May 05, 2022
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and if there’s one thing you hear more than anything it’s how important self-care is to overall wellbeing. What does that mean? Just as every person is an individual, what feeds our soul and nourishes our spirit—and what we need at this moment in our life—looks very different for each person and may change throughout our lives. The challenge is finding and creating habits that fit best with your lifestyle. The great news is that establishing one good habit feeds another. For example, if you exercise more, you are more likely to get better sleep, which will in turn help to clear your mind and regain your focus. 1,2
We’ve gathered together so many great ideas, we’ll break these into a series of topics: Breathing, Movement, Recreation, Rest, and Nutrition & Hydration.
Today, let’s start with how mindful breathing techniques and meditation can provide relaxation in challenging situations.
There are many different breathing exercises to learn and master. We’ll start with one that is easy to remember and calms the body’s fight-flight response. While optimal in a quiet environment, this technique can be done anytime and anywhere when you need to recenter yourself. Ideally be seated comfortably, attentively with good posture yet with the body relaxed. If you need to release tension, shrug your shoulders, roll your neck and be sure you are sitting with both feet square on the floor. Once mastered, this technique can also be used during activity and exercise.3,4
Focus on breathing through your nose only. Then find what count is comfortable for you. Maybe it’s a count of 3 for the inhale, “1, 2, 3” and 6 for the exhale “6, 5, 4…” Or you may need to adjust the count of 2 for the inhale and 4 for the exhale or counts of 4 and 8. The important thing to do is make the exhale twice as long as the inhale. Make sure the breath flows naturally with no pauses or breaks. You shouldn’t be gasping for air at the end of a cycle. Practice until you notice a more relaxed state of mind or set a timer and continue for about two minutes.
Certainly, you can find 10 minutes in your day to center and give yourself a mindful break. Maybe you need to schedule it into your day? Get up 10 minutes earlier or set a reminder. Microbreaks throughout your day can make you more productive.5 Download our free 10 Minute Meditation to give yourself the break you deserve, so you can come back to whatever you were doing with more attention and focus.
Allergies, environmental pollutants, and infections such as a cold or the flu can cause congestion or inflammation of the sinus tissue making it difficult to breathe. In this article, Breathe Deep and Breathe Calm,® we’ve listed some of our favorite essential oils for respiratory support. Our Breathe Calm blend promotes deep breathing and open airways.
1“Caring for Your Mental Health.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Updated April 2021, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health.
2“Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Updated 31 August 2021, https://www.nih.gov/health-information/your-healthiest-self-wellness-toolkits.
3Clarke, John. “Soothe Your Nervous System with 2-to-1 Breathing.” Yoga International, https://yogainternational.com/article/view/soothe-your-nervous-system-with-2-to-1-breathing.
4Bergland, Christopher. "Longer Exhalations Are an Easy Way to Hack Your Vagus Nerve: Respiratory vagus nerve stimulation (rVNS) counteracts fight-or-flight stress." Psychology Today, 9 May 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201905/longer-exhalations-are-easy-way-hack-your-vagus-nerve.
5Zetlin, Minda. "For the Most Productive Workday, Science Says Make Sure to Do This." Inc., 21 March 2019, https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/productivity-workday-52-minutes-work-17-minutes-break-travis-bradberry-pomodoro-technique.html.
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