I hate all the recent hoop-la about essential oils.
Don’t get me wrong; I fiercely love essential oils. They are the fire element of our plant medicines, the spark, the passion, the pizazz.
And then there’s the mystery, the alchemy of it. The copper still and the curling glass tubing. It’s an art form: huge amounts of plant material distill down to the tiniest vial of liquid—I once watched 12 contractor-sized trash bags of spruce make only 4 oz. of essential oil.
The commodification of this ancient alchemical process, the loss of reverence for this mythical transformation, feels blasphemous.
Even those commercial formulas that have become so popular have ancient roots… and a series of stories behind them. During the Bubonic Plague years, perfumers remained disproportionately healthy due to their daily contact with the extremely powerful antimicrobials in the essential oils that were used in all perfumes.
Folks noticed this and when a band of thieves wanted to rob those who were dying from the plague, they soaked face masks in essential oils so they could enter the homes of the ill without getting sick themselves.
I keep this rich (and slightly morbid!) history in mind as I inventory my oils. These potent plant extracts are my first line of defense against whatever big ick blows in on the winter air.
Here’s my short list of ick-resistant oils. I just make them a part of my daily life this time of year:
- Lavender Spike
- Thyme Linalol
- Eucalyptus Radiata
- Palma Rosa
My favorite way to use them is to blend them together so that I can then use the blend in a variety of other essential oil recipes.
Room Spray: Mix 30 drops of the blend with a tablespoon of vodka. Shake well. Add this combination to 4 oz. of water and put in a spray bottle.
Hand Soap: Add 30 drops to a combination of 1 oz. glycerine and 3 oz. liquid castille soap. Shake well.
Cleaning solution: Add 30 drops to a 4 oz. combination of white vinegar and water.
Infuser/Nebulizer: For the highest therapeutic value, it’s best not to heat your oils. A cold air nebulizer is the best choice when you want to maintain the oils’ integrity and running a nebulizer is a great way to “clear the air.”
Inhalation: A few drops of oil will remain potent on a tissue that is then put in a ziplock bag. Put it over your nose and breathe!
Steam: Put one drop of oil in a bowl of just boiled water. Drape a towel over your head and breathe the steam.
So tell me, what oils will you be using this season?
This is the time of year when I often see clients spiral down the rabbit hole, drop their daily habits, and land in a state of either despair or bizarre holiday mania.
(You know those wild-eyed women running through HomeGoods, gathering up every last beeswax candle? Yeah. You so don’t want to be that person.)
So let’s start OM-ing now as a preventative measure.
As the days get darker, we naturally turn inward and become more introspective.
Add to that the mild depression of less sunlight, throw in a pinch of holiday stress and, suddenly, this can become a pretty unsettled time of the year.
Instead of dreading the darker days to come, think of this window before Thanksgiving as a time to realign and get into solid daily habits that support you, body and soul.
Get these habits for the darkest days going now so that guests, travels, and cooking for twenty don’t throw you off!
#1 Carve Out Time for Yourself
It doesn’t take much. A 20-minute tech-free zone, where you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself, is heaven. So on the way home from work or from the supermarket, stop at a park, turn off your phone, or go for a short walk.
(And let me know if you don’t feel better for it!)
#2 Remember to Breathe
First notice how often you hold your breath.
Yup, me too. It’s kind of shocking, all the breath-holding we do. You’d think we would have asphyxiated by now.
Okay, now for the remedy:
Actually make time to breathe.
Five minutes when you are lying in bed trying to convince yourself to wake up.
Another five minutes before you eat lunch.
(5 minutes is not that long, people! You can do this—it’s breathing, for heaven’s sake! It’s the first thing you did on the way in and the last thing you’ll do on the way out.)
#3 See the Sunrise
When you’re done lying in bed breathing, throw your coat over your jammies and go watch the sun rise.
A 7AM sunrise is one of the gifts of these longer nights—in the summer you can sleep ‘til seven or watch the sun come up. In the winter, you get to do both!
Andrew and I have gotten into the habit of standing in the street to watch the sun rise over the mountains (we have tall pines on the east side of our house, so there’s no view that way).
As the sun comes up, for just a few moments I feel myself as a part of the larger doings of this great big world and my own concerns get a little smaller.
#4 Check out Mama Moon
The moon reminds us of cycles.
The earth is on a cycle around the sun, too, but it’s a long haul around the galaxy. By the time we come back around, we lose the sense of cyclicality.
A moon cycle, however, is 28 days.
Every 28 days you get to start a new cycle: you get a do-over.
How cool is that?
#5 Don’t Forget the D
Scientists now tell us that D3 is a hormone, not a vitamin, and one in which we are almost all deficient. Because you get your D from the sun, the winter months mean diving D levels.
This is one to supplement; there are no herbs that are high in D.
I like a liquid D3 in an olive oil base so I can just mix it with my food.
#6 Sip Some Herbal Happiness
Sipping herbal teas in winter reminds me of summer, and gardens, and bumblebees.
Plus some herbs have chemical constituents that actually help the happy.
Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort, Milky Oats, Hibiscus, and/or Linden.
I got a gorgeous white tea call Ya Bao and I am already planning my winter mix: Ya Bao, Linden, and Milky Oats. With a smidge of honey, I’ll be tasting sunlight all winter long!
And we all want that, right?
Now it’s your turn: share your habits for staying aligned through these longest nights!