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Essential Oils and Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Jo Hunt
Monday, October 29, 2018

Using Essential Oils For Emotional Support during the Winter Months

One of the most wonderful things about essential oils is their ability to affect emotions directly when they are inhaled. Their chemical constituents are able to go directly from the nose to the limbic system part of the brain and have a direct and immediate effect on emotions.

There have been many research studies conducted to demonstrate how several essential oils, the most famous of which is lavender, can alleviate anxiety, but essential oils can also be generally uplifting and help with other wintry types of emotions.

Essential Oils for Winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people in the world every year. It is a type of depression that usually starts sometime in the Autumn and improves sometime in the spring and ranges in severity from feeling more tired and possibly grumpy to serious, clinical depression. Light therapy is one of the simplest tools one can used to combat these negative feelings. Several essential oils can also be used in diffusers, in personal cosmetics, and in the bath to help people feel better during the darker months. When SAD is deep-seated and affects a person’s ability to function, it is important to seek professional medical and/or counselling assistance, but essential oils can also be used in conjunction with most medical or psychiatric interventions.

Less Common For Emotional Support

My personal experience has been that any aroma that a person enjoys can be therapeutic on the emotional level. This opens the door to using many other essential oils for winter wellness.

How to Best Use Essential Oils For Winter Wellness

Methods of essential oil inhalation are best for both emotional and respiratory concerns. Think of using diffusers, aromasticks, aromastones, and steams. Topical use in the form of chest rubs, massage oils, and perfumes can also be helpful.

With the many essential oil choices you can use both through inhalation and topically, you can be well-prepared for everything from shovelling snow to snuggling up in a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace. Remember your conifer and leaf essential oils, along with the citrus family of oils for all-around winter wellness, as well as favourite, comforting essential oils for emotional support. Be sure to check out the recommended reading selections below for other tools and techniques to make your winter a healthy, cheerful one.

Winter Essential Oils

So, if you are keen to get started, why not add some of my favourite winter essentials to your seasonal repertoire? Here are tips on how to use some of my best winter wonder oils…

Winter Warmers

It’s definitely getting chilly, and this can cause issues for those who tend to suffer with aches and pains when our muscles tense up in the cold. Top winter warmers for achy muscles and joints include:

  • Black pepper – a great essential oil for warming up the muscles and joints, it is also a useful chilblain remedy!
  • Ginger – this oil has a warming, comforting seasonal scent that really reminds of us Christmas. It is great for soothing muscle pain and for combating fatigue.
  • Deep Blue – this is blend of a few oils including peppermint and wintergreen so will help warm up the body and also support aches and pains.
  • Cardamom – another warming oil, also great for digestion, as well as being uplifting, which is always good in the dark and dullness of winter!

Blending Tip: Treat yourself to a warming massage with 2 drops Black Pepper, 2 drops Ginger and 1 drop Cardamom in 15ml Fractionated Coconut Oil. Gently massage in to sore muscles and joints in an upwards direction towards the heart.

Scent of the Season

I personally love the seasons we have here in the UK – I look forward to Winter at the end of Summer, and I can’t wait for Summer at the end of Winter! Our sense of smell is strongly linked to the part of our brain that is responsible for our memories and so certain winter essential oils can remind us of particular times of year! Here are my favourite oils for getting into Christmas mode:

  • Cinnamon Bark – the most popular Christmas scent, perhaps due to Cinnamon’s use in so much Christmassy food! This is a great oil for winter as it is warming, uplifting and also great for calming digestive problems.
  • Pines and Firs – for obvious reasons, these essential oils are very seasonal! It's invigorating, antibacterial, antiseptic and an excellent expectorant, making it ideal for winter coughs and colds
  • Wild Orange – did you always get an orange in your Christmas stocking? Well, it’s a Christmas tradition – so Orange is a lovely scent to add to the mix! Not only this, but it’s great for immunity and very uplifting! It’s one of my ultimate all-time favourite essential oils!

Blending Tip: Pop 2-3 drops Cinnamon, 2-3 drops Douglas Fir and 4-5 drops Wild Orange in a bowl of Himalayan Pink Salt to naturally fragrance your room. Yummy!

Shaking Seasonal Sadness

It’s easy to get down in the dark months, so use my favourite aromatherapy blend to lift yourself back up!

  • Geranium – Great choice of a very female oil its great for balancing the emotions and hormones, it is also detoxifying and relaxing. An all-round winter wonder oil!
  • Rose – this oil would make it onto my favourite list no matter what season! Very balancing, and the best essential oil for creating loving feelings towards the self and others, it’s a great oil to uplift you and get you through any negative emotions.

Coughs and Colds

If any season is known for its bugs, it’s this one. Luckily there are a few oils in my favourites’ list that help with both prevention, through building immunity, and relief from symptoms. Air (Breathe) Ravensara – a top essential oil for both building immunity and also fighting illness. A great alternative to Melaleuca for those who aren’t keen on the scent.

  • Eucalyptus – great for respiratory support, this is the best essential oil for when you’re bunged up.
  • Lemongrass – a great immunity support and also very uplifting and excellent for fatigue. This is a lovely and happy oil to combine into a winter wellness blend.

Blending Tip: Once a week - or as needed if you are poorly - add 2 drops Air, 3 drops Eucalyptus and 3 drops Lemongrass to a large bowl of boiling water. Pop a towel over your head, close your eyes and lean over the bowl to inhale the steam for up to 10 minutes. On Guard is another amazing oil to use during these months to keep the immune system topped up and can support the whole body. This product range comes in the oil, softgels and beadlets. You can also pop these oils on a cotton pad and carry it round with you to sniff during the day.

Seasonal Skincare

Winter can take its toll on our skin, but there are some great essential oils to use for winter skincare.

  • Frankincense  – is great for dry, damaged skin and is my absolute favourite for rejuvenating and balancing the complexion. Likewise, it’s an obvious Christmassy scent!
  • Lavender  – a great all-round balancing oil, you can’t be without it in the winter – especially as it can be used neat, unlike other essential oils!
  • Cedarwood  – a lovely astringent oil to balance all skin, but with a particular affinity for oily skin types!

Cocooning Comfort

Finally, my ultimate pampering treat, and favourite way of using Essential Oils during the winter, is a luxurious bath!

Blending Tip: Combine 3 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Ylang Ylang and 2 drops Grapefruit | with 15ml Bath Oil or Bath & Shower Gel and add to the running bath water. Close all the doors and windows, lie in the bath, and do some nice deep breathing to inhale the oils and aid relaxation.

When you’re feeling the wellbeing stresses and strains this chilly season, think of aromatherapy to get you back to balance. Be sure to add these favourites to your Christmas list – that’s if you can wait that long to try them out!