New year, new you with aromatherapy

Are you thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, you’re not alone. Each new year (and new decade) triggers a time of reflection and forward planning, of releasing the old and bringing in the new.

In the time between Christmas and the new year we reflect on the outgoing year’s highs and lows and create a fresh set of New Year’s resolutions. For some, these might be resolutions that we have resolved to fulfil the previous year without success; other resolutions are spontaneous new ideas. We start each year with strong intentions of making positive changes in our lives. However, while we ring and sing in the new year with these good intentions, the truth is that some of our resolutions go unfulfilled. This can be because we’ve made unrealistic plans that were impossible to achieve. We aim high, seeking perfection and then we beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve it.

To give yourself a decent chance at keeping your resolutions for 2020, try setting goals that are both achievable and meaningful to you. Don’t choose to do things just because your logical mind thinks you should do, or because of what you feel others want from you, or based on what you think society expects of you. It’s your wellbeing and happiness that is most important in this process. Set goals for your own needs and desires – others will take care of themselves.

Remember, if your resolutions and goals are not something you’re passionate about, you won’t have that motivation to keep your intentions or plans. It’s important to be clear on what you want to achieve and to create a realistic plan for making these things happen. Keep it simple too. If you feel overwhelmed just reading through your goals or plans, review them and see if they can be broken down into more manageable chunks.

Sticking to some of your resolutions can be a bit of a challenge, so you why not boost your chances of success by having some help along the way. Aromatherapy and essential oils are great tools to help you focus on your path of personal growth and success. These lovely natural remedies can help us make the most of this energy of change and support us in keeping our intentions and resolutions.

Essential oils work because their aromas affect our emotional senses, and because of this they impact our bodies through our nervous system. This is because the nerves in the nasal cavity responsible for our sense of smell – our olfactory nerves – are directly connected to the limbic system in our brain. This system is the centre of instinct, emotion, memory and mood. It’s located in the core of the brain and includes the hypothalamus, hippocampus and amygdala.

Read on for ideas on using aromatherapy for some of the more common New Year’s resolutions. Remember though, give yourself plenty of time to reflect on your needs and desires and be gentle with yourself. Let your 2020 resolutions include your own self-care; being kind to yourself, taking care of your health and giving yourself the time and space to do fun stuff too.

‘This year I will workout more…’

Following a festive period of indulging in rich food, drinking more alcohol than usual and binge-watching TV while relaxing by the fire, it is almost inevitable that this is the first resolution that comes to mind for many of us. We all tend to be more sedentary in the winter – that instinct to hibernate can be so hard to resist. However, we need exercise to help us maintain our health and wellbeing. Doctors say that, at the very least, we should try and get outdoors and walk for 30 minutes each day. But in the cold winter, this does not always appeal. Sitting in the one position on the sofa means our muscles are working to maintain that position. And working muscles produce a waste product called lactic acid which is normally taken away by circulation. Doing stretches each day will keep lactic acid from building up in the muscles and cardiovascular exercise will improve circulation and help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat levels.

If you haven’t tried essential oils as part of your exercise regime yet, you might be surprised at how they can help you get motivated to exercise and into the right mindset to stick to your workout goals.

Essential oils that stimulate the body and encourage more energy for exercise are Basil, Black Pepper, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Tea Tree. These oils – choose two or three – can added to a diffuser or oil burner. Or one drop each of two or three of the oils can be added to your morning body wash to stimulate the senses and the circulation. And your bathroom will smell amazing.

Don’t forget to cool down and stretch after your workout, again to stop lactic acid build up. Enjoy some relaxation time in a hot bath with oils to ease muscular aches and pains. Essential oils that can assist the muscles in eliminating acids are Eucalyptus, Hyssop and Juniper. For those post workout muscular aches and pains Black Pepper, Helichrysum, Marjoram, Lavender, Peppermint and Rosemary essential oils are helpful. For a calming evening time bath you can add a combination of Lavender, Chamomile, Grapefruit and Vetiver to prepare you for a good night’s sleep.

Caution: Peppermint essential oil is contraindicated for pregnant or breast feeding mothers, and for children under 5 years of age. Avoid its use if you have with epilepsy, a fever or heart disease.

Do not use Peppermint oil if you are taking homeopathic medicines as it could interfere with the remedies. Do not use at more than 1% dilution on your skin, so a maximum of 1 drop per 5ml / 1 teaspoon of lotion base, or carrier oil, and a maximum of 1 drop per 10ml of shower base or body wash. Do not use immediately before going to sleep as it might keep you awake.

‘This year I will lose some weight and eat more healthily…’

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is one of the most important things you can do to optimise your health and wellness.
And, after a few weeks of those festive dietary indulgences, we start to think about the need to shed a few pounds. It’s no surprise that losing weight is one the top New Year’s resolutions. We all rush to the latest diet books and the nearest gym with the best of intentions.

Unfortunately for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth’s seasonal energy is against us. It’s winter, a time when our bodies need hearty, warming foods to keep our internal digestive fire going. In winter, with the expectation of a long period of cold and hibernation, the body actually wants to hold on to weight.

