The festive season is here again, and we look forward to end-of-year celebrations, parties and get-togethers with family and friends. As the days grow shorter and the year winds to a close, we gather together to reminisce and to share our hopes for the year ahead. Yet, this time of year often brings increased stress–with event planning and preparation, whirlwind shopping excursions, balancing obligations between work and home, and many other physical and mental demands of the season.

How to stay sane throughout this busy time and, at the same time, calmly look ahead and feel inspired and renewed by the promise that the New Year will bring? 

Aromatherapy and essential oils can help create an environment of festive joy for your family as well as calmness, serenity and balance for yourself. One category of essential oils that I recommend for easing the pressures of the holiday season are the wood oils–cedarwood, pine, spruce, sandalwood, hinoki, cypress and juniper. These are powerful, grounding oils that nature has provided to keep us calm, centered and confident throughout this busy time.

Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica) is the oil of choice to use in the diffuser to create a warm, comforting and convivial atmosphere at home. Historically, cedarwood Atlas was used in religious ceremonies for prayer and meditation. It is known to promote cerebral activity and clear thinking while simultaneously relaxing mind and body. Other cedarwood oils include Himalayan cedarwood (Cedrus deodara) and Texas cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) which has the aroma of just-sharpened pencils. All cedarwoods are anti-microbial, rendering them excellent oils for the respiratory system and for keeping winter ailments at bay.

Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is another essential oil that comes to life during the holiday season. The oil is distilled from the heartwood and has the traditional “Christmas tree” smell. The essential oil has an invigorating, uplifting aroma, and clears the mind of stress, helping to eliminate fatigue, enhancing focus and concentration, and instilling a positive outlook. Hemlock spruce (Tsuga canadensis) comes from Canada, as its plant name suggests, and is a soothing oil diffused as a nerve tonic and to boost the immune system. It has a sweet, green, crisp aroma that transports one to wintry walking trails through towering conifers in a magical snow-covered forest!

During the holiday season, try to escape for a day or so to one of our surrounding mountain areas and experience a peaceful afternoon of ‘forest bathing’ amid these amazing trees. Find a fallen pinecone or two and sprinkle your essential oils on them to act as a natural home diffuser throughout the season. Cedar, pine and spruce are wonderful oils to eliminate stale ‘after-party’ odors and will impart a fresh, outdoors aroma to your home, in addition to their natural health benefits. All wood oils blend well with citrus oils (sweet orange is particularly festive) as well as spice oils like cinnamon and clove. 

Integrating essential oils into your daily life during this time can bring a renewed appreciation of life and an increased sense of wellbeing, with gratitude for all the gifts of the season.

Julia Meadows has spent 35 years in the essential oil industry and is the founder of Aromax Health and Sub Rosa Apothecary in La Quinta. She can be reached at (760) 831.8333 or [email protected].

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