My Favorite Essential Oils (and why)

I’m on an ongoing health journey, and about five months ago essential oils became a part of that journey. I did quite a bit of research on which oils did what, and what these oils were really capable of. I read personal testimonies from people who used them and saw incredible results. I saw photos of before and afters. And I was excited to have my own personal testimonies. I personally use Doterra essential oils because of their purity and the amount of testing done on them. This is my personal preference, but I by no means think that there are not other worthy companies out there. When choosing your brand just be sure they are quality oils, with testing to back up their claims of purity. I use oils to help me manage anxiety, headaches, hormones, pimples, and prevent sickness. I have a few oils that are my daily go-tos and  have really made a difference in my life. In fact… I’ve been known to basically just sniff oils through a stressful movie… I can’t handle suspense or violence or anything that is a comedy.

1.) Elevation, also known as the joyful blend, is my absolute favorite. It smells like sunshine in a bottle and has been a huge help in managing my anxiety. I usually put it on my wrists and my neck and the smell literally gives me an immediate lift. I had been looking for a natural way to manage the anxiety I was experiencing, and elevation has mad a huge difference with that. I use it every day, usually about two or three times a day. (Especially after a trip to the dentist…)

2. Clary calm is the blend for women. I recently came off birth control (not to have a baby… stopping that rumors before it starts) because there is a slight history of blood clotting in my family, and that can be a side effect of it. I just felt safer not being on it, but I was nervous about the way my body would react coming off of it. I have heard of people experiencing extreme emotions and friends… I am already emotional enough. I thought I’d give this hormone balancing blend a try and I’m SO glad I did. I put it on my feet in the morning and at night and it had a huge impact.

3. Peppermint oil is good for so many things. I have used it to help with wisdom tooth infections and pain. I have used it to help with pain from cracked tooth (twice…). And I have used it for headaches and stomach aches and to even help clear up my breathing. When mixed with wild orange it is even good to help with focus. It’s one of my favorite go to oils.

4. Wild Orange oil can also be used for uplifting your mood, or you can put it in your water. I do both of those things. You can also put it in cleaning sprays because it’s is a strong purifying agent. It is also high in antioxidants and helps protect you against sickness! It smells amazing and tastes even better.

5. On Guard oil is also known as the protective blend. I have made a blend with on guard, lemon, melaleuca, and oregano and I put it on my feet at night and in the morning. Sometimes I will also take on guard in a capsule in the morning if I start to feel worn down.

There are many more oils that I use and love, like balance, serenity, oregano, melaleuca, lemongrass, frankincense and geranium. I’ve made cleaning supplies, put drops in my lotions for soft skin, made a pimple buster blend, and soon I’m going to start making my own deodorant. My mom has used them to help with some of my brother’s behavioral problems. And my mother in love/father in love have used them to get off some medications and my brother in love has used them to help with his asthma. I know that essential oils aren’t the answer to every problem, but they are a piece of the wellness puzzle. If you want to learn more about them, and their many uses let me know!

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How to talk yourself down from the ledge (Day Two)

Story time! A few days ago my car broke down in the middle of the left turning lane at a light near where I work. During the lunch rush. Bless. I am incredibly ill equipped to handle situations such as this. I automatically get overwhelmed and I shut down… and cry. Not cute tears either. BIG UGLY tears. The kind where it makes your body shake, and speaking coherent words is a no-go. So the car just shuts off in the turning lane, on my way to the Fresh Market to buy cheap chicken, and I immediately turn into a puddle in my car. I try to turn it on over and over. I let it sit for a minute, then try again. STILL NOTHING. At this point I’m in full on panic attack mode. A kind and well meaning woman comes up to the side of my car and asks, “Is it not starting?” I told her no, that it would just not start, it shut off on it’s own and we just replaced the battery, and I have no idea what it could be. She tried to coax me out of the car, but it wasn’t happening. I called Steve and through tears managed to tell him that the car turned off in the middle of a turning lane and I didn’t know what to do. He told me to call Allstate Roadside Assistance. So I did. And they told me, “Sorry ma’am, you’re not on the policy.” More tears follow. “What do you mean? This is his car, shouldn’t the policy cover his car?” “No ma’am, it covers him, no matter what car he is driving.” More tears. Finally she communicated to me that I could be added to the policy, she just had to call Steven to verify that it was ok with him. She did that, and by this time a police officer had shown up, only adding to my anxiety. Finally a tow truck is ordered, about 20-30 minutes later it shows up and brings me where I thought would be best. Well, it wasn’t really where it needed to be so then I waited for 3 more hours for the next tow truck. Now poor Winslow the car is in the shop awaiting his new distributor.

Needless to say, it was a very long and mentally/emotionally exhausting day. I think the main part that created the anxiety was this feeling of helplessness. I felt stuck, I felt in the way, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I was in unknown territory and my brain/emotions did not know how to handle themselves. Thus all the tears. I literally cried to six people. SIX. Bless. Luckily I was going to counseling that night and Whitney shed some light on my predicament, and gave me some tools for the next time I experience something like that. She told me the goal is not to never hit “ten” on the panic meter, but instead it’s to know how to get myself down from that high place. That made a lot of sense to me, and today I was able to test out some of the tips we had gone over so I know that they can be helpful. Actively taking your thoughts captive and replacing them with reality actually works. Who knew??!!

Have you ever experienced that kind of panic? The kind that shuts you down and paralyzes you from making the moves that need to be made? I feel like I can’t be alone here, and because I know that knowledge is power I thought I would share some of these handy dandy tools with you.

Step 1.

Identify the emotion you are feeling, or what words you are using to describe yourself. For me I felt helpless and in people’s way. I felt like I was upsetting people that were trying to go about their lunch break without getting stuck behind a broken car. It’s important to identify this part, because you can’t replace it with anything if you don’t first figure out what exactly you’re replacing.

Step 2.

Ask yourself, “What is the evidence for and against this thought?” For me the evidence for being helpless was that I was stuck in a car that wouldn’t start in the turning lane. The evidence that I was in the way was that I was literally… in people’s way. The evidence against me being helpless is that I had a cell phone to call my husband and roadside assistance, I have a wonderful husband who helped me, and I had roadside assistance to send a tow truck for free. The evidence against me being in the way was that people were easily able to get around me, and even if they were annoyed that was unreasonable of them and not my responsibility.

Step 3. 

 Ask yourself, “What would I tell a friend with this same situation?” If a friend texted or called me and they were like, “I’M STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF A TURNING LANE!!! STUCK I SAY!” I would be like, “Friend, you are not stuck, you are not helpless! Let’s call you a tow truck, this happens to people, it’s not your fault but you can do hard things!” In fact, once I had calmed down a little I texted my friend Leigh, and she told me that if I can make it through this I can make it through anything. And then later that night she told me I was a warrior! I felt like a mess, but she told me I was strong. It was my daily reminder that the way I see myself isn’t always reality.

Step 4.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could realistically happen? How bad would that be?” That day, the worst that could happen was that I would get a ticket for obstructing traffic, and I would spend the whole day stranded with my car in various places (which did happen… and I survived.), or the car could be broken beyond a repair that we could afford. If any of those things happened, the world wouldn’t end. It maybe wouldn’t be pleasant but I would (and did) make it through. Sometimes when we are in a state of panic or fear we automatically go to the worst possible thing that could ever happen ever, when the reality is that it probably won’t come to pass. It’s good to live in reality and remind yourself that the situation isn’t usually as bad as it feels!

and

Step 5.

Ask yourself, “What can I accept about this situation?” My car broke down, that was that and there wasn’t a ton I could do about it. I can’t fix cars… honestly I don’t even know how to check the oil in a car. Bless. So I had to accept the fact that I was stuck with that blessed hunk of junk and all I could do was look to other people to help and make the next right choice. Maybe you are stuck in a bad relationship and you have to accept that it’s not getting better and it’s time to leave. Or you are in a job you don’t love and you have to accept that there is no other option on the horizon and you have to make the best of where you are. When we can acknowledge and accept that which is unchangeable or outside of our control, it’s easier to make peace with it.

Now this list is by no means exhaustive. Whitney gave me a paper from Specialty Behavioral Health and that is where I got the questions from. There are more on the sheet but I didn’t want this post to go on forever. I feel like this is a good starting place for the times when your feelings threaten to overwhelm you. Remember that emotions are just indicators, when you start to feel panic or fear or anger it’s pointing you to something in your life that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t make sense to dismiss or avoid what you are feeling. That’s like ignoring the “service engine” light on your car.  If you don’t service the engine… it’s going to stop working. If you don’t acknowledge and address what your emotions are telling you… well you’re probably going to have a breakdown. The above questions can help you work through what you feeling and also bring you back down to reality. I know that it is helping me, so I hope that you will be able to take these questions and use them to help you too!

*just a disclaimer here… I am NOT a counselor or mental health professional. The above is just information that I am finding useful throughout my time in counseling. : )

Five Ways I Deal with Anxiety Naturally

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember.Maybe it goes along with the being oldest kid, but whatever the reason it’s been a part of my life for a long time. I never really had a name for those sick stomachs and overwhelming panic until I started going to counseling and Whitney shed some light on what I was experiencing. She had me fill out an anxiety inventory and the results helped me understand what I had been feeling. I knew that my anxiety had been affecting my relationships, my self-esteem, and honestly, even my quality of life so I decided it was time for me to start treating it.

