Reducing Holiday Stress with Essential Oils

Understanding the differences between essential oils and fragrances

Tim BlakelyIt's important to note that there is a major difference between pure essential oils and fragrances. Pure oils are produced from plants either via steam distillation (about 95% of all oils are produced this way) cold pressing (citrus oils) or they are produced as absolutes (rose and jasmine). Essential oils are very complex, containing as many as 400 constituents. They have a variety of health benefits and generally speaking are very safe to use.

Fragrances are produced in a laboratory from a petrochemical base, usually coal tar. Fragrances do not contain the same properties as essential oils. They are generally just a few synthetic components, and they are known to be far more likely to produce negative reactions in people. Some products that are not pure essential oils contain chemicals that are extremely toxic. In the process of breathing them in or putting them on your skin, you incorporate these chemicals into your system. There are a number of known consequences to exposure to these chemicals. One of the more dangerous chemicals is diethyl phthalate (DEP), which causes a variety of problems. The most notable to date being reproductive abnormalities of children born to either mothers who were exposed to DEP during pregnancy or infants exposed through IV fluids and medicines after birth. DEP has been banned in Europe and more recently in California. It is a common ingredient in many synthetic products, including perfumes, fragrances and body care products. DEP is also widely used as an adulterant and 'stretcher' of essentials oils. Because it is used as an adulterant, you would not find it on the label.

Additionally, most of the aromatherapy products found in mainstream stores are based on fragrances. This includes air fresheners, candles, household cleaners, soaps and more. I'm sure you can guess that your typical car freshener is not made from essential oils! It is documented that the vast majority of air fresheners contain diethyl phthalate. Remember also that products labeled 'essential oil fragrances' will usually not contain any essential oils at all!

Aura Cacia products will NEVER contain any of these stretchers or adulterants.

Getting Stress Reducing Essential Oils into your Airspace

Stress is such a common problem during the Holidays. But you may be surprised to know how easy it is to get stress reducing essential oils into your airspace, regardless of where you might be. There are a variety of oils that can be used to reduce stress. They include; lavender, rose, jasmine, German chamomile, sandalwood and patchouli. But remember, any scent that speaks to you and brings about a sense of calm and relaxation can be beneficial.

There are many ways to diffuse oils into your environment. For instance, mustaches and beards are wonderful natural diffusers!! Cloth hair bands, pony tail holders, ribbons are also great for personal use. Electronic diffusers, candle diffusers, lamp rings, dropping oils onto cloth, pillows, carpets, area rugs, stuffed animals, and an Aura Cacia favorite, the car diffuser. Most diffusers are easy to use and each has certain advantages. For instance, electronic diffusers are a quick, easy and very effective means of getting oils into a big area. This being said, it's hard to beat a candle diffuser for creating warm, scented glow to any room. Just be sure to use a little water in a candle diffuser to prevent the oil from burning.

Using oils on rugs, pillows, and other cloth surfaces was mentioned earlier. Just be sure that the oils you are using won't stain the cloth. For instance, putting oils on silks, linens and heirlooms may not be the best idea. Surfaces that are fibrous or fuzzy (shag rugs, plush animals, fuzzy pillows, etc.) If you're not sure, put a drop of oil in an inconspicuous area. This way, if the oil does stain, it won't be noticeable. Some oils are naturally colored (German chamomile, blue cypress, citrus oils, etc.) so use extra care with these oils.

Don't forget other 'natural' diffusers you may have around your home. Consider collecting or purchasing unscented pinecones. Drop or spray essential oils onto your Christmas tree (branches, needles and water), wreaths, garland and flock. You can also use your candles as scent diffusers. Before lighting, drop a couple drops of oil into the candle well (not too much) and light the wick. The heat from the flame and the hot wax will diffuse the oil.

The Stress of Shopping, Traveling and Entertaining

Some of us love the holidays and can't wait for them to arrive. Some us dread the season and just want to get through it in once piece. Whatever category you fit into, aromatherapy can be an essential component to your well being.

Shopping

The retail environment can be stressful for anyone regardless if you're working in one or shopping in one. Here are a couple of ideas sure to help. Open a bottle of a cheering oil like sweet orange, peppermint, grapefruit, or Candy Cane. Or try a calming oil like lavender or vanilla. Discreetly sprinkle several drops at your feet. The essential oils will volatize upward for all to smell.

If you're working in a retail setting (and management allows it), spray the air with some of the scents above or purchase an electronic diffuser to help scent the store. You'll soon see those big mean Grinches turn into the sweetest little Cindy Lou Who's.

Traveling

Holiday travel doesn't have to be stressful if you plan ahead and take a few simple precautions. Arming yourself with a few key essential oils will make any form of travel a walk in the park.

