When the day gets derailed or the bad news comes, how do you cope? Is there a way to use essential oils to promote feelings of peace and calm in the midst of chaos? Let me share my favorite tips with you!
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We’ve all had weeks where it feels like everything goes sideways. Last week was definitely one of those weeks in our house between Jem getting four stitches in his chin on Tuesday and John getting in a car accident on Friday night. Honestly, it was stressful. I’m still feeling it in my body. My brain feels fuzzy and my shoulders are tight. But, we walked through the week with surprising calm in spite of our circumstances, and our doTERRA essential oils were a critical part of the journey.
Note: I’m using a couple recent events as examples in this blog, but my recommendations are the same for a variety of circumstances. These have been my protocols through longer stretches of anxious feelings, through grief, though uncomfortable social situations, etc. Also, as always, I am not a health professional. I am speaking form personal experience and if you have ongoing feelings of anxiety or sadness, please talk to a mental health professional.
What oils do I use to promote feelings of calm?
Balance (Grounding Blend)- Promotes feelings of stability and centering. Apply one drop neat (dilute for children or sensitive skin) to bottoms of feet and massage. Sit quietly and breathe deeply for one minute.
Frankincense- Promotes feelings of unity. Put a drop neat (diffuse for sensitive skin and children) along the hairline of the forehead, the part of the hair, and the base of the neck. Diffuse (alone or with other oils).
Lavender- Promotes feelings of calmness, regeneration, and healing. Roll diluted onto back of neck and wrists before stressful situations or at night time.
Lemongrass- Promotes feelings of flow. Diffuse a few drops (alone or with Frankincense).
Peace Blend (Reassuring blend)- Promotes feelings of courage, composure, and flow. Primary ingredients include vetiver, lavender, ylang ylang, and frankincense. Diffuse and/or roll diluted over heart, wrists, and back of neck.
In the Moment
When a stressful event occurs, one of two things is likely to happen. Either, you immediately go to bits and can’t think clearly or you become terrifyingly “calm.” In either case, it may not feel natural to reach for oils, because you’re either totally overwhelmed or busy doing something important like stopping the bleeding on your kid’s face. Train your brain to reach for the oils ASAP. When Jem split his chin this week, I remembered to grab oils before we left for the Urgent Care. I applied a Peace roller on both of us— over our hearts, on our wrists, down our necks and spines— and immediately felt us exhale. A couple hours later, right before Jem got his stitches, I applied lavender on him the same way and watched the exhale. He was able to breathe deeply and calmly and be exceptionally chill while the doc did her work (and the nurse told me the room smelled amazing— I love the side benefits of essential oils!).
Just like my mama instincts include things like, “Stop the bleeding then clean and cover cuts” and “deep cuts might need stitches,” I also want my mama (and self-care) instincts to include oils. Just like I put a bandage on a cut finger without really thinking about it, so I want to put oils over my anxious-feeling heart without really thinking about it. I want essential oils to be an emotional wellness habit!
In the Aftermath
Both Wednesday after Jem’s stitches and Saturday after John’s accident, I could have done better about applying oils to our family to continue promoting feelings of calm. Don’t forget that negative emotions will often kick in stronger later as our “fight or flight” instinct wears off and we begin to really feel the stress. This is especially true in situations where grief or healing follows an event— keep using those oils. First calming ones, then, as you feel inclined, more joy-promoting oils.
Just a quick note: I use the same oils on my kids to promote feelings of peace and calm that I do on myself, I just dilute theirs in roller bottles (see this post for notes about diluting) for easy and safe application). If your kids are able, let them give input about what oils you use on and around them. Kids have good instincts.
I love to diffuse at night. All of the oils listed above are in my rotation of night time favorites, but this week I’ve been especially drawn to 3-4 drops of lemongrass with 3-4 drops of Frankincense. These are oils that help me feel calm and flowing (you know that feeling when you lose track of time while quilting? That feeling), and I think I’ve been drawn to them because I don’t want to feel emotionally “stuck” in recent events. While both Jem’s stitches and John’s car accident were stressful situations, I want to focus on the good stuff (they’re both okay!!), and look ahead to the other side of healing. During times of stress, if diffusing alone doesn’t help me sleep well, I will also roll lavender or Peace over my wrists to absorb them through my skin and breathe them closer to my face through the night.
I don’t diffuse in my boys’ room yet (because I’m concerned the diffuser would get destroyed in the happy chaos), so I will roll lavender on their wrists or pillowcases before bed to help them settle.
With Other Healing Practices
The most important things I can emphasize to you are 1) Use your oils when emotions run high and 2) Use your oils WITH other self-care practices. On an airplane, safety protocol ALWAYS dictates that you put on your own oxygen mask first, then put on the masks of others. Similarly, under times of stress, especially if you are a nurturer by nature or role, self-care/ “me time” / personal hobbies, etc are often the first thing to “give.” However, here are some key practices to hold on tight to and to use your oils alongside.
Drink enough water Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Drink from a glass or stainless steel container, and add a drop of citrus oil to make it taste yummy and help keep your gut healthy while you navigate life.
Eat Healthy Just trust me that you will in fact feel better if you eat lots of fruits and veggies instead of sweets. I love to use a drop of lemon oil in a bowl of water to clean our produce. Just soak for 3-5 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
Move Your Body Stretch or do some yoga flow. Run. Walk. Go to the playground and swing. Movement, fresh air, and sunshine are some of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Don’t break your movement routine when stressful events happen. Instead, use movement to keep your emotions moving and balanced just like your body. In addition to the oils listed above, I love to apply lemongrass diluted topically to my joints before I exercise, and DeepBlue to major muscle groups afterward. Put a drop of peppermint under your tongue beforehand too for respiratory support and a nice “wake up” feeling.
Get Creative Quilt, write, paint, sculpt. Whatever your creative outlet is, DO THAT. Truly, carve out time. Even just a half hour a day. When emotions are high, I like to do a bit of a “sandwich”: Diffuse some oils (either one or more of those above, though wild orange is also a favorite of mine in the sewing room), and stretch a bit first, then get creative, then stretch a bit more at the end. For some creatives, this time is really a “working through” time. If that’s your jam, embrace that. For me, I usually prefer to leave my troubles at the door and just be in my happy place when I sew. It gives my brain and my body a break from whatever is going on.
There are two reasons using essential oils to promote feelings of peace and calm during stressful events is important. First, our bodies chemically interact with the oils, and they help us regulate our feelings and more. This is a physical and emotional benefit that’s happening in our body systems. Second, aromas act as an “anchor” in the brain (If you’re not sure what I mean by that, pause and think about how your two or three favorite places smell. Or think about how valuable something like a sweatshirt of a loved one becomes if they pass away or go on a long trip and you want them to feel closer). This is why it is worth making essential oils a habit, especially if you regularly experience anxious feelings. Identifying a couple of favorite oils to use habitually when releasing one emotion and calling in another will build the association in your brain that says, “When I want to feel (blank), I smell (blank).” As the association strengthens, it will feel easier to release the negative emotion and embrace the positive. At the end of the day, we have the ability to be more empowered about our emotional wellness than we often recognize, and essential oils are a vital part of a healthy emotions toolbox.
Curious about essential oils but haven’t gotten started yet? Let me show you how to get the best essential oils on the planet through doTERRA: