By Diane Small
As fall moves into full swing and beautiful colours abound, we may want to try to forget that winter will soon be upon us. While winter is usually associated with family, celebration, and lots of eating, it is also a time of increased sadness. Commonly known as “winter blues,” our biological clocks are disrupted as the days become shorter.
This disruption is characterised by feelings of irritability as we long for bright, sunny days. However, this irritability has the capacity to transition into mild to severe depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, due to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain. Winter blues may also negatively impact our productivity thanks to symptoms such as inconsistent sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, a change in appetite which can lead to weight gain, loss of libido, fatigue, and a drop in energy levels.
If these symptoms are not addressed, it could lead to a situation where we’re completely out of sync with our natural schedules, and it can make winter the most draining time of the year. But luckily, there’s a way to beat the winter blues: with aromatherapy.
The Importance of Aromatherapy
You may not realise it, but a lack of sunlight isn’t the only thing you’re missing in winter: the aroma of the great outdoors is vital to improving our well-being, and reminds us of the simple things we take for granted during spring and summer. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way all season long. Along with eating right, exercising, and exposing ourselves to light as much as possible, aromatherapy may be an answer to our winter problems.
With so many essential oils available on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out which ones are best equipped to combat the dreariness that is winter. Depending on what specific symptom you’d like to address, there a variety of oils that can be employed.
What’s Your Problem?
Feeling really blue? These should help bring back la vie en rose: basil, bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang.
Fatigue/lack of energy
Forget the coffee: if you need to pep up, inhale some rosemary, peppermint, lemon, basil, ginger, tea tree or cypress instead. It will revive each of your senses!
Of course the best way to solve this is to take a hot bath, but add cinnamon bark, cardamom seed, clove or ginger oil to the water and the feeling should continue for quite some time after you’ve dried off.
Let’s face it–winter is irritating! And not just for the mind–these oils, when diluted in a neutral oil base, can also help reduce skin irritation caused by central heating: chamomile, marjoram, clary sage and linden berry, celery seed and rose. Add a few drops to your regular skin cream too, and see how you get on.
Head all over the place? Inhale some sage, myrrh, or spruce oil whenever you feel in a cloud.
Overeating? Feeling bloated? Try bergamot, juniper, lavender and celery seed oil. Sniff a bit directly from the bottle whenever you feel like eating.
How to Use Aromatherapy Oils
It’s super easy to use aromatherapy. In order to reap the most benefits, it’s best to inhale the oils so they can directly interact with your limbic system. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, or a combination of a few, to bath salts, a bubble bath or a simple, relaxing hot bath. Aroma lamps and diffusers are another popular method of inhalation because you can relax in the comfort of your home and experience the aromas permeating through the air.
Just take several deep breaths, and visualise a warm beach or summer meadow–and you’ll be feeling a spring in your step before you know it. During the day, lighting an aromatherapy candle or oil diffuser can also help keep your mood up.
Some Brands to Try
This brand makes beautifully packaged oils for the bath or diffusers – all of them are excellent as a gift, or if you treat yourself, these are also ideal for putting in the shower. Just dab a few drops on the wall or shower floor, and the steam will lift the scent right up.
Neom makes wonderful, 100% pure oils, as well as gorgeous scented candles and diffusers – all of which avoid nasty chemicals and artificial fragrances, and yet still pack a powerful perfumed punch.
Loads of choice for pure aromatherapy oils. Dot these on light bulbs, on your heaters, or in a simmering pot of water to infuse your home with scent.