I knew that I wanted to try to go about it at naturally as possible without a prescribed medication. I don’t want anyone to think I am being down on medication. I know that for some this type of treatment is literally life saving and I think that it is brave to do what needs to be done to help yourself. Whether that is medication or therapy, or some type of homeopathic method, or combination of them all, I think just seeking treatment is brave and doing what you need to do to help yourself is brave. In my personal journey towards being in anxiety “remission” I am choosing to pursue a more natural route, BUT I am NOT a doctor so what works for me might not work for you! This is not a one size fits all post, but just my personal experience.

I did a lot of research and exploration in the realm of natural treatment and came up with a few things that have helped me a lot so far!

1.) L-Theanine

One of the first things I learned about was a supplement called L-Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea and it encourages relaxation and eases stress and tension. I read that it was originally discovered because people noticed how relaxed and tranquil monks were and made the connection between their demeanor and the mass amounts of green tea that they drank. In order to get that effect you would need to treat like 50 cups of green tea so I buy it in capsule form on Amazon. Love me some Amazon Prime! L-Theanine can be used to treat anxiety, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. Essentially it helps transmit nerve impulses, similarly to what glutamate does. The jury is still out in the scientific community as far as whether or not it is helpful for those with anxiety, but from my personal experience, I feel a difference. I take two capsules a day and since I started I have felt more chill and lighter for lack of a better word. My emotions have also felt less all over the place, and more even.

2.) Decrease in caffeine

Listen friend, I’m a coffee drinker to the core. If I could just constantly drink coffee all day long I totally would. It’s an experience for me, it’s honestly part of the reason I can push myself out of bed in the morning. Coffee is my happy place, so thus I am unwilling to give it up completely, however I have attempted to decrease my intake. Instead of drinking coffee throughout the day I try to drink it only in the morning that way the effects wear off before bed and I am able to sleep more soundly. Because caffeine (coffee) is a stimulant, it can make us feel more on edge which is no good for someone who struggles with anxious thoughts and feelings. This one is probably the hardest one for me to do, because I LOVE COFFEE, and I’m not legalistic with myself about it. For example last night Steve and I went to Starbucks and I got a latte, so there is grace for this coffee lover.

3.) Decrease in sweets

I’ve heard a few times that sugar affects the same part in your brain as cocaine, and because that means it’s very addictive and just not good for you I decided to follow something like the Daniel Plan. I still put some sugar in my coffee, and I eat a piece of organic dark chocolate here and there BECAUSE ANTIOXIDANTS PEOPLE… but outside of that I’ve been trying to stay away from sweets. Today I’ve been craving a donut something awful, but I’m staying strong! I’ve found that I feel better when I’m not putting junk in my body and that is good motivation.

4.) Lavender and chamomile

I keep a lavender diffuser on my desk at work, burn lavender candles at home like they’re going out of style, and have replaced most of my coffee drinking with chamomile tea. Let me tell you, both of these things are so relaxing! In addition to the relaxing scent, lavender essential oil has been shown to be a powerful way to treat anxiety. I haven’t started this method as much because I’m waiting on mine to arrive, but I have tried a sample of it and it really has worked well. It can also be used to help encourage a good night of sleep. If I start to feel overwhelmed at work I stop what I’m doing, pick up my mug and make some chamomile tea. The smell and the taste and just the whole experience is incredibly calming.

5.) Taking my thoughts captive and creating boundaries

Honestly this one is so important, and it’s one I’m still working on getting better at. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious I have to stop and speak truth to myself. Like, “You can do hard things Sarah” or “This isn’t forever” or “what could the worst possible outcome be?” or “These things you are feeling right now are not reality, the reality is that the Lord loved you and made you and sent His son to die for you, you aren’t a failure, you’re just human”. Sometimes the truth I speak isn’t really what I feel, but I say it anyway. I’m also learning to set boundaries with myself and with other. I am trying to remember what’s in my area, and what things I’m responsible for. Boundaries help keep anxiety at bay because it can keep you from taking on more than what you are responsible for!

These are five things that help me, but again they might not be what works for you, maybe taking medication is what works or maybe a good counseling session keeps the anxiety demons at bay. I think you have to figure out what works for you! My goal in writing this post was to help you feel encouraged and not alone. Maybe you know exactly the kind of anxiety I’m talking about because you experience it every day, or every week, but you feel alone and you don’t know where to start in treating it. Well friend, I want you to know you’re not alone and that sometimes it’s the getting started part that’s the hardest but YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS… WE can do hard things! We don’t have to live with anxiety, we can kick it’s dang butt and live in freedom! Whether that’s through natural ways or medicine ways it doesn’t matter! You do what you (and your doctor/psychiatrist/counselor) think is best for your health and keep on being brave you strong person you! In conclusion, here’s to freedom, and lavender, and being brave!