Archives for category: self care

Essential oils have been used for centuries for their therapeutic qualities and aromas.  They can be used in many ways around the home, but it is important to always follow any safety advice on the label.  Some oils should be avoided completely during pregnancy, others such as citrus oils can cause skin sensitivity/photosensitivity and should not be applied directly to the skin.  Follow the instructions, and if in doubt consult an aromatherapist for advice. Essential oils should never be ingested so keep out of reach of children.

Anyone who has had a chat with me about aromatherapy will have heard me harp on about the benefits of Rosemary essential oil.  One of the things I love the most about it is that you don’t really have to purchase a bottle of the oil in order to reap the benefits – perhaps you or someone you know already has it growing in a pot or in the garden.

Rosemary happily growing in my garden.

Simply rub your hands over its leaves or pick a small sprig and you can get many of the benefits.  It is a potent oil, and should only be used in small amounts, but since it is such a clear and powerful aroma you probably won’t be tempted to overuse it!  Rosemary should be avoided completely in pregnancy (and, I would argue, when you are trying to conceive), and also if you have a history of high blood pressure.

So what to use it for?  My personal favourite use is for clearing my mind and helping me stay alert.  There have been some studies into it’s uses for memory, and my own experience is that it gives me a mental boost when I’m revising or studying for exams.  I’ve also recommended it for clients who regularly work nights shifts as a gentle boost when that 3am slump hits (although I used to experience that as soon as my shift started…)  I actually don’t use the oil directly for this purpose – I rub my hands over a sprig of rosemary and deeply inhale.  Careful though, there’s a chance that it could also remind you of roast dinner!  If you have an aromastone or an oil burner you could try burning a drop, perhaps combined with two drops of marjoram and a couple of drops of lavender – very relaxing but also revitalising.

Another popular use is for relieving the symptoms of cold and flu.  One drop of rosemary added to a steam inhalation (hot water in a bowl, cover head with towel, lean over bowl, breathe in) can be really helpful in relieving congestion and painful sinuses.  Blending it with a drop each of peppermint and eucalyptus makes an even more effective sinus reliever.  It was once used in hospitals in Europe to help cleanse the air, and I can tell why, it definitely has a “clean” smell.  One drop of rosemary and one of eucalyptus used in  vaporiser or oil burner also recreates the smell of a Turkish Spa – bliss.

If you do happen to have your own plant – and it’s well worth getting one – you also have the advantage of being able to add the fresh herb to your meals.  Delicious with chicken and tomato pasta, and way better than the bottles of dried herbs available at the supermarkets.

Advertisements

I’ve been battling a few internal demons this last week – stuff from a LONG time ago that when triggered feels as raw as yesterday. This stuff has the potential to do some serious damage to my relationships and self-esteem, causes me panic attacks and periods of self-doubt and anxiety – so I consider it a priority to not shy away, but instead shine a light on, and bring awareness to what is going on inside.

As an ex mental health professional, I’ve been guilty of analysing this to death, and in some ways that has been useful – I think I have a pretty clear understanding of what happened and why I react to certain situations in particular ways. But I never quite managed to make the next step, into letting go. And that’s kind of the point really isn’t it? Work through it and let go. 

Just lately though, something seems to be shifting. As worries or stressful events have appeared on the horizon, my close family have been saying “Moll, go and do yoga”. Like I need any encouragement! But seriously, this yoga thing is helping – and my family and friends are noticing. Maybe it’s the breathing – I’m using it off the mat whenever I feel anxiety or stress building.  Maybe it’s the deep stretching which helps to release long-stored away emotions and tension. Whatever – it’s unexpectedly helping me through a process of letting go of old memories and subconscious emotions.  Just for once, I can’t really explain why.  And I think I’m realising – maybe I don’t need to. 


My three best tips for managing that anxiety moment: 

  • Alternate nostril breathing – hold down your left nostril with your right ring finger. Take a deep breath in through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with the thumb of your left hand and gently hold the air in briefly – then release your left nostril and let all the air out. Take a deep breath in on the left side, close off and hold briefly, then release the right nostril and let it all out. Repeat as many times as you like, best done in private if you want to avoid funny looks.
  • Be here, now. Reminding myself of the present moment is one of the most powerful tools that I use for relieving anxiety. Anxiety is a worry about the future – and the future never comes, it’s an imaginary idea! I use various approaches, one is to check in with my breath and body – where  am I right now? This helps my mind calm as I realise I’m not under any threat at this present moment, and slows my heartbeat. Our physical reactions to anxiety (rapid heartbeat, sweaty hands, shallow breathing) can feel as scary as the anxiety trigger itself, and spiral an even bigger stress response, so using this technique can be helpful in breaking that cycle.
  • Pigeon pose, childs pose, savasana. Pigeon pose should only be done with guidance from a yoga instructor, but childs pose and savasana need no instruction. Breath deep, calm your mind, and let go.

So after several requests/chats with people over the last few weeks, I thought I would do a post on the demon of modern life, stress.  I’ve been stressed, lived it, worked it, lost sleep because of it.  I was, quite honestly, rubbish at managing it, until I changed my career and simultaneously discovered yoga.  We are all forever on the search for answers about how to manage it, and there are a million and one websites, businesses, books out there on how to deal with it, but my basic go-to is this one:  Legs Up the Wall Pose. Five minutes in this pose, along with some deep breaths is amazing for calming, de-stressing and best of all providing a nice little boost of energy.  As a stay-at-home-mum I’ve often had those days (usually after a sleep-deprived night) where I’ve wondered how I’ll make it through to (my daughter’s) bedtime.  This works every time, and best of all Leela likes to join in!

I’m not a yoga teacher, so I’ll just show you a picture of what I do, but a quick internet search will give you a step-by-step guide. (sit next to wall, lie on floor with bum next to wall, raise legs up, breathe deep!).  Aaahhh!

Featured image