Calming essential oils are powerful. The remarkable properties of lavender, frankincense and many other distilled plant oils can hugely impact your mood and wellbeing.
One day I burned my hand with steam from the kettle. It wasn’t blistered or serious enough to need medical attention, but I was in quite a bit of pain. Running it under cold water helped a bit, but as soon as the skin dried it hurt again. Unsure what to do, I started googling how to soothe burns. I came across an article about lavender essential oil. Following the instructions, I applied lavender oil to my burn every fifteen minutes or so, until it stopped hurting. To my amazement, the pain was completely gone within less than an hour. The skin healed quickly with no redness. Nowadays I always keep a bottle of lavender essential oil in my kitchen drawer to treat minor burns[i].
Lavender is one of my favourite essential oils. It is safe, gentle and has wonderful calming and healing properties. The essential oil is steam distilled from freshly cut flowers. I love the clean, refreshing aroma which instantly soothes.
Lavender essential oil has sedative, anti-spasmodic, local anaesthetic, stress reducing and anti-microbial properties. For most people it is safe to use directly on the skin (unlike most essential oils) as it is non-irritating. Lavender is known as “the mother oil” because it is good for virtually everything. It is helpful for skin healing, immunity, headaches, period pains, anxiety, depression, insomnia and more[ii]. If you are feeling upset, lavender can make you feel better.
Cleansing and Calming a Room
I love the way lavender cleanses a space, physically and energetically. A couple of drops of lavender oil in a diffuser calms the atmosphere in a room, influencing everyone present. You might like to try diffusing lavender in your home and notice the subtle effects. Tensions will be reduced and everyone will feel more settled and relaxed. You can also mix a few drops of lavender oil with water in a spray bottle, shake it up, and use it as a natural deodorising room spray. So much healthier than commercial chemical air-fresheners! The antiseptic properties of lavender help to create a clean and healthy space. Lavender brings calm.
Promoting Restful Sleep
Lavender’s sleep-inducing properties are well known. Lavender oil contains Linalyl acetate and Linalool which are natural sedatives[iii]. A couple of drops of lavender oil on a tissue on your pillow can help you settle down for a good night’s sleep. I like to use eye pillows which contain dried lavender flowers to help enhance and deepen relaxation. You can also use lavender in your bath, adding 8 – 12 drops of essential oil to some full fat milk or to some unscented bubble bath before dispersing it into relaxing warm water. Avoid adding undiluted oils to a bath as they will not disperse well and might irritate your skin.
Lavender’s anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects make it a brilliant natural painkiller. For a headache, try adding a couple of drops to cloth wrung out in cold water, and placing this over your forehead. To make a massage oil you can add 12 to 20 drops of essential oil to two tablespoons of a safe base oil such as organic sunflower or grapeseed oil. This can then be rubbed into the skin to ease aches and pains or simply to help you feel calm and relaxed.
Perfumes and Memories
Not everyone likes lavender. Scents and memories and emotions are all processed in the same region of our brains, so they are intimately connected[iv]. If you had an unpleasant relative or mean teacher who liked to use lavender perfumed soap, you may hate the smell of lavender. You might not even remember the reason, but lavender invokes strong negative emotions in some people.
If you are not a fan of lavender, or if you would just like to try something else, frankincense is another wonderful calming essential oil. Distilled from the resin of an African tree, frankincense oil is brilliant for emotional healing, digestion, stress management, inflammation and pain reduction. Like lavender, it helps to heal damaged skin. It makes excellent anti-aging creams and serums.
Frankincense positively affects our hormones by increasing the production of calming biochemicals in the body. When we inhale frankincense or massage it into the skin we make more soothing endorphins. We also produce a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA) which works in the limbic area of the brain to create a feeling of bliss. Frankincense helps reduce the cortisol stress response and calms down chronic stress. It is an excellent oil to use for anxiety, fear and panic attacks[v].
Frankincense essential oil can be used in all the same ways as lavender. You can use it in a diffuser or a room spray, on a compress or in a bath. You should never take any essential oils internally in food or drink, and avoid using undiluted oils neat on the skin. Use small amounts – just a few drops at a time is plenty. Remember that these are strong, concentrated distillations. Less is more.
Other Oils to Try
Some other calming essential oils include rose, geranium and chamomile oils. These calming oils all blend well with citrus oils such as mandarin or bergamot for a cheering and uplifting effect.
Purchasing Essential Oils
Always buy essential oils from a reputable supplier. They should come in dark glass bottles, labelled with the Latin botanical name. Beware very cheap products, and anything labeled “fragrance”. These may be imitations based on petrochemicals which can be harmful to your health.
If you would like to purchase high quality essential oils from Neals Yard Remedies, you can do so here: https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/karenlawrence
Learn More about Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a massive and fascinating subject. There is so much to learn. If you would like to explore further, there are some great books available. You can also take courses. I would recommend Neals Yard Remedies as a good place to start to discover oils, books and information. You can see more about their current courses here. https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/course-categories/aromatherapy-courses/
Today’s Calming Activity – Aromatherapy Shower
I love using essential oils in the shower. If you have some lavender or frankincense essential oil, try putting two drops on a facecloth and using this to sponge yourself down in a long relaxing shower. You will feel cleansed, calm and refreshed.
Thanks for reading this blog post. I am writing a series of 31 blogs every day this August. I plan to publish them later in the year as a book entitled, ‘Finding Your Calm Space – 31 Ways to Find Calm in a Crazy World’.
I’m Karen. I am a Yoga teacher, Reflexologist and busy mum of seven. I live with my family in Billericay, Essex, UK. In the past I have worked as a Midwife, Health Visitor, Baby Signing teacher and Tax Inspector. I love getting outdoors, swimming in the sea, walking and writing. Helping people relax is one of the things I do best.
You can learn more about my Yoga classes and Reflexology at my website www.thecalmspace.co.uk