de-stressing: lavender oil

bottles of lavender oil, soap, & lotion

Being cold makes me cranky, so mostly I hate winter. Before Halloween even rolls around, I've already channeled my inner Dane (and I am part-Danish) to create a nest full of hygge—cozy comfort—by lighting candles, clicking on (all the) table lights, piling on blankets, fluffing up pillows, wearing thick socks and sweaters, pulling curtains closed, turning up the heat, cooking soups, making tea and hot chocolate, reading books, watching mysteries and comedies, stroking my sleepy cat.

At the same time, recurring anxieties about money and right livelihood don't exactly fit well into a cozy domestic scene. But this winter such thoughts have been pressing in even more than usual as I'm in the process of reconfiguring the big picture of my life and what direction to go from here, with the embodied knowledge as a cancer survivor that life really is short and there is still so much to do.

So in trying to figure all this out, I've been doing more yoga, journaling, brainstorming, and reading across genres for inspiration, including books about meditation (because that's much easier than actually meditating). But when coziness, self-help, and deep breathing are not enough, or even when all that is enough but I still need to go to sleep quickly or de-stress fast at work, I've been turning to the magical medicinal properties of lavender oil.

I have a big lavender plant growing in a pot outside, plus dried lavender stems in my closet and in floral sachets amid my sweaters. And this fall I had switched to using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap in lavender (instead of unscented) as both body soap and shampoo, making my shower time extra fragrant and relaxing. Even my current hand lotion is scented with lavender oil. Just before bed, I've also been opening a bottle of lavender essential oil and dousing my wrists and neck for a burst of aromatherapy. The strong scent coming off my skin soothes me to sleep—aided by a dose of melatonin. 

And if you don't like the scent of lavender, maybe because it reminds you of old ladies with white hair, why not try a different essential oil? Sometimes all we need is to start a new daily ritual, a placebo action like applying body lotion or cracking open a book before bed. Whatever works to feel better, right?

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