Calgary is a haven for winter sports. With its 9 months of snow and temperatures which make you long for a walk in a freezer just to warm up a little bit at times, you get used to the cold. But there’s a difference between ‘getting used to it’ and actually enjoying it. One of the best ways that you can enjoy winter is to use the warming and calming influence of essential oils around your home and add some spice to your holidays!
Winter isn’t winter without the sweet smell of spicy cinnamon in the air. Cinnamon is a stimulating, rich aroma but it remains earthy, almost woody. It makes you feel calm and amenable, but also is good at clearing your chest of any mucous that can build up and get infected. It’s anti-oxidant effect will keep you feeling great and full of energy for all the snow-boarding you know you want to do!
For best effect use cinnamon oil in a burner, mixed with other essential oils and enjoy the sweet scent as you warm up by the fire.
Both clove and cinnamon have strong antibacterial qualities, and smell absolutely wonderful together so are a great winter combination. They protect you from bacteria that could cause cold or flu and encourage your body to expel any mucous on your chest. It also aids in relieving aches and pains, unless you’ve been snowboarding and you’ve got a broken leg. That needs a cast, not clove. The smell is all personal choice, but nothing smells more ‘chestnuts roasting by an open fire’ than burning cinnamon, clove and orange oil in an aromatic burner.
Although orange oil has no real winter time effervescent effect, it goes well with cinnamon and clove and produces a ‘feel good’ aroma that does recharge the batteries and brighten your horizons. It’s rich, fruity tones make produce feelings of contentment and make the winter seem more enjoyable.
Orange can make your skin sensitive to light so make sure you cover up on sunny days.
Ravensara, Manuka (New Zealand Tea Tree oil) and Tea Tree oil all have excellent anti-bacterial properties – more so than the above three oils, but they smell like they act … anti-bacterial! They are grouped together as one choice as they have the same properties for winter, but also aromas that are distinct and not easily masked if you use all three in a blend! With these oils in winter, less is more.
These are vital to keep your atmosphere as cold and flu free as possible, but their unmistakably cleansing aroma can make your home smell like a hospital. They key is to blend a little of one of these oils in with others but have them as low tone in the aroma; unless you like your home smelling like the local Emergency room all winter.
Myrrh has been associated with the holidays for the last 2,000 years, but it has a great warming and mellowing quality which is also great for skin. You can burn it with the other oils mentioned above as it too has an earthy aroma, but a home-made hand salve would work just as well. Think of it as the feelings you get from being snuggled up with a warm cup of cocoa by the fire, without the cocoa. Or the fire.
One of the best anti-depressants known in the botanical world, ylang ylang is a great winter essential oil as it lifts and calms the soul that is suffering from a seasonal lack of sunshine. If winter gets you down draw up a warm bath (not too hot as it evaporates the oil too quickly) and add some ylang ylang oil diluted in a suitable carrier oil, like sweet almond. Make sure you agitate the water to disperse the oil and stay in and relax for at least fifteen minutes for the best effect. Just don’t get in the bath with your partner. Ylang ylang has a powerful effect on your libido – but at least that will warm you up too.
Rosemary is a warm and stimulating oil that is great when used in a massage. If your muscles ache then use Rosemary in a carrier oil, like grape seed or jojoba, and massage the affected area. You don’t have to be a masseuse to do this, any type of rubbing or firm patting will help your muscles relax and the oil seep into your skin. You could even roll a rolling pin up and down the muscles and get the massaging effect.
Lavender is the most useful of all essential oils. Mild, effective and relieves just about everything, you need to keep Lavender oil in as a staple in your medicine cabinet. Pop a little on tissue when for when you feel a little under the weather and suspect a cold coming on, and sniff to relax and cleanse your senses. It relieves pain, is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and lifts your spirits. I can be used neat – the only oil that can be – just dab a small drop on your temple and pulse points, especially in public areas where the bacteria lurk.
Even though bergamot is an orange, it has a spicy lemon aroma that is an amazing ‘pick me up’ for when the dark days come. Not only is it a powerful mood enhancer, it is good for insomnia, relieves tiredness and stress, as well as improving depression. It’s great for acne prone skin, evening out the oils and increasing the natural moisturizers in each layer, so it works well in soothing eczema which often flares up during winter. Mix it in a balm or moisturizer to maximize its benefit on winter blues, and winter skin.
Black pepper is essentially peppercorns in an oil form. It’s another warm and stimulating oil but is less harsh than cinnamon or clove, but also has an unmistakable aroma. It’s excellent for relieving coughs and colds as it increases circulation and when mixed with eucalyptus it is a powerful expectorant. It is energizing (great for when you’re feeling that winter lethargy), tones and relaxes muscles, and benefits the digestive system and the urinary tract. Use it sparingly in a massage and you’ll be up and running in no time.
It’s easy to incorporate a little pampering into your winter schedule (what else do you have to do!) so here are a few recipes to help you enjoy nature’s way of helping you survive winter.
In a small to medium size bowl mix together the salts. Add each type of oil, stirring the oil in with a wooden spoon after each oil is added. When finished add the scented salts to a full tub of warm water. Alternatively, add a 1/4 cup of this mixture to a small foot bath. This recipe is not recommended for pregnant individuals, or those who suffer from epileptic attacks.
In a small dark bottle or glass jar add 1/2 of the recommended base oil. To this add the recommended drops of all the essential oils mentioned above, swirling the jar to mix the oils after each essential oil is added. When all the essential oils have been added, add the remaining base oil. Swirl and mix one more time. Apply to the skin as needed. This essential oil is good for all people, but do try a small amount first to the skin to ensure that the recipe is not too strong and does not cause a reaction. This oil should help to warm, moisturize and revitalize the skin through the winter months.
Use these essential oils often in your winter routine to lift your spirits on the long days, but also to relax your body when you need it, and you may need it more often than you think – in Calgary it’s always a long winter. You don’t have to invest in all the oils, just two or three to use regularly and let your nose be your guide! If you like the smell, you’ll use it.
With the help of a little sunshine, some oil infused body butter and little bit of exercise, you can enjoy winter to its fullest, just like Mother Nature intended.
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