Lavender should be a staple in anyone's car, purse, pocket, computer bag, etc. Lavender is the Swiss Army Knife of essential oils. It is useful in so many situations. It can be used as first aid for cuts, scrapes, burns, etc. But is also one of the most effective anti-bacterials available. Plus, it smells good and most people like the way it smells. Pair it with a Precious Essential like Rose, Vanilla or Sandalwood and you've got your ticket to ride.

Carrying Aura Cacia Essential Solutions blends such as Pep Talk and Grey Matter Batter for headaches and stress; Pillow Potion for restlessness and sleep, First Response for first aid are also easy solutions to travel problems.

If your traveling with kids, you know that anything that keeping them calm is imperative to a successful journey. The following 'concoctions' could be just the ticket:

Put 6 drops of Precious Essentials Rose Absolute in your hand—add 2 drops of lavender and rub under the child's nose, behind their ears, on their neck and shoulders and even through their hair. Both oils are calming, relaxing and can aid in focus and concentration.

Aura Cacia's new Candy Cane Blend is reminiscent of their favorite holiday flavor, plus this blend of oils is great for headaches and also aid in focus and concentration. Just waft the bottle under their nose, put a couple drops on a favorite stuffed animal or a tissue and then ask them to take several deep breaths while closing their eyes.

Another great way to get them to cool their jets is with a blend of lavender, lemon and Precious Essentials Vanilla. In the palm of your hand add 6 drops of PE Vanilla, 2 drops of lavender and two drops of lemon. It's calming, refreshing and can help them settle in and focus on reading, coloring, or other travel activities. Another kid favorite is a blend of equal parts vanilla and sweet orange. Smells like a cream sickle!

For those really fussy itty bitty's, take a drop or two of Precious Essentials German Chamomile onto your finger and rub it under their nose or drop it on their favorite stuffed animal for calming relief.

Another problem with traveling is that places, people and spaces don't always smell as good as they could. Try carrying a bottle of oil like Candy Cane, peppermint, lavender, lemon or orange or a spray bottle that you can add water and oils to is a great way to keep unpleasant odors at bay. Most people won't be offended by these additions to their environment as they may be with fragranced sprays or perfumes.

If you're taking essential oils onto the plane with you, be sure you put them in your little plastic baggie for the security folks.

Entertaining

Scenting the airspace with festive holiday scents is a great way to get everyone in the spirit of the season. Use some of the diffusion ideas mentioned above with essential oils of peppermint, pine, cinnamon, fir, cardamom, orange and clove.

More Great Ideas

A great combination of oils for reducing stress on a daily basis is Lavender and Rose. The Precious Essentials Rose Otto is an excellent base because it's already blended in jojoba oil. Add a drop of lavender to two or three drops of rose, inhale deeply through your nose and rub the remainder on your temples, neck, wrists and even through your hair.

Holiday Health and Essential Oils

Holidays offer the perfect conditions to catch the cold and flu. Cold weather, germs floating around, and stress are all factors in folks getting sick this time of year. Here are some key essential oils to help us get well or stay well.

Lavender, eucalyptus, frankincense and sandalwood are important single essential oils to have in your medicine cabinet.

Lavender is a highly antimicrobial essential oil. As mentioned above, it is excellent for most first aid applications. Most can tolerate it right out of the bottle or 'neat'. When in doubt, blend it with a Precious Essential line like Frankincense or Sandalwood or a carrier oil such as jojoba. These oils are also relaxing and when used together can be quite beneficial.

Sandalwood is one of the best anti-fungal essential oils available. It is clinically proven to effectively treat fungi like toenail fungus, athlete's foot and candida. It as also been clinically proven to stop the replication of the herpes virus I and II. Sandalwood can also be used 'neat', can be found in Aura Cacia's Precious Essentials line, can be blended with other Precious Essentials or with other carriers such as jojoba.

Frankincense is not only an excellent analgesic and anti-inflamatory, but aids in the relief of bronchial congestion. It can be used 'neat' or from Aura Cacia's Precious Essentials Oil. It is helpful in relieving anxiety as well.

Eucalyptus is a powerful oil for relieving nasal, sinus and bronchial congestion. Blend this oil with Aura Cacia's unscented massage blend and rub on the chest. Add some lavender to calm and relax.

Medieval Mix in the Essential Solutions line is also a power defense in the war against germs. Based on a formulation commonly used during the time of the plague, this blend of oils not only smells great, but is a highly effective antimicrobial. It kill germs on surfaces and in the airspace. Use it straight in a diffuser or add 50 to 75 drops to 3 or 4 ounces of oil in a spray bottle and spray both on surfaces and in the airspace to kill germs.

A good oral antibacterial preparation includes 2 drops of peppermint (menthol is a good antibacterial), 1 drop of myrrh, and 1 drop of tea tree. Mix this blend in a little water or preferably some milk, soymilk or rice milk and then swish them around your throat and mouth for as long as possible to kill germs and freshen the breath.

