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And Good Times Were Had By All: Using Aromatherapy To Bring Good Cheer
Another beautiful holiday season is upon us, and this time we'd like to do a little something different. A different decor, a different meal, maybe a whole different attitude...What simple thing can one do to make the season special? Bring a little extra cheer to the family? Perhaps even sneak it in to the festivities so they don't even know it's happening, but they're a little happier and healthier? A naturopath's suggestion: consider aromatherapy. With the chaos of shopping, cooking, cleaning and visiting family, bringing an uplifting, warming atmosphere to your home with the touch of lovely aromas can really make a difference. And pure, real essential oils are a truly effective way to do this - natural aromatics can have a profoundly positive effect on our spirits and the spirits of those around us.
Folks have used essential oils and natural aromatics to brighten their surroundings and lift their moods for many, many years. And over the last decade, scientific studies have shown the simple inhalation of essential oils to have measurable positive effects on our health. Like you'd expect from the happy and calm feelings they can bring about, essential oils have been noted to lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormone levels and improve the quality of rest. The use of essential oils as anti-depressants is on the rise, as more people are using nature's pure perfumes to bring smiles to their faces. There may be no better time to use these wonderful natural tools in your own home.
Getting started with aromatherapy is a very simple process - you'll need just a bottle of essential oil (single or blended - we'll get to some suggestions in a moment) and a means to diffuse the aroma into your living space. There's often an incredible variety of aromas from which to chose, even at your local market, and even more so via mail-order. Essential oil diffusers are often found at the same stores, with a wide selection of prices and style to suit your needs.
Diffusing essential oils, which really means evaporating them from their oil state into the air around you, can be done in a number of ways. The least complex of all might be making your own potpourri, adding several drops of oils to the bowl or basket. Other folks add a few drops of oil to pinecones and place them about the house. Using this diffusion method, you may want to mix a small amount of a vegetable oil with the essential oil, as to slow the oil's evaporation rate, and lengthen the time you'll be enjoying the aromas. Basic electric units are available which perform a similar task. A little more complex and professional are the ultrasonic humidifying nebulizers - essentially a small humidifyer which makes a mist of both oil and water. Then there are the high-end units of nebulizing diffusers which make a mist of the essential oils to get higher concentrations into larger areas. ANY of these will work for making your home smell lovely for the holidays; if you think you may want to pursue aromatherapy in the future, you may consider investing in a nebulizer-style diffuser, as they generally have a more broad range of therapeutic possibilities.
And now for the fun part - the essential oils. There are SO many to choose from, and you may start by just browsing sites on the internet which will often have listings of over a hundred oils available. An excellent place to start is with the truly 'seasonal' evergreen aromas. Perhaps the most popular are the 'needle' oils, distilled from the needles and twigs of evergreen trees. One of the many species of Fir may be tbe most often used, as their aromas are at once warm, complex and inviting. Black Spruce is another favorite, much for the same reason - their sweetness is quite uplifting, and their complexity keeps us interested. Juniper berry, while not strictly a 'needle' oil is also wonderfully bright and uplifting. While some find it a bit strong on its own, it blends very well with other essential oils distilled from evergreens.
If you're wishing to bring a little more exotic scents into your home, the oils of Frankincense, Myrrh and Sandalwood are perfect choices - aromas that have been used extensively for both their psychological and physiological health benefits for ages. These tend to be more earthy and grounding than the evergreen oils, perhaps a little more calming - exactly what many homes are in need of right about now. Frankincense is both bright and earthy at the same time, with its citrus and woody notes. Myrrh is more hypnotic and mysterious, useful in small amounts. Sandalwood is a classic favorite with both sweet and woody notes, with lovely varieties coming from India, Australia and the South Pacific. These oils can be blended together, or added in small amounts to one or more of the evergreen oils for a pleasant combination.
If you really want to get creative, there are many brilliant aromatics from which to choose. Lavender is well-known for its calming scent; citrus oils like Bergamot, Orange and Grapefruit are lively can easily brighten your space. Spice oils can be added to blends or used on their own in small amounts (they can be potent, and should be used cautiously)...these include Cinnamon, Clove, Peppermint, Cardamom and the like. If you're not familiar with blending, try using these oils singly, or in combinations of two or three at most. Or get enough to make small batches to test your formula, then a just as your nose desires.
Just a little essential oil can bring a new kind of cheer to you and your family this season. One small bottle is often enough to scent your home for several days - more potent oils will last even longer. A little pure essential oil goes a long way; it's always better to get a little hint of aroma than to be overwhelmed by it, so start slowly if this is your first time. The effects of aromatherapy may surprise you; maybe enough to get you hooked and keep you smiling through the rest of the winter.
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