September Self Care Tips Blog Post

September Self-Care Tips

In honor of National Self-Care Awareness Month, we’ve come up with a few September self-care tips to make your month just a little less stressful. After all, what’s more important than maintaining our health and wellness? You can, while carrying out your usual responsibilities, and it needn’t cost you much of anything. See our tips below:

  • Check out one of the new wellness/fitness apps that can help you stay focused on your routine, like “Calm” “Wakeout“, “Runkeeper“, or others. What you choose depends on your wellness goals and situation. No matter what you need to relax, unwind, and stay fit, there’s an app for that.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. In Japan, the art of Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” has been proven to improve health and well-being. Gardening has its benefits as well, as does hiking and other enjoyable outdoor activities. All are designed to refresh mind and body.
  • Choose to unplug. Most of us are constantly inundated by TV, social media and smart phone notifications. These can often create a state of sensory overload that can increase tension and disrupt sleep. The solution? Take a vacation from electronic devices, even if it’s for a day. Instead, why not have a foot soak, read a good book, write poetry, or listen to soothing music?
  • Create some real connection. Human beings are social animals. Our busy schedules and many responsibilities can leave us feeling isolated. Take a mental health day and find community by exploring a new interest. Find like-minded individuals at a Meetup group, attend a Sip & Paint event, visit an animal shelter, contact someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile; the list is endless.
  • Try aromatherapy. It has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress and treat minor ailments. Read more about its benefits here. Companies like DoTerra provide aromatherapy oil kits to help you get started. Or you can use a diffuser like this one on Amazon and experiment with different essential oil scents. You are bound to find one that promotes relaxation or lifts mood. (Read our blog post on essential oil benefits.)
  • Keep a journal. Remember when diaries were all the rage? Journaling is a more grown-up version. It’s been shown to hold many benefits. Whether or not you’re fond of writing, putting word to paper is a worthwhile exercise in self-awareness and discipline. It is a less expensive form of therapy that forces the mind to work things out, clear out the cobwebs, and relieve stress. There are also specialty journals available that help with organization and goal-setting if that suits your fancy.

There are almost as many ways to provide self-care as there are people. Do you have a favorite? We’d love to know. Feel free to contact us at:

Benefits of using essential oils

The Benefits of Using Essential Oils

What Are Essential Oils?

Before we can get into the benefits of Pre essential oils, let’s duscuss what essential oils are. They are highly-concentrated essences derived from different parts of aromatic plants, including bark, leaves and flowers. Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years, dating as far back as Egyptian times where they were used in mummification. Frankincense and Myrrh are but a few examples.

A number of methods are used to concentrate the plant’s potent compounds into an essential oil. There is the cold-process method, which invlives applying high amounts of pressure to the plant material and collecting it (much like cold pressing olives). Other methods include steam distillation, CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, and others. The first two involve the least amount of manipulation and do not involve the addition of solvents.

Benefits of Using Essential Oils

Today, essential oils are used in the beauty, spa and perfume industries for their aromatherapeutic properties and to impart natural scents to products. They have been found useful and effective as insect repellents and are included in everything from pain relief ointments to cleaning agents to toothpaste. Many herbalists and holistic practitioners find essential oils useful to their clients. Properties of specific essential oils are listed below.

Precautions with Using Essential Oils

While truly natural, pure essential oils are very potent, concentrated oils with hundreds of bio-active compounds. As such, they should never be applied directly to skin in their undiluted form. They are usually combined with a carrier oil before being sold for personal use. It is also important to do a patch test to determine whether or not one is allergic to a particular essential oils. Many oils can cause sun-sensitivity, or are inappropriate to use if one is pregnant or nursing. Finally, check the labels to see what the standardized concentrations are and what carrier oil is used, in order to avoid allergic reactions. If any oil causes redness or irritation, it should be discontinued. Essential oils are also expensive due to the work required to gather huge amounts of plant material for distillation. As a result, synthetic oils have been developed that do not contain the many active ingredients found in pure essential oils. Moreover, pure essential oil composition can vary depending on many factors, so standardized and synthetic versions are created to maintain consistency.

Phytoestrogens vs Xenoestrogens

There’s been some talk about the “estrogenic” activity of plants vs that of synthetic compounds. Many roots, seeds and grains contain what’s known as “phytoestrogenic” compounds – plant-based compounds that serve to reduce the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream. This can result in a reduction in menopausal symptoms in women, for example. “Xenoestrogens”, on the other hand, are synthetic compounds (like BPA) which can increase the body’s store of estrogen, with deleterious effects. If you have any doubts about using an essential oil, consult an herbal practitioner, particularly if you wish to use essential oils on young children.