The last thing our bodies want to have to digest and metabolise in winter are raw vegetables, salad or cold juices. These dampen the digestive fire and cause internal damp and cold. Stews and soups, filled with warming root vegetables, squashes and leafy greens will warm and support your digestive system. Eaten in small portions throughout the day – without carbohydrates such as bread or pasta – these will help restore you to a healthy winter weight. This year let essential oils help too.

Smell plays a big part when it comes to hunger messages and using the power of this sense with aromatherapy can help tame those food cravings. And while aromatherapy isn’t a diet or exercise program, it’s use can be a great support in helping you stick to your plans and resolutions.

Essential oils that can help us lose weight and promote digestion include Basil, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Fennel, Grapefruit, Juniper, Peppermint, Marjoram, Rosemary and Thyme. A combination of three of four of these oils, mixed in a carrier oil and massaged clockwise into your belly will help stimulate digestion and reduce oedema and digestive sluggishness.

Don’t forget to make use of things such as herbal teas and hot water and lemon to help detox the body too.

One of the best essential oils to stop food cravings is Grapefruit. When you feel those junk food cravings coming on, get your diffuser or oil burner going before you reach for that bag of crisps. Or add 2 to 4 drops of Grapefruit essential oil to a cotton pad and roll it up into an inhaler stick to keep to hand for inhalation during the day. This cheerful citrusy aroma will keep you feeling bright, energised and motivated to stay on track with your dietary New Year’s resolutions.

‘This year I will be more positive…’

January is a time of change, renewal and reflection. Many of us love this time, feeling positive and excited as we anticipate the good that the new year will bring. However, for some this is also a difficult time, especially if we had little success with the goals and resolutions set last year. Thinking about these – along with dealing with the anticlimax that comes after the festive fun is over and coping with the winter cold and darkness – can cause some to experience the ‘January Blues’.

At this time of year, with those long winter nights and the lack of sunlight, we are more susceptible to low moods and some of us can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as ‘Winter Depression’.

Sometimes finding joy and happiness can seem impossible. We tell ourselves that we must focus on the positive things in life, and yet we seem to lack the will or the energy to maintain this positivity.

Essential oils that can lighten low mood, lift depression and bring back a sense of joy include Basil, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium, Lavender, Neroli, and Rose. We have written a blog about using aromatherapy to help with SAD. You can read it here.

Restore positivity with an essential oil affirmation bath
Not everyone likes the New Year. For some the start of a new year can fill them with dread. You might not know why you dislike the New Year, and that’s okay. To help you feel more positive and confident, try the following:

Run a nice warm bath. When the bath is ready and at the right temperature, add 2 drops of Bergamot, 2 drops of Sweet Orange and 2 drops of Rose to your bath. Sweet Orange and Bergamot are really uplifting and Rose is wonderfully nourishing energetically. Stir the water well to disperse the oils.

Relax in the bath and lightly observe your thoughts, particularly any negative or anxiety-provoking ones that come into your head.

Create a positive affirmation to replace each negative thought and repeat each of these a few times to yourself. Say them out loud if you wish. If you notice a consistent theme in your dislike of the New Year, create your affirmations based on that. You can note the affirmations down in your journal after your bath. Repeat the positive affirmations before you go to sleep and first thing on waking in the morning, before you get out of bed to get a positive start to the day.

Here are some positive affirmation suggestions:

I welcome in the positivity of a fresh, exciting New Year.

I deal with New Year well, the New Year is kind to me.

I welcome change and feel excited about what this New Year will bring.

I am safe and all is well in my life.

I trust what the Universe has in store for me this exciting New Year.

I am worthy of all that is wonderful in life.

Create affirmations that resonate with and have meaning for you. Write them out on Post-Its and place these in key areas of your home where you will see them often. The bathroom mirror is a good place. The fridge door is another great spot. Repeat them throughout the day. It’s important to acknowledge any negative thoughts that come up as you’re repeating the affirmations. Note them, acknowledge that they’re showing you something that you need to be aware of and breathe through them. Do the same with any difficult feelings that arise. Try not to deny or try to bury any sad or angry feelings that come up. Keep breathing slowly and gently and let the thoughts and emotions all pass through, like a boat on a river. Gently re-affirm the positive thing or feeling state that you wish to experience.

The Heal Your Life website is a lovely and inspiring source of affirmations. It’s run by Hay House, the publishing house set up by Louise Hay, who is one of the pioneers of the use of affirmations. There are all sorts of other inspirational goodies there too.

‘This year I will attract more wealth…’

Each year we hope to create a better life for ourselves and attract more wealth into our lives. Wealth doesn’t always mean money. It can be wealth of knowledge, a wealth of new opportunities, a wealth of love or healing in our lives.

Attracting money can be a little more involved than just diffusing an essential oil. You first need to change your relationship with money, which can mean changing how you see yourself. Key to this is believing that you are worthy to have wealth in all its shapes and forms. Belief in yourself, self-love and the desire to become your best self are needed to support the creation of money – or the circumstances that will bring the money – can occur.

