fitness coaches who #hashtag about gratitude. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what if all of this gratitude stuff isn’t resonating with you right now?  Before you dismiss me as being all negative, let me explain…

If you have been going thru a transition, whether by your own choice or not, it can bring up a lot of different feelings and some of these may be the ones that No One Wants to Talk About…THE NEGATIVE ONES!!!! (Cue the music here).

Positive or Negative, feelings are just that, feelings. I find that it is better if you don’t attach judgment to them. Repressed feelings can keep you stuck in the past and prone to repeat old patterns. Some will repress their feelings in the name of positive thinking. This can make it hard to move forward, to embrace passion in your life, as well as feeling GRATITUDE. I agree with author Christiane Northrup, who says “With spiritual practices becoming very popular, so too is the practice of taking a “spiritual bypass” to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.” 

Painful feelings can actually be a gift in disguise. They are often clues that give you insight into what is going on in your life. If you are feeling resentment, maybe you are constantly putting everyone else’s  needs ahead of your own. If you are feeling restless, it may be time to make a change. Sometimes you can have mixed feelings about an event; this is okay too. It is possible to be happy and sad at the same time.

Taking the time to honor your feelings is an important part of self-care. Sometimes an interaction or an event can trigger a feeling; when this happens, take a moment, and do what you need to do to help yourself feel and possibly understand where the feeling is coming from. Sometimes when we feel pain, we shut ourselves down to try to cope. All this does is lock the pain inside us. Take time to find tools that work for you. These tools are helpful as you move thru a painful time and can help you start the process of healing. Continue reading “Working towards Gratitude…”

Sleep Part 1 – Tired of Being Tired…

First Posted June 2016

“3 o’clock in the morning & it looks like its going to be another sleepless night,”  (“Talking in your Sleep”, by Roger F Cook & Bobby Wood)

And yes, these are the words to a country song, circa 1978, but it also seems to be the canstockphoto8773353story of my life. My friends know that I am often up at 3 am. Most of the time I’m reading a book, but I will admit to posting on Facebook, writing emails or writing this blog because I am wide awake and I can’t sleep. This has been happening since my early 20’s, & I have to admit that I’m tired of being tired.
Research has shown that a lack of sleep can seriously impact our health. Sleep allows the body to recharge our immune system so we can fight off colds & infections, and it gives the body a break from all of the stress in our daily lives. When you have ongoing sleep issues it may be time to look at the body’s natural timekeeping system or your circadian rhythm, which affects:

  • your body temperature
  • your sleep and wakefulness cycle
  • your  blood pressure
  • releasing hormones into your body.

For most people, the length of a complete circadian cycle is very close to 24 hours.”So it makes sense to pay attention to and follow your bodies natural schedule as much as you can. (like being exposed to sunlight and darkness at the appropriate time of day).

Some ideas to consider…
In the morning:

  • try to get outside, go into your backyard or on your deck, and take a deep breath or two. It will help to ground you. Being exposed to the sunlight gets you into the wakefulness part of your circadian cycle.
  • The morning is a good time to use an uplifting essential oil either in your diffuser or just doing a quick inhalation from the bottle. Try a Citrus like Grapefruit or Lemon, or maybe consider Sweet Basil or Spearmint.
  • Limit your caffeinated beverages to one in the morning and one around 3 pm.
    If you have the time, try to fit in your daily workout.

Lunchtime:
The are foods that you can eat that may help you sleep better. Ones to consider:

  • Hummus, Turkey, Tuna or Shrimp & Walnuts, all contain tryptophan a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps the body make  melatonin,
  • Kale & Spinach have a lot of calcium which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.

2 – 4 pm in the afternoon: 
Our body temperature lowers between 2 pm & 4 pm (just like it does at night) which tends to signal to us that it is time for sleep. This is the time of day that most people want to take a nap (I know I do). Now would be a good time to:

  • Get up and move around, and if you are able, take a short walk preferably outside for a few minutes.
  • Have your last caffeinated beverage of the day.
    snack on Almonds, they are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep

In the evening:

  • Limit the use of electronics to earlier in the evening. (There are apps that will dim the lights on the screen as you are winding down for the night.)
  • Put a  relaxing essential oil or blend into your diffuser and take a moment to enjoy the scent.
  • Start a ritual of self-care & unwind before bed. Take a bath, dim the lights, put on some soft music, whatever will help you to relax.
  • Switch to drinking Herbal teas like Lemon Balm, its good for stress.