Soothing Muscles and Relaxing with Essential Oils

Many holiday activities can produce sore and fatigued muscles. And, believe it or not, stress and anxiety are also key factors in producing aching muscles and joints. Here are some blends and ideas to soothe 'stressed out' joints, muscles and minds.

If you have access to a steam room or sauna, a 10-minute session with a few drops of essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint or wintergreen in on your towel or the floor are quite soothing and relaxing and may help reduce or relieve cold and flu symptoms. Putting a few drops of these oils on the floor of a hot shower stall also works well.

To a hottub or bath, try adding the following blend:

6 drops lavender
4 drops eucalyptus
2 drop peppermint
2 drops wintergreen
2 drops clove

30 drops Precious Essential oil of your choice (Roman or German chamomile, frankincense, sandalwood or rose would be excellent choices) or 2 ounces carrier (jojoba, almond, avocado, etc.)

or

12 drops Precious Essentials German chamomile
3 drops wintergreen
2 drops clove
3 drops lavender

A simple stress blend would be:

5 drops of Precious Essential Rose Otto
5 drops of Precious Essential Jasmine

To this you can also add a variety of oils. For instance, 2 drops of lavender, or 1 drop of sandalwood, or 1 drop of vanilla, or 1 drop of neroli, all, or in part.

The above formula's also works wonders as a body massage using Aura Cacia's Unscented Massage Cream or as a foot and leg massage using the Aura Cacia Unscented Body Polish.

If you don't like messing around with lots of different oils, try using Aura Cacia's Pep Talk or Grey Matter Batter with a carrier oil or Precious Essential as noted above.

Also the best time to apply essential oils essential oil blends is just out of the shower, sauna, bath, etc. — the skin will be warm and moist, with the pores open and ready to absorb essential oils into the system.

Before putting on your socks to venture out for a day of shopping, try this easy and quick massage formula:

A two-finger scoop of carrier oil or Aura Cacia Massage Cream in the palm of your hand

3 drops of candy cane
2 drops of orange
1 drop of clove
1 drop of wintergreen

When you get back home, do the same but substitute the massage cream for the Aura Cacia Body Polish.

A luxurious soak in a tub or shower is one of the best ways to sooth the muscles and the spirit during the holiday season. Try adding 10 to 20 drops (or more if you like) of Aura Cacia's Precious Essential oils like rose, vanilla, jasmine or frankincense to the bath or shower. Blend one of these oils with peppermint or eucalyptus for a spirit-lifting experience.

The opposite of the relaxing part are the oils you can use to stimulate and improve mental clarity. For stimulation, peppermint is definitely winner. Add 20 drops to 4 ounces of water and spray it on your face (close your eyes), neck and arms when fatigued. It's especially helpful in a car diffuser or simply dropped onto the floor boards. Lemon is another great pick-me-up and clary sage can produce a sense of euphoria. All are excellent when you are run down, tired and slightly depressed, or overwhelmed.

Diluting Essential Oils

No discussion of essential oils is complete without discussing dilution. Some oils can cause burning and/or irritation to the skin if used directly in large enough amounts. Other oils are relatively safe in small amounts used directly on the skin. The safest course is to always dilute your oils with a carrier oil. Our preferred carrier oil is jojoba. It never goes rancid, it doesn't promote bacteria and it's nearly identical to the sebum of the skin so it is absorbed quite well. Other oils to consider include sesame, avocado, almond, grapeseed, olive, etc.

Precious Essentials — Aura Cacia offers a line of oils that are pre-blended in jojoba. These oils are also excellent alternatives to the carriers. As mentioned above, they can be used by themselves directly out of the bottle.

Dilution is based on the following percentages:

2% dilution is approximately 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

This dilution ratio is relatively safe for most essential oils. There are, however, some oils that are quite irritating and should be given special attention and would require a dilution of no less than 1% (10 drops per ounce). Whenever in doubt, always error on the side of precaution — and dilute extra for children and the elderly.

This chart provides guidance on the recommended dilutions of oils in different applications:

  
Adult
Child/Elderly
Tub Bath
6 to 20 drops in tub
2 to 10 drops in tub
Hand or Foot Bath
5 to 10 drops/cup of water
1 to 3 drops/cup of water
Massage
10 to 15 drops/oz. carrier oil
5 to 8 drops/oz. carrier oil
Body Mist
12 drops/cup of water
Same
Room Spray
30 to 50 drops/cup of water
Same
Compress
6 to 10 drops/cup of water
3 drops/cup of water
Inhalant
3-5 drops on tissue or in a bowl of water
1-3 drops on tissue or in a bowl of water

Considering the Sexes

When making a blend with a man or a woman in mind, consider the following: men tend to like the more spicy oils, women generally like more floral scents. Vanilla is universally loved, cardamom is a wonderful spicy smell, clove is nice when diffused, and men generally like the scent of citrus.