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Finding Calm at the Centre of the Covid-Storm

It's okay to be scared or worried at a time like this, the world is going through something monumental together. We are receiving conflicting reports from the media, and there's this unsettling vibration as we all struggle to come to grips with an unknown timeline until we're "released" back to normal life. We need to hold space to experience and voice those troubling emotions in order to acknowledge and move past them. As we clear away old negative thoughts and feelings, we create the space for positive and harmonious energies to enter. It's time to release any suppressed emotions, heal old wounds, it's a time for renewal, a time of profound and positive transformations - it is spring after all.

It's also a time to remind ourselves exactly why we sought out the healing and supportive qualities of essential oils. And if you haven't opened yourself up to essential oils, perhaps now is the time to find out which oils speak to you. So how can you support yourself when going through the incredible array of emotions we are experiencing right now? Anyone who is lucky enough to have essential oils in their lives knows that they can have immediate and profound therapeutic effects on mood, emotions and behaviour. Not to get all sciencey on you, but this field of study is called aromatherapy for a reason. The chemicals that make up scent are the only molecules that bypass the blood-brain barrier and interact directly with the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is an old part of the brain, evolutionarily-speaking, and is also referred to as the rhinencephalon (the only reason I'm even mentioning this is because it's referred to as the smell-brain!) - and it's responsible for mood, emotions and behaviour. So, take an "aroma" (insert essential oil, baking cookie smell, fresh flowers), put those incredible smells up in your brain to trigger positive mood, emotions and reinforce behaviours - and there you go, "therapy"!

When I'm meeting with my clients and the conversation turns to stress, worry and anxiety, we often talk about breath and how important it can be during times of anxiety. Some of us might be experiencing signs and symptoms of anxiety without even knowing what we're feeling. Scattered thoughts, reduced attention span, disturbed sleeping patterns, excessive worry, trouble focusing. Some may even be one step further along and experiencing panic attacks as they struggle to come to grips with their feelings. Fast or shallow breathing, increased heart rate, increased perspiration, crying, strong emotions, feeling helpless, etc. By learning to work with our breath, by using deep breathing for calming and relaxation, you can harness those feelings and learn to recognize them, and then see which essential oils give you that same feeling when inhaled.

At-home exercise to connect with your breath:

Get yourself comfortable, sitting on the ground or in a comfy chair, then gently waft an essential oil under your nose, back and forth between both nostrils while inhaling deeply. Close your eyes so you can connect with the scent without other senses interfering. How does the oil make you feel? Does it allow you to settle into yourself, to feel more grounded or centred in yourself? Does it help to ease your tension and stress?

In my practice, each person reacts differently to every single essential oil, and you will too - depending on current mood and emotional state. An oil that is stress-reducing and calming for one person might not be for the next. It's important to listen to what the oils are trying to tell you.

Here are some essential oils that many people have on hand and are reasonably priced. They are uplifting, cheery, antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety). When choosing oils to manage stress, worry and anxiety, you want to choose oils that activate the parasympathetic response and shift your central nervous system into 'rest, repair and digest'. Here are some of my favourites lately:

  • All the Citrus oils (Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mandarin, Lime, etc.)!!

  • Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora ct. linalol) - a favourite of mine for worry, anxiety and sleep. The incredibly high content of linalol makes it a magical oil, anti-anxiety for sure, but also amazing for long-term immune support. When our brains are working overtime on worry & anxiety, it's even more important to focus on supporting our immune systems.

  • Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) - calming for the central nervous system. Energetically, sweet marjoram can help calm obsessive thinking and support self care.

  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) or May Chang (Litsea cubeba) - any oil that contains a high concentration of citral can be sedative in effect. Not in the sleepy (soporific) sense, but in a calming and rejuvenating sense. A drop of lemongrass or may chang often sneak into anxiety blends for my clients, and they're always surprised by how much they enjoy the scent and how it settles their breath.

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - it has a reputation for a reason, enough said.

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) & Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) - these 2 essential oils are amazing for anxiety, but they are cost-prohibitive for many, and aren't as accessible outside of the professional aromatherapy field.

Safety Alert!

When blending for yourself and others, always keep safety top of mind.

  • Phototoxicity: a light-induced reaction to photoactive substances requiring contact with the photoactive substance and subsequent exposure to strong UV/sunlight. Always keep dilution guidelines close at hand when blending with bergamot (1 drop in 30ml), and cold-pressed lime (4 drops in 30ml), cold-pressed bitter orange (8 drops in 30ml), cold-pressed lemon (12 drops in 30ml), and cold-pressed grapefruit (24 drops in 30ml).

  • Safe dilutions for skin: This is especially important for the oils listed above that contain citral, which is irritating to both the skin and mucous membranes. Maximum dermal application for citral is recommended as 0.6% or 4-5 drops in 30ml (Tisserand).


Diffusers are certainly how I fell in love with oils at the beginning of my journey. When I blend for clients, I typically make a synergy in a 5ml bottle, then add the appropriate number of drops of that synergy to whatever I'm making (e.g. Lotion, body oil, inhaler, etc.). If it's an individual blend for something like anxiety, I'll often give them the remainder of the bottle to diffuse at home. And if they don't have a diffuser - well something as simple as a tissue works ;)

Now when we're being asked to stay home, what better way to relax and connect with ourselves than having a bath! The luxury of a bath (if you're lucky enough to have a bathtub in your home) is a lost relaxation art. Mix up a cup of salts with some carrier oil (jojoba, sunflower, meadowfoam, fractionated coconut) and a few drops of the beautiful anti-anxiety synergy blend you've concocted. Light some candles, read a good book, play some music - and most importantly take some deep relaxing breaths. And if you don't have a bathtub, take a nice warm shower and add a single drop of essential oil to the shower floor, the scent that wafts up will be heavenly.

Current events are being driven by invisible healing forces of energy and nature. Love and light everyone. Take a walk in nature today, breathe in life and the beautiful essential oils that mother nature has blessed us with.

Namaste and virtual hugs - Love, Sabrina

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