Growing wellness. Healing with HeART.

Growing Wellness. Healing with HeART.
Exploring Aromatherapy, Earth Medicine, and the creative process of Art Journaling as paths to healing and wholeness.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Storing Essential Oils

As the cool weather surrounds us, we seem to turn more towards using essential oils in our homes, and questions often arise as to how to store these precious (and often expensive) oils.  

In order to maximize the life of your essential oils, they need to be stored much like wine; away from light and heat. When you buy essential oils they should be in dark glass bottles to protect their chemical constituents and we want to keep them in these bottles.  Store your oils in a dark place, out of direct sunlight, and not in the bathroom where the heat of the shower could affect your oil's quality.  A cupboard or a shelf in your bedroom closet is ideal.  

Most essential oils that are stored properly can last a year or two, depending on how often they are opened and how much air is in the bottle. If you have a large but half-full bottle of essential oil, it would be wise to pour the oil into smaller bottles to minimize the air content in the bottle; less contact with air helps the oil to last longer.  

Essential oils rich in monoterpenes, such as citrus and evergreen oils, can oxidize quickly and are best stored in the refrigerator to maximize their longevity.  They should be used within a year, so it is best to buy these oils in small quantities. Interestingly, some of the heavier essential oils like patchouli and sandalwood actually improve with age!  

You can tell that your essential oil is past its best if the colour or scent changes, or if the oil thickens. If you notice a change in your essential oil and think it had gone bad, it is still useful for cleaning purposes. For example, Pine and Lemon essential oils are not advised to be used on the skin once they have oxidized, but they still retain their germ-fighting properties and smell fresh enough to use for cleaning!  (Remember that when cleaning you should always wear gloves, even if using natural products like essential oils.)

The best way to keep your essential oils fresh is to use them!  Using your oils and keeping them stored appropriately will maximize both your investment, and your enjoyment!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Joy of Self Care

At this very busy time of year, it is easy to be overwhelmed with our to-do lists and put our own needs after those of others.  Is this wise?  I am reminded of my flight attendant training and the safety demonstrations we gave that said "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others".  The wisdom of self-care...we know this, yet it is still so hard to put this knowledge into practice.  What if we found a way to re-define our perception of self-care and allowed ourselves to embrace the joy of taking care of ourselves while we look after those we love?

After a very difficult few months, I have struggled with trying to 'do it all' and to 'be all the things' know, that mother who is on top of all her child's academic and emotional needs and can schedule driving lessons and appointments with ease; the wife who creates a clean and uncluttered home for her husband to come home to, complete with a meal cooked from scratch; the daughter who supports her grieving family by being available for appointments or just to be together. We all have our own unique variation of this "being all the things"; but where does that leave us?  In my case, it left me exhausted, overwhelmed, angry, and sad. I finally reached my limit yesterday and took a day to stay home, and while I did clean up the house, I also gave myself permission to play in my art journal and have a bath!  Did I feel guilty?  Absolutely! And then, while soaking away the stress and letting the mental chatter of my to-do list flow down the drain, I was struck by a sense of peace, and even joy.  I had put myself first; listened to my body and my needs, and I felt revived and hopeful.  But what does this apparently selfish act mean for everyone around me?  A new and revitalized me, willing to face the season with renewed spirit!  I had been reminded that taking care of myself meant I was better equipped to help those I love: I'd found the *joy* of self-care.

If you are feeling the seasonal stress, why not schedule some time for yourself and see if you too can find the joy in self-care!