Back to School with Essential Oils: Nine Oils that Support Well Being and Help Ease Tension
School can be stressful for kids and adults for all sorts of reasons. Homework, tests, projects, presentations, making friends, learning challenges, transitions, and changes. Learning how to cope with all this is an important part of navigating your way through life. While there's a lot more to dealing with feelings of stress or tension than adding a drop or two of essential oils, they can offer emotional support and help soothe and calm when the pressure builds. In addition to things exercise, good nutrition, adequate rest, and being able to talk and express feelings of frustration and formulate plans to cope, essential oils can be a valuable resource to hand on hand.
There are many oils that are calming and can help soothe feelings of stress or tension. In this blog post we'll look at nine grounding and soothing essential oils that can help and suggestions on how to use them.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia): Bergamot comes from the peel of it's namesake fruit -- not one we typically find in U.S. markets, but if you've had Earl Grey tea you've experienced bergamot. Bergamot essential oil, like other citrus fruits, is high in d-limonene, known for it's uplifting and immune stimulating qualities. It also has a significant portion of the ester linalyl acetate and also contains linalol. These aromatic compounds, also found in lavender, are known for their calming and relaxing effects. Together these aromatic compounds make bergamot a valuable oil for wellbeing and emotional support. Bergamot works well in a diffuser, inhaler, or room spray. It is quite phototoxic (causes blistering or skin irritation when applied to skin that is exposed to UV radiation within 18 hours of application) so it's not ideal for topical application unless the area is covered.
Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana): The oil is derived from the wood of trees. There is more than one type of cedarwood oil and they vary in chemistry, so check the scientific name to get the one discussed here. Cedarwood is rich in sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols which are soothing and calming aromatic compounds. Cedarwood can be diffused, used in an inhaler, or used topically in lotion or carrier oil or in a bath. It has a woodsy, outdoorsy aroma that works well with both floral and citrus oils.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Both are very soothing and calming oils that should not be confused with Moroccan Chamomile (Ormenis multicaulis). Roman Chamomile has an apple-like, floral aroma and is rich in soothing esters. German Chamomile's relaxing properties come from sesquiterpene and oxides and it has a strong, sweet, herbal scent that can overpower other oils. Both are wonderful to use topically or in a bath. Both are also useful for easing soreness and aches.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi): Rich in d-limonene grapefruit essential oil is uplifting and a wonderful tonic. Orange (Citrus sinensis) and lemon (Citrus limon) are good substitutions. It works well in a diffuser or room spray along with other citrus oils to create a sunshiny blend. Grapefruit has a distinctive smell from nootkatone along with aromas of citrus and sweet. Grapefruit and lemon oils are phototoxic but can be used in topical wash off products or in reasonable amounts (less than: 12 drops/lemon per ounce, less than 24 drops grapefruit/ounce). Sweet orange is not typically phototoxic (bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) is) so check the name and bottle for safety information. Most kids and adults love the aroma citrus oils.
Lavender (Lavendula angustafolia): Tried and true lavender calms, soothes, and nurtures. Lavender is fresh, light, and floral. It works well topically, in a bath, diffuser, inhaler, or room spray. It is known as a CNS sedative and a tonic to the body. It contains both linalool and linalyl acetate, aromatic compounds that are relaxing to the body and also support the immune system. Lavender can help with headaches and to soothe muscle tension that often accompanies stress.
Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides or Vetiveria zizanioides): Distilled from the roots of grass, vetiver is known to be deeply grounding and calming. It's scent is strong, earthy, musty, and rich and not everyone likes it. It's a very thick oil that's difficult to diffuse alone. It works well in lotions, oils, or baths. Since it's strong I like to hide it among sweeter oils such as orange or pair it with cedarwood to get the therapeutic benefits with a milder aroma. This oil is deeply relaxing and wonderful for dealing with tension and feelings of stress. Like cedarwood, vetiver is rich in soothing sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols.
Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata): Strong, sweet, and floral ylang-ylang is rich in calming esters and sesquiterpenes. Derived from beautiful flowers, this is an oil to use in small amounts -- a drop will do. In larger amounts it can give one a headache. Add a drop to a bath or to lotion or carrier oil. Deeply calming and relaxing, ylang-ylang essential oil can ease tension and calm the mind and emotions.
Using essential oils for well being:
Diffusing can help before or after school. Personal inhalers can be useful for school or for kids to have at their disposal during study time at home. The oils above can be added to a diffuser (3-4 drops is what I like to use) or inhaler (10 -15 drops per inhaler is good). Just be careful with oils such as vetiver and ylang-ylang as they tend to be strong. A good tip is to smell caps together or use smell strips to see if you like a particular combination before blending. Adding a bit more orange , other citrus, or lavender to a diffuser can often help enhance or soften the aroma. If inhalers are not allowed at school an aromatherapy bracelet or necklace may help. Or a hand cleaner or lotion with soothing oils.
Topical applications include mixing oils into a lotion or carrier oil and massaging onto the back of the neck, temples, or even a hand massage. The combination of essential oils and touch can be very soothing. Adding oils to a bath is also helpful. Aim for 3-5 drops per bath and disperse in a teaspoon of
carrier oil or use in bath salts or bath fizzes.
Essential oils can help support and calm emotions, ease tension, and help kids as they return to school. These same oils can also be useful for parents as they help their kids navigate through the stress of the school year.
If you have questions about essential oils or would like to know how to use them to support kids going back to school contact Tricia.