Meditation and visualisation for creating or manifesting something – whether it be money, health, happiness, or that creative inspiration – can be enhanced with essential oils.

A meditation practice helps you quieten your mind, which in turn allows you o tap into your intuition and to hear that voice of wisdom within. Meditation helps you access a deeper level of self-awareness. Becoming more self-aware and listening within will allow you to see any blocks that you might have to allowing the wealth you wish for to come into your life. As your self-awareness grows, so will the awareness of your own self-talk – that critical inner voice. Listen to this and see where you are labelling yourself as not being deserving or telling yourself that achieving the wealth that you wish for is not possible. This awareness gives you a chance to change the dialogue and will encourage you to release any old patterns of unworthiness. This is not a one-off process, but rather a daily practice that requires mindfulness and awareness of your thoughts throughout the day.

Essential oils that can support you in this work are Angelica, Cypress, Frankincense, Lavender, Myrrh, Patchouli and Sandalwood.

These oils will enhance your meditation and visualisation practices, helping you to make the energy shifts within that allow you to see possibilities for manifesting all kinds of good things in your life, including new opportunities and avenues of income.

Remember though, you need to feel it. If you can truly feel what it would be like to have the money in your pocket or wallet and know that you are worthy and deserving of having it, you will create the energy or vibration for it, and the opportunities, gifts or ideas will present themselves. You have to suspend all doubt and believe that it will happen with every cell in your body. Try not to be too prescriptive about how this money or thing will come though – think about the essence rather than the form of what having the money will do for you. It helps to remember the reason why you want it. Will it give you more freedom, security, peace of mind? Will it allow you to go travelling, get that new car, those new shoes for your kids, start that new business? Ask yourself what the essence of having the money feels like and focus on that.

Try the following blend in your diffuser:
2 drops of Frankincense, 2 drops of Sandalwood and 1 drop of Cypress.

Keep a tissue in your pocket with a couple of drops of your blend, and when those pesky doubts try to step in, inhale the scent from the tissue to recentre yourself.

Also, keep affirmations to hand such as ‘I am open to receive all good’ or ‘I receive easily’ or ‘I deserve the best and I accept it now’. Write the affirmations on an index card or postcard (or several cards), and keep them with you. You can even add a drop of your blend to the card and inhale the aroma as you read the affirmations. Our sense of smell is linked to our memories, so the aroma will remind you of your goals and intentions and help you keep focused.

‘This year I will practice better self-care…’

We often seem to find it easier to spend our energy taking care of those around us both at home and in the workplace. You may think you don’t have time to take care of yourself, or that it’s selfish. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to perform at your best either at home or at work. Taking care of others is important, however we sometimes use this as a way of hiding from the things we need to pay attention to in our own lives. Self-care is essential, not selfish. So this year, commit being more aware of your own needs and to giving yourself some love and care too.

Some ways that you can look after you in the busy-ness of life include being really clear in your communications and saying precisely what you mean, need or want, not defaulting to people-pleasing, trusting your own intuition and instincts and not belittling yourself, the amount of work that you do or your achievements. Give yourself time to reflect and recharge each day. Add space to breathe in between each task, meeting or event. Remember you.

A couple of blends

Here are couple of diffuser blend ideas. The number of drops depends on the size of the room. Start with 5 or 6 and add more depending on the fragrance throw that you want.

Cleanse and refresh

  • 2 drops Grapefruit
  • 2 drops Mandarin
  • 1 drop Cypress

Balance and uplift

  • 3 drops of Geranium
  • 3 drops of Jasmine
  • 3 drops of Ylang Ylang.

Time to unwind

  • 3 drops of Lavender
  • 3 drops of Sweet Orange
  • 2 drops of Chamomile

Try the following blend for a lovely pre-bedtime relaxing bath

  • 2 drops of Lavender
  • 2 drops of Grapefruit
  • 1 drop of Roman Chamomile
  • 1 drop of Vetiver

Some words of caution

Do remember that essential oils are highly concentrated, therapeutic agents and as such need to be diluted in a base cream or carrier oil before being applied to your skin. The normal dilution for a general body massage is between 1 and 3%. This works out as approximately 6 to 18 drops per 30ml of base lotion or carrier oil. The lower percentage is recommended for children.

Up to 6 drops in total can be added to a very warm bath. Ensure that the bath is at the right temperature for you before adding your blend of essential oils. Stir the water vigorously to disperse the oils. With aromatherapy, less is often more when working with pure undiluted aromatherapy oils.

Always keep essential oils of out the reach of children. Do not ingest essential oils. Keep them away from your eyes and mouth.

If you are under medical supervision or on medication, please consult with your medical team before using aromatherapy essential oils.

And finally

Remember, whatever tools or methods you choose to help keep your resolutions, be kind to yourself. Make some time for your own self-care and wellbeing and use essential oils to ease gently and positively into a very Happy New Year!