New year, new you, right? This time of year, we’re all feeling shiny and new, refreshed and excited to take charge of our lives once more.
While I’m given to being a little cynical about New Year’s resolutions—who’s to say self-reinvention is limited only to the beginning of something as arbitrary at the Gregorian calendar, after all — it’s still nice to be reminded every so often to check in with ourselves and see how we’re doing.
One of my goals for 2020 is to live more mindfully.
We live at such a breakneck speed anyway—chasing careers, living in the big city. Slowing down might be a huge buzzword in the world of wellness, but I’m a firm believer that our environments have a huge effect upon our overall mood and wellbeing.
Instagram-worthy bedrooms and vanity tables aside, it’s nice to have a place, a corner, a room that feels your own. And if mindfulness is the act of being aware of your present moment, there’s nothing so grounding as the scent of a room or an object.
This is where aromatherapy and essential oils came in.
I won’t lie—the idea of essential oils was sold to me, part and parcel of an “aesthetic” life. After all, who doesn’t like a nice smell—or rather, something that smells nice to them? You notice scents right away in a different way than you would process a new piece of furniture, for example. If you walk into a room and it smells musty, you notice. Likewise if the scent is pleasant.
Broadly speaking, aromatherapy is simply the use of good-smelling oils to improve overall well-being. The best part is, you can customize it because let’s face it—the funny thing about smell is that what smells good to one may smell terrible to another. Commercialization of wellness aside, I decided to embark on an “essential oil journey” to see if it really helped with the whole mindfulness thing, and enjoy some physical comforts as well.
Here’s what I tried:
Diffusing essential oils are a great way to fill a room with scent as well as ambience. Plus, there are some purported health benefits as well—different plants promote different benefits. Lavender, for example, is good for calming so it’s perfect for bedtime.
I used the diffuser for a few hours each day or evening, diffusing some essential oils from Muji.
The ones I used were the Yuzu essential oil and a blend of Sky, which was just Lavender and Mint essential oils mixed together. I also had a Saje holiday blend from Christmas, which included a blend of pine and lemon scents, among other oils. It was nice to have some of the festive spirit still hanging around (in the air, literally), but the Sky one was my favourite as it wasn’t too strong and overbearing and gave my room a bit of an at-home spa feel. Meanwhile, the Yuzu scent was the perfect addition to my morning routine since the citrus-y scent was invigorating—great for when I hadn’t had my morning caffeine yet.
With their popularity now, diffusers are easy to find if you want to nab one for yourself.
Note: There is such a holy trinity of “aesthetic” diffusers: Saje, Vitruvi and Muji. If the price points are a bit too high, you can consider the other trinity: Winners, Marshalls and Homesense.
Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin. Roll-ons were made especially for this purpose, because it eliminates the mess and are easy to take on the go. Who doesn’t want a mini-spa experience in their handbag?
My favourite product for this purpose—and one that I’d heard many of my friends recommend—is Saje’s Peppermint Halo.
Nearly everyone has heard of this one and it’s not just for headaches, I used it for muscle soreness or whenever I felt a bit sluggish at work. Just roll a few strokes up the back of the neck into the scalp and the effects are almost immediate. For me, it was almost similar to the Tiger Balm or White Flower Oil of my Asian childhood — always pulled out for any aches or pains.
Other aromatherapy and essential oil therapies include baths or massages, but in the end, diffusers and roll-ons were the most seamless to add into my existing lifestyle. (I’m not really a bath person, for one thing.)
In the end, essential oils are an enjoyable add-on to everyday life, but it’s also worth noting that that’s what they are—an add-on.
If I have a headache and all I do is apply peppermint oil without, say, drinking any water (because realistically, I’m probably dehydrated) then my headache is not going to get much better.
All this to say that essential oils are a great way to add a little “something”—whether that be mindfulness, a nice smell—into your life. After all, smell is one of the most underrated senses and has a huge impact on our enjoyment of products and general wellbeing. I know for me, making the time to doing something so small, even if it is just for the sake of pure enjoyment and frivolity—in the end, it’s the little things that count.
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