Archives for posts with tag: healthy living

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.

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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!

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One of the things I’ve come to realise over the last year or so is that most of us carry a massive amount of guilt over the idea of self-care.  I’m not just talking about putting on make up or a nice outfit – I’m talking about taking the time out to really care for ourselves.  Mothers seem to find it particularly difficult to justify time to themselves, and even if they do take some time, it can be hard to go with the flow. The things I hear people saying are “I can’t switch off”, “my mind is always so busy” and “I find it really hard to relax”.  When we carry around this much busy-ness, when we don’t give our bodies and minds the time to unwind and unload, the result is tension – in our bodies and our minds! Which just adds to the sense of busy-ness and stress… it’s a cycle.

When we do yoga, whether it’s on the mat, or in day to day life, we give ourselves permission to focus on ourselves, even just for five minutes.  I love the moment when I get to my mat, make myself sit still and take a really deep breath – that moment is my self-care, when I’m reminded that by taking those few minutes to nurture myself and my body, I’m recharging and can go and be Mum/Wife/Friend again.  I love that if I don’t focus on what I’m doing on the mat, I will quite literally fall over!  It leaves no space to let my mind wander or race or think about my to do list.  And those five minutes of me-time create a whole load of new, fresh energy for being Mum again.  Five minutes to recharge – take a deep breath and see what happens…