Favorite Essential Oils

  • Eucalyptus Oil – A native of Australia, it contains the compound eucalyptol, a menthol found in rubs, inhalers, liniments, rash creams and mouthwashes.
  • Lavender Oil – There are a few varieties, with Lavendula Angustifolia being the most often used in aromatherapy. Its sweet, floral and herbaceous scent has been found to relax, sooth and refresh. It is very highly regarded in the beauty and perfume industries. It is also a wonderful culinary herb that likes sunchine and well-drained soil. It is the main essential oil in our best-selling “Relax” Botanical Handmade Bar Soap with Lavender and Rosemary Oils.
  • Lemongrass Oil – Cymbopogon Flexuosus has a light, fresh citrus aroma with earthy undertones. Rejuvenating, stimulating and balancing, it has been shown to improve mental clarity. It is also a popular culinary herb in Thai cuisine. It is the main essential oil in our “Purify” Botanical Bar Soap with Lemongrass Oil.
  • Sweet Orange Oil – Citrus Sinensis is naturally cold-pressed from fresh orange peels. It has a rich citrus scent that can be uplifting. It is high in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene and other antioxidants. It is the main essential oil in our “Indulge” Botanical Bar Soap with Orange Oil and Cocoa Powder and our “Awaken” Body Smoother Sugar Scrub.
  • Peppermint Oil – Mentha Piperita has a strong, clean, fresh minty aroma. Renowned for soothing digestion, it is popular in toothpaste and breath mints. It is one of the essential oils in our All Purpose Body Balm with Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oils. Avoid using on infants and young children.
  • Tea Tree Oil – Melaleuca Alternifolia is indigenous to Australia. It has been shown to contain compounds that can help soothe bites and other irritations, and has a wide range of uses. No medicine cabinet should be without it! It is one of the essential oils in our All Purpose Body Balm with Lavender and Tea Tree Oils and in our popular “Heal” Botanical Bar Soap with Tea Tree and Oatmeal.

References:
Organic Facts website
Essential Oils in the Ancient World, Part 1
Planta Medica paper on essential oils and estrogenic activity

Disclaimer: Statements made here are not intended to diagnose or treat diseases or medical conditions. Please consult a medical practitioner for assistance with these issues.

Your bathroom medicine cabinet, expired medications

Medications – Hiding in Plain Sight

Do you know what is in your medicine cabinet?

A clean and orderly home is something that most of us want for ourselves and our family. This is no less true for the smallest room in the house – our bathrooms. The average time spent in the bathroom daily is about 30 minutes. Usually the smallest room in the house, it is sometimes neglected when it comes to style and d├ęcor. After all, bathrooms serve a utilitarian purpose, don’t they?

Our Medicine Cabinets

The same thing can be said for our medicine cabinets. We may maintain an immaculate home, but our medicine cabinets often become cluttered by items that have long since expired. When it comes to prescription and over the counter medications, it can mean that those medications won’t work as effectively as they should. The same can be said for more natural products like essential oils or saline nasal sprays. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not require that non-drug products use expiration dates, many include them. Once past an expiration date, a product’s volatile oils and/or active ingredients may not be as effective. If you can’t remember when you purchased a product or if it smells or looks “off”, the safest thing to do is to toss it.

The same principal applies to personal care products like creams, lotions, balms, cosmetics, etc. Most products lose their potency after 36 months, but there are other considerations, especially if products are marketed as “natural”. These generally don’t stay potent for more than 24 months. Most cosmetics should be tossed after 6 months due to the danger of contamination. If you like to recycle containers, it’s best to stick with glass or aluminum jars. Plastic containers are difficult to sterilize. Otherwise, most can be taken to your local recycling center. For more information, visit the Natural Society’s Guide to Plastic Recycling

Expired Drugs and Proper Disposal

When it comes to prescription and over the counter drugs, proper disposal is important. Drugs should not merely be flushed down the toilet or put in the trash, for environmental and safety reasons. The Drug Enforcement Administration, in an effort to help reduce the danger of illegal use of prescription drugs, began National Drug Take Back Day. Held in October, information is provided to local law enforcement agencies that can help residents dispose of their medications safely. There are also MedReturn Drug collection locations across the country where you can take your expired drugs for safe disposal. You can find more information at http://medreturn.com.

Create a Clean-out Schedule

Cleaning out your medicine cabinet should be performed twice a year. You can attach this task to specific times of the year like Daylight Savings, July 4th or New Year’s Day can make it easier to remember. Remembering to do it when you check the batteries in your smoke detectors is another option. People who are ready to take control of all that they can by developing systems that make tasks easier can be difficult for some. However, if you are able to do so, you’ll find that you have more time to enjoy friends and family, and that small tasks will not turn into big ones later on.

Reference: Bathroom habits survey

Credit: Deidre Dolan Nesline, Founder of DeClutter by Deidre
DeClutter By Deirdre is committed to assisting people and their families who struggle with de-cluttering their homes so that they can enjoy a more stress-free life. To learn more visit their website at declutterbydeirdre.com