Essential Oils for Self-Care Guide
What is Self-Care?
For many of us, it's not uncommon to focus upon the needs of our families and loved ones in combination of the demands of our professions and other obligations all before taking care of ourselves.
Focusing upon everyone else first is admirable, but it can lead to burnout and fatigue.
If we look more deeply, we realize that self-care can help ensure that we're at our best and more capable of taking care of our loved ones and obligations.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines self-care quite simply as "care for oneself." [Source: Self-Care: Definition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Accessed: March 10, 2020.]
What does that definition mean to you? Do you agree with it? Give some thought on what self-care means to you.
My Personal Self-Care List
To me, self-care includes taking time out of my busy schedule to do the following...
- Engage in self-reflection and self-honesty to ensure that I am continuously improving myself in body, mind and spirit.
- Refresh myself with rest, sleep and breaks as often as possible.
- Eat healthful foods (and spend time to learn and decide for myself what I find to be truly healthful foods).
- Pay attention not only to what I put in my body but also be mindful about what I put on my body such as personal care products.
- Engage in daily fitness activities.
- Listen to my body. Seek medical attention when necessary.
- Find ways to pamper myself when needed.
- Pray (ask and thank) and meditate (listen carefully).
- Focus on friendships and relationships with individuals that are nurturing, compassionate, realistic, self-aware and that challenge me and help me grow.
- Set realistic boundaries with those who are emotionally toxic.
- Intentionally remind myself that I have self-worth even though I'm far from perfect (for those that have had an abusive parent, you'll especially understand the need for daily reminders like these).
- Appropriately, safely and mindfully incorporate herbs, essential oils and other plant based products into my lifestyle to support my emotional, physical and spiritual self-care goals. Never substitute essential oils or herbs for medical care when needed.
The above bulleted outline is my own personal self-care list for use as an example. It's very broad and covers elements that you or others may not think of when you think of "self-care." There are things that I probably have forgotten to include. Your list may be very different. Your list, for example, should incorporate any self-care recommendations set forth by your doctor.
Since starting to work with essential oils in the 90s, I have found essential oils to be extraordinarily beneficial in helping support my lifestyle and in striving to be more mindful of ongoing self-care. However, we shouldn't just try to use essential oils in every single aspect of our life. For example, I don't use essential oils directly before bed unless I absolutely need to. And essential oils aren't applicable to every aspect of my personal self-care list.
Incorporating Essential Oils Into Your Self-Care Regimen
Many self-care practices and products can be enhanced by the incorporation of essential oils. It's important, however, to remember that essential oils are very potent, and they should not be used or diffused continuously throughout the day. Be mindful of how you integrate them into your lifestyle and be sure to learn about general essential oil safety precautions and the specific safety precautions that apply to each essential oil that you use. Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils should not be used as a substitute for medical care.
Bathing is a beautiful way to cleanse, relax and unwind. If desired, you can listen to your favorite form of relaxing music, read a good book and diffuse calming essential oils. Essential oils can be added to your bathwater, but don't add them to your bathwater without first solubilizing them. It's really important to ensure that you solubilize the essential oils first because essential oils do not stay mixed with water and have the potential of seriously irritating your skin.
For more information, read AromaWeb's Introduction to Aromatic Baths and Enjoying Essential Oils When Bathing.
Self massage can be enjoyed in the convenience and privacy of your own home. Giving and receiving massages with a trusted loved one can also be mutually beneficial both emotionally and beneficially. The practice of massage can be dramatically enhanced when essential oils are implemented into the massage session correctly and sensibly. Learn about integrating essential oils with massage by exploring AromaWeb's Aromatherapy Massage article. It includes a customizable recipe for making your own massage oil blends. Be sure to also read the important precautions.
Meditation & Yoga
Use of essential oils during meditation and yoga can enhance the experience by grounding you and promoting a sense of calm. For more details, read AromaWeb's article on Meditating With Essential Oils. Visit AromaWeb's Aromatherapy Recipes Area to explore 5 Essential Oil Diffuser Blends mindfully created for use during meditation and yoga.
Essential oils can be diffused as you pray to help you focus your thoughts and prayers. AromaWeb's Praying With Essential Oils article provides helpful details and essential oil suggestions.
