Essential Oils: Benefits and What to look for

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What is all the fuss about?

There are entire stores dedicated to scent whether it’s a candle, diffuser, skin lotion, body spray, massage oils etc, you name it, and chances are you’ll find it.  I think we can all agree that, at the very least, scents have an affect on us, good or bad.  You walk into a bakery and smell freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and you can’t wait to take that first bite.  Or your partner puts on their favourite scent and if you smell that scent somewhere you think of them.  How many times have you smelled something and said to yourself “that reminds me of….”  That is the power of aroma so let’s take a look a deeper look at it.  Aromatherapy can be defined as the use of essential oils for the purpose of holistic therapeutic healing and essential oils are derived from plants.  There are different ways to use essential oils and you can visit aromadina.com to find out more.

What you need to know

Whether you just like the scent or you’re looking at it as additional support for conditions, it’s important to know a few things before you buy essential oils.

 

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  • Remember to always consult your healthcare provider first before using essential oils.
  • Ingesting, or swallowing, essential oils is not recommended. Taken by mouth, the oils can damage the liver or kidneys. They can also lead to interactions with other drugs, and they can undergo unexpected changes while in the gut.
  • They should never be used directly on the skin but instead mixed with a carrier oil or lotion.
  • Make sure to do your research when shopping for essential oils. Watch out for the quality of the product. There are EO’s out there that are not pure.  They should be tightly sealed in dark glass bottles.  Read the label to make sure it doesn’t say “fragrance” oil.  Fragrance oils will have synthetic ingredients or extenders.  It won’t contain the essential parts of real plants.
  • The quality also depends on the plants that were used which can be affected by weather, growing conditions and whether pesticides or other chemicals were used. Processing and packaging are also factors.
  • Read the label to check that the Latin name of the plant being used is clearly stated, which part(s) of the plant was used, how it was extracted and how it was grown.

Some Common Essential Oils and their Uses:

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  • Basil essential oil is used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. It may relieve headaches and migraines. It should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Bergamot essential oil is said to be useful for the urinary tract and digestive tract. When combined with eucalyptus oil it may help relieve skin problems, including those caused by stress and chicken pox.
  • Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.
  • Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema.
  • Citronella essential oil is a relative of lemongrass and acts as an insect repellent.
  • Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.
  • Geranium essential oil can be use for skin problems, to reduce stress, and as a mosquito repellant.
  • Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odor of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness.
  • Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.
  • Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood, and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.
  • Rosemary essential oil may promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.
  • Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses, but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.
  • Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
  • Yarrow essential oil is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and to help reduce joint inflammation.

At Home Fitness: Expectations vs. Reality

At Home Fitness

Why do we want to get fit at home?

Everyday we are challenged with the busyness of life: taking care of our families, going to work or school, taking care of our home, making time for friends, the list goes on. But how do we take care of ourselves? One vital component is physical exercise. The list of benefits is endless but, in a nutshell, it promotes strong muscles and bones. It improves respiratory and cardiovascular health. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and reduce your risk for some cancers. Exercise can help with your mental well being too. So now, how do we achieve these goals with at-home fitness?

What are your at-home fitness goals?

For those who have already begun the journey, the challenge right now may be how to get fit at home. For those just getting started, the additional challenge may be what to do, how to get started. For everyone, I think it’s important to remember the why behind what you’re doing. Setting goals- a vision for yourself will keep you on track.

 

How to get fit at home?

Everyone’s goals are different and most importantly we must remember to not compare ourselves to anyone else. The only comparisons we should be making is between workouts or within the goals you set out for yourself. We are all unique and therefore to compare yourself to someone else will be fruitless and frustrating. Write down your goals to help keep you on track and stay focused on your vision for yourself. In these times, when you’re trying to get fit at home, perhaps a different set of goals is needed because the challenge will be- how do I achieve my goals without the resources I had before the lockdown? Changing your goals, even if it’s temporary, is okay. If you’re used to working out at a gym where you had all the resources and equipment at your disposal, your challenge may be to let go of the goals you had set out for yourself pre-pandemic and setting new goals for your fitness at home.

How do I achieve at-home fitness?

If you already have equipment, great! But for some, the option of equipment may be out of the question because of lack of space or because buying equipment is too expensive. So, for cardiovascular fitness, walking, running or biking outdoors is a great way to work towards your goal. If can’t do any of these there are options like walking or running up and down a staircase (tip: gradually add weight to make it more challenging), or dancing to your favorite tunes. And, since you are at home you can check out the enormous library of online workouts that are geared to suit your needs and your goals without the use of equipment.

 

Fitness At Home

Strength training at home is achievable you just have to get creative if you want to use equipment. Ever thought of things like jugs of water, bags of rice, cans of food, or even kitty litter? Yes!! All these things can be used for weight training. I bet your wondering “I don’t have a cat so why would I buy kitty litter?” Well, along with doing yourself some good you can do your local animal shelter some good too! When you are back to your normal routine at the gym you can donate anything you don’t need.  Click here if you’re interested in building strength

But remember it’s not always the amount of weight that makes an exercise challenging or stimulates muscle growth. Using lighter weight correctly will cause that muscle to burn!! Try this, take a weight (whatever it may be) and really slow down the movement. There are a couple of ways to do this. If an average count for a bench press (for example) is 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down, then try a 4 second count up and 2 seconds down. Try the opposite or slow down the count for both up and down. The idea here is, to use a variety of counts to challenge your muscles AND always change it up. Your muscles have a memory so they will adapt quickly to an exercise. So, the goal is to change the way a muscle is challenged and if you can’t do it by increasing the weight you use because you don’t have that option then change the intensity of the exercise by changing the speed with which you do it.

There are a variety of strengthening exercises that just require your own bodyweight. And, believe me, when done correctly they are incredibly challenging. You can checkout examples of exercises online.

Fitness at Home – How do I get started?

If you are just starting on your  at-home fitness journey, the important thing to remember is to start out slow and build up. If you start out too aggressively chances are you will quit because you will be sore and feel horrible. Keep a journal so you can track your progress, be accountable and stay focused. Always start by a warming up. This could be a light walk or even dancing. A warmup will allow the blood to start flowing to the muscles and lubricate the joints in preparation for the demands you will be placing on your body. It is also a good idea to do some stretching before and after.