And at bedtime:

  • lower the temperature in your bedroom if at all possible.
  • find a good pillow (I’m still searching)
  • Turn off the notifications on your phone. I hate being woken up to the Mario Brothers coin sound when I got an email notification at 4:10 in the morning for something that I don’t want.
  • Run your diffuser for approx 30 min, as you are settling down for the night and use a blend with relaxing or sedating properties.

 

Essential Oils to use for Relaxing: Some people think that if less is good, more would beNeroli Petitgrain, orange sweet marjorambetter. This is not the case with essential oils. Some essential oils like Lavender & Sweet Orange are relaxing in small amounts & stimulating in larger amounts. With essential oils, less is always better

Here are a few of my favorite Relaxing Essential Oils:

Lavender:  one oil that most people know and a good place to start if you are new to essential oils. It is relaxing and can be diffused for children and adults alike.
Chamomile, Roman: is a gentle relaxing essential oil, perfect for children when used in small amounts.
Sweet Orange: this oil is extracted from the rind of the fruit, smells amazing and most people, especially children really like it. (You can also use  Mandarin)
Neroli & Petitgrain:  both are part of the Bitter Orange Tree, with Neroli being extracted from the orange blossoms and Petitgrain being extracted from the leaves. Both are comforting for anxiety and depression, but of the two I like Petitgrain better because it is not as sweet.
Sweet Marjoram:  a relaxing favorite that I really like. It has a green herbal scent.
Cedarwood: a sedating oil that helps to calm the mind so you can sleep.
Frankincense: an oil that calms your breathing. Helps you to relax if you are stressed or anxious.
Patchouli:  a base note essential oil that is grounding, meditative and relaxing.
Vetiver: a base note that is meditative with an interesting scent. Really! It smells like dirt. But I love its relaxing feel and I’ve grown to like the scent.

The easiest way to use essential oil at bedtime is to diffuse it in your electric nebulizer that has a timer, so you don’t have to worry about it. You can also dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or milk and add it to your bath. But always dilute before topical use.

So take a moment for yourself, make a few small changes in your lifestyle & your environment, it can go a long way to helping you have a better night sleep.

My Blog is for information only & is not meant replace medical advice. Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use.

References

 

  • Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2004. Print.
  • Davis, Patricia,  Aromatherapy: An A-Z. London: Vermilion, 2005. Print.
  •  Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. London: Thorsons, 2002. Print. 

http://www.quinessence.com/blog/essential-oils-for-insomnia
http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/circadian-rhythms
http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/biology-of-sleep-circadian-rhythms-sleep-stages.htm
https://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com/free-information/articles-archive/conditions/insomnia/
http://www.rd.com/health/beauty/foods-that-help-you-sleep/
http://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/arianna-huffington-better-sleep-tips
“Talking in your sleep” by Roger Cook & Bobby Wood.

Children & Essential Oils…

First Posted February 2016

canstockphoto18111574

When I think about Valentine’s Day, I don’t automatically think of romance… I tend to think about my children, writing out their Valentine cards, & bags of Sweet Tarts… and of course, essential oils. 

Essential oils are the results of the steam distillation or in some cases, the cold expression of plant material.  Simply put, it’s what’s left after the process; small amounts of highly concentrated therapeutic goodness.  And because essential oils are so concentrated, they should:

  • always be diluted before applying topically especially on your child’s skin.
  • never be ingested.

Essential oils have different properties, different chem types, and different contraindications.There are some essential oils that you need to avoid  & some that need to be used with caution especially when making essential oil blends for children. The systems in a child’s body are not fully developed and “some of the components found in some essential oils can be too much for young systems to handle and process”.

