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…”

Is it Rosacea?

canstockphoto40922798My recent blogs have been all about Skincare & Essential Oils. I found so much information, that I am continuing this month with a blog about Rosacea… 

This chronic skin condition affects women more than men, & is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 – 50. Rosacea can be recognized by ongoing facial blushing across the cheeks & on the chin. Your skin may get dry or flaky, feel itchy, or sting. The symptoms of Rosacea have been broken up into 4 sub-categories; they are:

  1. Erythematelangiectatic Rosacea: flushing of the skin, visible or enlarged blood vessels
  2. Papulopustular Rosacea: Swelling & redness of the skin, acne-like breakouts (pimples and/or bumps on the skin, but not black or whiteheads).
  3. Phymatous Rosacea: a thickening or a rough, bumpy texture of the skin; (Men typically get this type of Rosacea, which also may include an enlargement of the nose, a condition known as rhinophyma.)  
  4. Ocular Rosacea: irritated or gritty eyes; eyelids may get red or swollen.

Causes of Rosacea:

The causes of Rosacea are not exactly known. While research is ongoing, what they have found were some common factors that many Rosacea sufferers share.

  • Genetics may be a factor. Some think that Rosacea may run in families.
  • The Rosacea may be caused by an over-reaction of the body’s immune system.
  • The microscopic “Demodex” mite that commonly lives on the skin may be a factor. Studies have shown that some Rosacea patients have a larger than the normal number of this mite on their skin.
  • The body’s reaction & ability to process to a protein called Cathelicidin, may cause the redness of the skin & “determine whether a person gets Rosacea.”  

Common Triggers: Our daily lifestyle choices may also trigger a Rosacea flare-up. These triggers can vary from person to person. These triggers are:

  • Weather conditions like cold & dry winters or hot, dry summers. Sun exposure is also a factor, causing irritation or redness… *** Protect your skin from extreme weather. Apply appropriate lotions to help with dryness & irritation; Sunscreens to protect your skin are highly recommended
  •  Stress may trigger some people’s Rosacea flare ups.  *** Managing your stress is so important in all aspects of our life. Check out my blog on Stress & Self-Care for more info.
  • Extreme exercise along with a lot of sweating may irritate the skin. *** Try less intense forms of exercise. Also, have a cool shower to reduce your temperature & wash the sweat off of your face & body as soon as possible after a workout. 
  • Your Diet may trigger Rosacea; this includes hot caffeinated drinks, spicy food & alcohol especially red wine. *** Keep a food diary to track of your diet, & your triggers. Then modify your diet as needed. This is an important step because everyone’s triggers are different.
  • Make-Up & Skincare may cause Rosacea flare ups. *** Check out the ingredients in your products & avoid abrasive exfoliators. Unfortunately, it is usually by trial & error to find the right products for you. (And you will need to be flexible because your skin triggers can change

When it comes to skincare you may also want to consider using Essential Oils that canstockphoto22894795have been diluted in a Carrier Oil. Like I mentioned in my blogs:  ” Love the “Skin” you’re in…” and  “Love your Skin Part 2 – Carrier Oil.”  Essential & Carrier Oils have different properties that are helpful for different types of skin & skin conditions, which also include Rosacea.

Continue reading “Is it Rosacea?”

Women of a Certain Age…

First Posted May 2017

canstockphoto2737319Women’s lives are full of transitions and Perimenopause is probably one of the biggest.  “It is a time in a woman’s life when physiological changes occur that begin the transition to menopause.” What they don’t mention, is that while you are going thru a lot of physical changes, perimenopause also changes how you see yourself & how you feel in your own skin.
During the perimenopause phase, the hormonal balance in a woman’s body is in flux. The process gradually starts to happen 8 – 10 years before the onset of menopause. What happens during perimenopause is:

  • The ovaries are starting to lose their ability to make estrogen and progesterone and you aren’t ovulating every month.
  • Your periods become irregular and start to taper off until they stop completely sometime around the age of 52.
  • By menopause, most women’s testosterone levels are a lot lower, which can lower their libido.
  • Usually, starts around 40 – 50, but can start in your 30’s or last until your 60’s. Every woman’s experience is different.