Beauty and Personal Care Products That Incorporate Essential Oils
Mass marketed personal care products made primarily with synthetic ingredients can potentially be harsh on our skin, the environment and on our nostrils. A growing number of beauty, cosmetic and other personal care products are available that offer greater benefit and incorporate the benefits of essential oils. Of course, just because something says it is natural or made with essential oils doesn't mean it's better for you. It's always wise to ensure that you are purchasing your products from ethical, knowledgeable companies that truly understand the benefits and precautions necessary when formulating products made with essential oils.
Before I began using essential oils, most everything I used to cleanse myself and make me smell good was mass marketed and primarily synthetic. Now, I use more natural products to pamper and care for myself. I will never have perfect skin (and that's okay by me!), but I have noticed major improvements in my skin, emotional wellness and in my appreciation for investing time in more carefully choosing the products that I put on my skin and hair.
Here is a small list of some of the products available that are formulated using essential oils:
- Bar Soaps
- Liquid Soaps
- Hair Styling Products
- Lotions, Creams and Other Moisturizers
- Bath Oils
- Bath Bombs
- Bath Salts
- Body Mists
- Room and Bed Linen Sprays
For more information: What to Look for When Shopping for Aromatherapy Products
Inhalation Methods for Self-Care
Essential Oil Diffusion
As defined on AromaWeb's Guide to Essential Oil Diffusers, diffusion is the process of dispersing essential oils so that their aroma fills a room or an area with the natural fragrance. From the simple to the elaborate, many different methods exist for diffusing essential oils into a room. Definitely check out that link to learn about diffuser types and the pros and cons for each. Also read the Essential Oil Diffuser Safety Tips.
Inhalers for On the Go
Our lives are so rushed, and diffusing while away from home can be inconvient. It's also inappropriate to diffuse around others who may be negatively impacted by the oils that we diffuse. We are all different, and particular essential oils can be harmful to those with certain health considerations or to women who may be pregnant. Essential oils also must be used with greater care around babies, children, the frail and the elderly. Personal inhalers can save the day by allowing us to use essential oils while on-the-go without invading the air space of those around us. Read AromaWeb's Guide to Essential Oil Inhalers for more information.
Pre-diluted topical essential oil blends are becoming more readily available in a convenient roll-on form. Roll-ons purchased from reputable essential oil companies make it easy to apply the diluted essential oil blend as needed. Roll-on essential oil blends are formulated to address particular emotional and physical concerns. Roll-ons exist that focus upon encouraging feelings of calm, assisting with pain management, helping to ease cold symptoms, etc. Be sure to follow the directions as the effectiveness of particular roll-on blends can be reduced if not applied properly.
Essential Oil Jewelry
There are a growing number of artisans now making beautiful jewelry that is designed to allow you to diffuse and enjoy the benefits and aroma of your favorite oils throughout the day. Read AromaWeb's Essential Oil Jewelry article to learn more about the different types of jewelry available. It also includes important safety tips and what to watch out for when shopping for aromatherapy jewelry.
Essential Oils to Help Support Emotional Wellness
Essential oils have the potential to help improve our mood. Essential oils should not be considered a miracle cure for emotional issues. However, when realistically and carefully used as a complement to appropriate medical care by qualified medical practitioners and as a complement to our self-care, particular essential oils have the potential to greatly assist in supporting emotional wellness. For more information, refer to AromaWeb's Aromatherapy for Emotional Well-Being Article.
Spending Time to Learn About Essential Oils is a Form of Self-Care
With how busy life can be, the thought of having to spend time learning about essential oils may seem contradictory to the idea of investing more time relaxing, reflecting and pampering ourselves. However, if we do not understand how to wisely and safely use essential oils, our efforts may wind up being ineffective. As a part of your self-care regimen, set aside some time to learn about essential oils from reputable sources.
To get you started on your way towards a solid essential oil foundation, explore the following resources on AromaWeb:
- Guides & Articles
- Essential Oil Book Descriptions
- Guide to Aromatherapy Education
- Aromatherapy Schools and Educators Directory
Aromatherapy is a complementary health modality. The safe use of essential oils for self-care have the potential to enhance your well-being. However, aromatherapy and the use of essential oils should not be used as a substitute for medical care.