A year ago I had no idea what essential oils were. I didn’t realize at the time that my Glade air freshener and my reed diffusers technically used essential oils; it sounded like a term that only holistic nutritionist and woo-woo ambassadors used.
Then I went through my spiritual transformation and started looking into natural ways to elevate myself from within. I bought my first essential oil and distinctly remember texting a friend saying, “I just spend $30 on a scented oil to help me feel calmer, does that mean I have hit a new low?!”
Surprise! The oil made me calmer (a lot more relaxed, actually). The oil that I chose was a beautiful combination of rosewood, cardamom, and lavender. It turned into an important item in my purse no matter which bag I was carrying or where I was going.
I started using it at work when I felt tense by putting it on my wrists and gently breathing in. I used it before meditation to ground myself into the moment. I took it to yoga classes. I brought it on airplanes. I gave it out on trips with friends and savored everyone loving the scent enough to want to buy their own. I still use it for breathwork during my workshops.
All of this was the result of one essential oil bottle and happened before I even knew all the facts about essential oils. The benefits I felt first hand made me curious, and I went on to learn more about what all the hype was about.
What are essential oils?
They’re natural oils (liquids) found in various parts of plants (i.e., seeds, bark, stems, roots, and flowers). The oil is extracted from plants for a variety of different physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.
What are essential oils for?
There are many unique benefits to using essential oils. There is truly a world of possibility in the way you can use oils, combine oils, and elevate your life using something as simple as a scent. No matter what your situation is—there’s literally an oil for that.
Are you feeling stressed? There’s an oil for that. Want to cleanse your house without harmful chemicals? There’s an oil for that. Need help falling asleep? There’s an oil for that.
It’s all about zeroing in on what you’re looking for and talking to a professional on what’s best for your specific needs. Not every oil is for everyone, and that’s why—to me—it’s so much easier to believe in the products because they are customized to you versus a trend you’re joining.
It isn’t just for holistic practitioners or woo-woo ambassadors; oils are for everyone. Chances are you’ve already encountered oils in a yoga class, a spa, or friend’s house without even realizing it. Essential oils are a natural and straightforward way to balance different aspects of your life.
These are just a few examples of various benefits you can discover by using different essential oils in your daily routine: Soothing, digestion, immunity, breathing, relaxation, clarity, focus, rejuvenation, motivation, cleaning the house, cleansing the air, muscle/joint support, headache relief, nurturing your soul, and so much more.
The reason people are turning toward essential oils more today is that, as a society, we’re becoming more conscious consumers. Many are reading the labels and looking for more natural approaches to their wellbeing. While that may not resonate with everyone, essential oils are an accessible introduction to using natural products for self-care and rejuvenation.
How can you use essential oils?
“The scent of an essential oil reaches the brain within seconds and activates the hypothalamus, the hormonal control center. It then releases hormones essential for our wellbeing,” says best-selling author Milana Perepyolkina.
This is one of the most common ways to use essential oils. When you want to introduce a particular emotion or quality into a space, that’s a good moment to use essential oils in an aromatherapy diffuser. It’s super simple to use and only takes a few drops (mixed with water)!
Another way to use essential oils aromatically is by simply smelling the cap when you open the bottle. This is especially good if you’re in need of a quick lift for motivation or a burst of something for relaxation.
Apply oils directly to the skin. Make sure you read the instructions because some oils are potent and require being diluted before being applied to the skin. You can dilute essential oils by using a carrier oil (i.e., coconut oil or even unscented body lotion).
I prefer using a rollerball for topical scents so that my hands don’t get oily. However, I have to admit that giving yourself a shoulder or foot massage by using a few drops on your hand feels like self-care at its finest (especially using lavender oil before bed).
The above ways are most common, but there are many ways you can use essential oils. Other methods include putting them in candles, weight loss, massages, adding to cleaning supplies or laundry products, and spicing up your bath. You may also hear that essential oils are used or cooking or adding to your cup of water—please do your research before doing so as ingesting essential oils is not recommended by most health professionals.
What essential oils should you get first?
After learning more about the benefits of essential oils, I started to buy more that resonated with me and that parts of my life I wanted to elevate. On any typical day, I’ll use lavender (for sleep), lemon (for energy), and a handful of mixed/proprietary blends for motivation, stress relief, and seasonal effects.
Which ones should you try to get started? Cassandra Hill, certified wellness coach, provided these scents to get you on your way.
Rosemary stimulates the nervous system while increasing the circulation to the brain. This phenomenon will improve memory and concentration.
Lavender is extremely soothing acting as a sedative. Lavender can tackle feelings of irritability while working as an analgesic (pain relief).
Basil serves as a mental stimulant and an antibacterial. This essential oil can be diffused with many oils such as lemon or hyssop.
Lemon rejuvenates the mind while offering many other benefits. Lemon is great for colds, indigestion, and headaches among many other conditions.
Peppermint will offer mental clarity and help in addressing feelings of depression. Peppermint can be diffused or massaged into the skin, diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba.
Frankincense is one of the best oils because it can be used for so many purposes. Frankincense acts as a sedative which will promote sleep and aid in skin renewal.
Rose is used to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Rose is known for its pleasant aroma; however, its benefits surpass smelling great. Rose essential oil can stimulate the mind and act as an antiseptic.
Ylang Ylang will increase relaxation taking away feelings of anxiety or depression. Ylang-ylang is a sedative and combines great with Roman chamomile making the perfect blend to diffuse at the end of the day.
Speaking of Roman Chamomile… that scent is recommended by Amanda Lasater, sleep expert. Why? Lasaster notes that “This essential oil has been proven to promote calmness and drowsiness, helping you feel ready for a great night's sleep. It also promotes heart health, fights anxiety and depression, and can relieve allergy symptoms.”
Need a wake-up call? Jenn Oldham, wellness advocate, recommends wild orange. Her suggestion is to “add a drop of wild orange and a drop of peppermint onto the palm of your hands and rub together. Cup your hands over your nose and inhale. Your mood will be instantly brightened!”
There are more than 90 common essential oils, so be patient with yourself as you find the ones that work for you and your lifestyle. You don’t have to be spiritual to use essential oils; you just have to be curious or looking to elevate your life in a natural way. Of course, oils definitely do aid in a variety of spiritual practices, like meditation and energy healing, because they help clear your mind and bring you into the present moment. Discern what you’re looking for in your life and use the oils that resonate with you. Stop and smell the rose oil, or whatever smells good to you. I hope you find the oil you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a burst of self-confidence and a chance to get grounded, Circuit of Change’s director of wellness, Alyssa Rahul, supplied this oil blend you can make your own.
Heart-opening and grounding blend recipe:
Wild orange: Five drops
Ylang Ylang: Five drops
Frankincense: Five drops
Grapefruit: Five drops
Combine in a 10ml roller bottle (easily found on Amazon) and top with fractionated coconut oil (or any carrier oil). Apply over heart and pulse points.
Wild orange: Uplifts mood and increases feelings of energy.
Ylang Ylang: Alleviates stress, nourishes positive emotions such as confidence, self-love, and spiritual awareness.
Frankincense: High vibrational aroma, used for prayer and meditation, calming, helps to let go of emotional issues and stay present.
Grapefruit: Helps balance mood, restore a connection to our feelings, energizes, cleanses and purifies the body.