I would recommend being proactive and:

  • Get informed about perimenopause/menopause. If you are able, talk to your Mother and/or Grandmother to find out what they experienced. You may have a similar experience, but not always.
  • If your perimenopausal symptoms are impacting your life, talk to your Medical Professional or Naturopath. If you don’t have one, I would recommend finding one that you can really talk to.

There is a lot of talk in the media about different things that you can use to alleviate the physical symptoms of perimenopause. There are also alternatives in the health-food store that you may want to check out. As I mentioned in my “Wise Women” blog, essential oils can help ease PMS type symptoms & they are also useful for many of the physical & emotional symptoms of perimenopause… Continue reading “Women of a Certain Age…”

Blue Christmas & Essential Oils

 

canstockphoto4430859With the Holiday Season fast approaching, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of getting everything done; Being so busy, that you haven’t even thought about how you are feeling.
Some people really enjoy the holidays, while others find that the season isn’t so “Merry” and they are just trying to Make it thru December. It is important to be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel your emotions, and most of all, not to judge them.

Self-care is essential at this busy time of year.
You may need a few strategies as you navigate this special, but sometimes stressful holiday season. A few things to try are:

  • lighten or create some flexibility in your schedule to allow for some down or alone time, so you can relax, unwind & breathe…
  • Only do things that are meaningful to you
  • Saying No when you need to
  • find yourself a support system, someone you can talk to, like a friend, a family member or maybe a qualified counselor or therapist
  • find small ways to make yourself feel nurtured, take a nap, light a candle, put on some music (Or not)
  •  maybe diffuse some essential oils.

Essential Oils have many different properties. Some are uplifting while other essential oils are more calming. Try diffusing some of the following essential oils if you are feeling:

Anger: try Clary Sage, Cedarwood, Lemon, Lavender, Patchouli, Rosemary or Spruce.

Anxiety: try  Cedarwood, Frankincense, Fir, Geranium, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Pine or Sweet Basil.

Depression: try Bergamot, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Frankincense, Grapefruit,  Juniper Berry or Lavender.

Grief: try Bergamot, Cypress, Frankincense, Hyssop, Lemon, Neroli, Rose or Tangerine.

Irritability: try Clary Sage, Chamomile (Roman), Frankincense, Lemongrass or Sweet Orange.

Sadness: try Bergamot, Cypress, Geranium, Jasmine, Sweet Marjoram, or Rose.

This year I am taking my own advice, and I am adjusting my schedule to make time for some things that I “WANT” to do. I am:

  • making time for friends (There is always time for tea or lunch).
  • limiting extra shifts at work, (Sounds simple, right? Not if you are a recovering people pleaser).
  • Getting some extra rest.
  • Taking some time off from Aromatherapy. (My nose needs a break)

And I’ll be snuggling with my cat, Gambitt, on the couch, drinking Chai Tea and watching 12321547_10153772217379346_4659375759824016249_nsome of my favorite Christmas shows, like  “Elf” or “The 12 days of Krampas”  from Season 3 of Grimm or maybe “Pageantry” from Season 1 of Picket Fences.

But mostly, I will continue to try to find the balance & keep making the small changes as I move forward. It is the small changes that we make, that can make the most difference in how we are feeling…

Wishing you many moments of Self-Care & an Aromatic Holiday Season…   

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

  • If you are wanting to diffuse Hyssop, try the Decumbens Variety
  • If you think that you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, please consider seeing a medical professional.

References:

  • Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition,  The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com

Blue Christmas tree:   canstockphoto.com/marish

Stress & Self-Care…

First Posted March 2016

If nothing in the world ever changed, there wouldn’t be Butterflies – Unknown

butterflyChange 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

Lavender2Essential 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. Continue reading “Stress & Self-Care…”