Essential Oils for Holiday Stress

Dec 18, 04:26 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are problematic for many people, and this year we have the added stress of the economy darkening our holiday cheer. I could write a book on aromatherapy for holiday stress, but I'll keep this post short and sweet by highlighting just a few of my favorite oils:

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) - The number one essential oil for the nervous system, bergamot is very calming and soothing. It works well for stress-related skin conditions such as acne and eczema, and is excellent for general stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. If you live in a northern climate and are prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this is a terrific EO for room diffusion. Applications: bath, inhalation, room diffusion, diluted topical. Contraindications: highly phototoxic. If this is a concern for you, please use bergapten-free bergamot, which will not cause a phototoxic skin reaction, but will have a less sedative effect than unrectified bergamot essential oil (Aromaceuticals sells both varieties).

Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) - A highly versatile oil, lavender helps relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is useful for dull aches and pains (like the headache you get from annual holiday exposure to your Aunt Martha), and skin conditions such as fever blisters, burns, and dehydration. This is a must for airline travel and outdoor winter activities, which both tend to strip moisture from the skin. Applications: bath, inhalation, room diffusion, diluted topical, hot compresses.

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) - Highly analgesic, chamomile brings headache relief and calms menstrual cramps. This oil is excellent for nervous digestion, irritable colon and constipation. It has strong action against insomnia and hyperactivity, and is gentle enough to use on overexcited children who can't sleep on Christmas Eve. Applications: bath, inhalation, room diffusion, diluted topical, hot compresses.

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) - Like all citruses, orange is very refreshing and uplifting to the spirit, so it is helpful for anxiety, depression and SAD. It soothes the smooth muscle of the digestive tract, and will aid nervous digestion, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. A great oil for those who've overindulged at the holiday dinner table. Applications: inhalation, room diffusion, diluted topical. Contraindications: can be very mildly phototoxic.

Vetivert (Vetiveria zizanoides) - Long known as the "oil of peace and tranquility", vetivert promotes deep feelings of relaxation and calm. In addition to helping depression, it is good for exhaustion, nervous tics, and insomnia. Vetivert is a wonderful meditation oil for those who need some holiday quiet time away from noisy kids or visiting relatives. Applications: bath, inhalation, diluted topical.

Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) - This exotic-smelling oil has a strong cooing action on anger and frustration. Ylang ylang has an almost narcotic effect that makes it ideal for easing anxiety, depression and stress. Applications: bath, inhalation, room diffusion, diluted topical. Caution: Overexposure may cause nausea in some individuals.

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