Frustration, anger, hurt feelings, lack of focus—just a few of the things writers deal with every day. Aggravating, isn't it? Well, before you smash your computer, read this and discover relief in a tiny brown bottle. No, not that bottle! I'm talking about essential oils. They can relieve or even prevent some of the annoyances that go hand in hand with being a writer. There are dozens upon dozens of essential oils and essential oil blends available, and you can usually find them at your local health food store, or you can order them online.
I'll share my favorites with you here, and I'll give you a few ideas for using them, but first some cautionary advice: With the exception of lavender and rose, never use an undiluted essential oil your skin. Some of them, particularly cinnamon, clove, and the citrus oils can actually cause burns.
Dilute your oils in a carrier oil, like coconut, almond, or jojoba. Even plain vegetable oil will do in a pinch. Mix 4 - 8 drops of essential oil in 2tsp of the carrier oil of your choice. I like jojoba oil because it has a longer shelf life. Some essential oils are phototropic, meaning they increase the risk of sunburn. It's best to stay indoors while using any of the citrus varieties. Don't use them on children's skin or in their bath. Kids can benefit from aromatherapy too, but it's best to use an oil burner or a diffuser, and of course, keep your oils out of the reach of little hands. Lastly, never take essential oils internally, whether they are diluted or not. They might smell good enough to eat, but some are toxic. Now that we've taken care of safety, let's take care of those annoying writer’s maladies.
The Citrus Oils: Lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange and tangerine. They are such cheerful scents, aren't they? The tangy aromas of these oils are uplifting, stimulating, cheering and restorative. Perfect for refreshing a tired mind. They can help give you that second wind you need for a writing session after a long, hard day at your regular job. I like a few whiffs of a sunny citrus oil in the morning with my coffee. It really helps clear those cobwebs! Best used in an oil burner.
Rose: Are you on edge because you haven't heard from your publisher? Feeling hurt over a bad review or a rejection letter? Does someone on Facebook’s news feed annoy the crap out of you? Try some rose oil! The gorgeous scent can relieve anxiety and fear, help with hurt feelings, and can bring you a feeling of peace, lover and well-being. It's ideal for depression, too. Pure rose oil is very expensive; a 15ml bottle can cost over 500 dollars!
Never fear, there are rose blends—rose oil pre-blended with a carrier oil—available, and these are less costly. Stay away from synthetic rose oil, though. The smell is sickly sweet and has no aromatherapeutic benefits. Safe to use on skin.
Lavender: Famous for its sleep inducing qualities, lavender is also good for relieving anxiety. Stressed out over deadlines? Can't seem to shut off your brain so you can sleep? Put a few drops of lavender oil on a cotton ball and tuck it into a corner of your pillow case or rub a little on the soles of your feet. It will help quiet all the chaos in your head so you can sleep. It's safe to use on your skin too. Good for bug bites, and minor cuts and scrapes.
Rosemary: "There's rosemary. That's for remembrance." Ophelia knew what she was talking about in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rosemary primes the memory pump! Are you always forgetting your passwords? Forgot how to do headers and footers on Word? Do you suffer from CRS syndrome? (That's short for Can't Remember Shit) Try a few good whiffs of rosemary once or twice a day. It jogs your memory and can also clear your thoughts.
Vetiver and Cedar: Do you have focus and attention issues? Staring out the window instead of working on the second draft of your novel? I'm famous for that! Try some vetiver or cedar oil! Blend some with the carrier oil of your choice and rub a few drops between your toes and on the back of your neck for better focus. You won't even notice those squirrels, ice cream trucks, and shiny things anymore! You'll be too busy and far too absorbed in your writing. A note about vetiver and cedar: Both of these oils have a strong, woodsy aroma, and the vetiver has an almost smoky scent. You may want to start off with just a drop of two in your carrier oil and adjust to your liking.
Methods of Use
There are several ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. The simplest way is to take the cap off the bottle and waft it under your nose while taking deep breaths. You can also smear a drop around the wick of a candle before lighting it. Diffusers are available in many styles and sizes, but the one I prefer requires just a tea light candle and a bit of water. The candle burns beneath a heat-proof basin filled with water and a few drops of your chosen oil. The flame heats the water, sending up tendrils of scented steam. These are perfect for a corner of your writing desk. Just be sure to keep an eye on the water level in the basin; don't let it run dry. Add more water and oils as necessary.
Here's an idea I thought up when I participated in National Novel Writer's Month last year: Put a few drops of undiluted essential oil on a cotton ball, then stick the cotton on the end of a piece of tape. Stick it to the side of your computer, right over the vent where the warm air blows out. Be careful not to block the vent, and don't get any oil on your computer as it can damage the plastic. The gentle warmth blowing from the vent will waft the oil's aroma around your work space. You have just turned your laptop into an aromatherapy machine.
I have been using essential oils for over twenty years and I have always had good results. I have dozens of bottles, but I keep my "writing oils" in a little box next to my computer. Used correctly, essential oils are safe and highly effective. They’re affordable too, and no prescription needed.
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