Here are some ideas when using Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Babies and Children: 

  • For topical use, always use at a low dilution .25% – 1% depending on the age  & the health of the child; it is best to use one essential oil at a time so you can watch out for skin irritation and possible allergies.
  • If you want to add essential oils to a child’s bath, dilute them first in a carrier oil or milk and then add them to the bathwater. Otherwise, the undiluted essential oils will just float on top of the bathwater, which may irritate their sensitive skin and mucous membranes. (If your child has sensitive skin add some Lavender Hydrosol to the bath water instead.)
  • Children are sensitive to scent, so when diffusing essential oils less is definitely better. Start with 1 -5 drops depending on the age and health of the child and diffuse only when needed  (for congestion or sleep issues. And only for approx       15 – 30 minutes).
  • ***Citrus oils are wonderful and calming but some are phototoxic to varying degrees, so don’t apply them to your child’s skin if you are going out into the sun as this may cause a bad sunburn and/or possible blistering. Reactions vary and may occur up to 2 days after sun exposure. So use caution and common sense.

canstockphoto1904225For Babies 2 months up to 6 months: 

Add Lavender or Roman Chamomile Hydrosol to the bath water. Diluted, these hydrosols can also be used to soothe any diaper rashes or skin irritation.
For Babies 6 months to 1 year:

Add  1-2 drops of essential oil to 60 ml or 4 Tbsp of carrier oil. Try Lavender, Roman or German Chamomile and/or *Mandarin essential oils, diluted with Sweet Almond or Olive oil; massage the baby after their bath or before bedtime.
Add 1  drop of a calming essential oil like  Lavender, Chamomile, Mandarin, Rose or Neroli to a diffuser in the babies room at nap or bedtime.

For Babies 1 year to 2 years:

You can also add  Dill & Palmarosa to your list of oils to use. Dilute up to 2 -3 drops in 45ml of carrier oil.
Add 2 drops of Lavender & *Tangerine essential oil to your diffuser during the cold season.
Children 2 years to 5 years:

You can use *Lemon,  Geranium &  small amounts of Ginger. You can dilute  3 – 5  drops of essential oil in 45 ml of carrier oil, but I prefer to use my diffuser. (Depending on the age of the child, add 2 – 3 drops of essential oils to your ultrasonic diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.

Children 6 years to 8 years:

For this age, you can dilute  4 – 6 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of a carrier oil. Robert Tisserand says “You can add  .05 % of Peppermint and Eucalyptus Radiata, to a blend”. (See below)
Add up to 3 – 4 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.

Children 9 years to 12 years:

At this age, you can dilute 6 -8 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil.
Add  up to 4 – 6 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during cold season

Children Age 13  & Over:

Can use adult dosages of essential oils. (2 % dilution for everyday use,  3 % dilution for short term use for colds, congestion or pain, depending on the health of the child)

There is new information regarding topical use & diffusing Eucalyptus & Peppermint Essential Oil with Children:

robert tisserand kids euc pep

I tend to err on the side of caution so I wouldn’t apply these oils topically, like under the nose or on the chest of children under the age of  6.
For children, ages 2 & up, oils that I prefer to use for inhalation or diffusion are White Pine (Pinus strobus)  or Wild Black Spruce (Picea mariana). They are safe to use and are a lighter scent. Most children don’t like strong smells anyway.

There is a lot of contradictory information out there, so take the time to do a bit research before using essential oils, especially topically on young children. I would also recommend that you get your information from a  reputable source or an aromatherapist. For a place to start, I like the books of Salvatore Battaglia, Robert Tisserand, Valerie Ann Worwood or Patricia Davis or online Beverley Hawkins at WCIA. You can also check my page Essential Oil Safety on this website.

My Blog is for information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice.Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use.

***If you are using a candle diffuser, never leave it unattended

References:

  • Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition,  The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • Caddy, Rosemary, Aromatherapy, The Essential Blending Guide, Amberwood Publishing, Rochester England, 3rd edition 2007
  • 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
  • Tisserand, Robert, & Rodney Young,  Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone, 2014
  • Worwood, Valerie Ann, Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, First New World Library Printing, 2000

http://www.naturesgift.com/aromatherapy-information/how-to-use-essential-oils/aromatic-baby-care/
http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com/free-information/articles-archive/aromatherapy-and-babies/
http://www.quinessence.com/essential_oils.htm
http://naturopathicpediatrics.com/2014/09/08/essential-oil-safety-danger-essential-oils-seizures-children/
http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/08/using-essential-oils-for-children/
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