How to Keep Calm at Work Using Essential Oils

Photo: Marija Savic via Stocksy

After a life-changing aromatherapy massage treatment, Hope Gillerman became essential-oils obsessed. It not only taught her how to retrain her muscles, but how to treat her entire body better—from her diet to her beauty routine. Gillerman then went on to form her own integrated practice, in which she continues to heal clients through holistic treatments using essential oils (which she makes and sells herself under H.Gillerman Organics). Her new book, Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty comes out this week. This featured excerpt gives you tips on getting calm and focused at work, even after a hectic Memorial Day weekend.

To save you time and get instant relief, inhaling essential oils will be your go-to method throughout your workday. If you’re really pressed for time and can’t fit in one of these daytime rituals, just apply some oils to your neck, your throat, the tops of your shoulders, and your chest, and let the inhalation begin!

For a quick desk break

Sit back in your chair, resting your elbows on the chair arms. Place a drop of a single 100 percent essential oil (lavender, peppermint, and/or lemon) into your palms and rub them together. Cup your palms over your face, and do six slow breathing inhalations with your eyes closed.

To freshen up your office

Keep a wine glass or brandy snifter on your desk and tap a few droplets of your favorite 100 percent single essential oil or oil blend into the glass. (While they sit on your desk, the oils in them evaporate gradually, like a passive diffuser.) Your daytime blend can be whatever puts you in a good mood without slowing you down (use lemon, peppermint, or lavender, or create a perfect daytime blend for you). If you need a slow breathing inhalations break, just breathe in from the glass.

For daytime meditation

Put a drop of 100 percent essential oil (use frankincense or cedarwood, or for sensitive skin use the perfume oil recipe) on the tip of each index finger. Anoint key acupoints on your face, such as your temples, the inside edges of your eyebrows, and in front of your ears (this is a jaw tension release point). Place your fingertips lightly on each point, not massaging but gently resting there. After five seconds, make very slow, tiny circles to soothe the nervous system. To prolong this mindful moment, sit back, rest the backs of your hands in your lap, and practice slow breathing inhalations, making sure you completely exhale first and watching the movement of your body as the breaths travel in and out. Reapply the oil before the inhalations if needed.

To wake up and focus

Place a drop of a decongesting 100 percent essential oil (use tea tree, eucalyptus, or niaouli) at the opening of each nostril to clear your breathing passages. Then anoint your sinus-clearing facial acupoints to increase alertness. Put a few drops of a stimulating blend on the back of your neck.

After, sit at the front edge of your chair, clasp your hands together, and cradle the back of your head in your hands. Stretch your neck and your spine by lifting the back of your head with your hands. You will find you are now sitting quite straight but not stiffly, and your abdominal muscles will be tighter and your breathing easier. Use the oils as needed to remind you to breathe and sit well.

For a tension break

On each side of your neck, your shoulders, and your lower back, smooth ¼ teaspoon of a muscle-relaxing dilution oil. Push your chair back from your desk. Sit with your arms folded genie-style and rest them on the front edge of your desk. Elongate your spine as you bend forward to rest your forehead heavily on your forearms. Focus on relaxing your neck as you rest.

How to sit for long periods, if you must, to stay focused and pain-free

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve taught to do this, and how much it helps them to avoid fatigue and back pain while it also aids digestion, facilitates deep breathing, and keeps the mind alert. In short, it’s your best option if you can’t stand. Once you learn how to sit correctly, it will take a second for your body to adjust. Make sure you don’t force anything. Every time I do this, I say to myself, “Hey, you, why didn’t you do this sooner? This is so much better.” I guarantee, once you begin practicing this posture every day, your body will loosen up without effort. Yay!!!

1. Take your hands off your keyboard and push away from your desk. Adjust the seat of your chair so your hips are above the level of your knees—this will keep your hip muscles from cramping.

2. To adjust your body position, first move to the front edge of your chair, with your feet on the ground, feeling your sitting bones right underneath your ears. Clasp your hands behind your back and squeeeeeeeze your shoulders together to get rid of the rounding in your upper back. Lift your chest if you need to feel more of a stretch. Bring your chin to your chest to stretch the back of your neck.

3. Release your hands and move your keyboard closer to you so that you can touch the keys while keeping your elbows alongside your torso and bent at a 90-degree angle. This may feel much lower and closer than you would think.

4. Adjust your screen so that you are looking slightly down (especially if you are wearing progressive lenses), but beware: most of us sit with our heads pushing toward the screen. Please don’t do this. It hurts!

5. Add an essential oil lift: Apply an essential oil dilution (using a pain-relief treatment oil) to your neck and shoulders, clasps your hands, and cradle the back of your neck, right underneath the base of your skull, lifting to stretch your neck and straighten your spine. Stretch your elbows farther apart to open and lift your chest. Ahhh, now you can breathe. If your back gets tired, move your hips all the way back in your chair, put a cushion or folded-up towel behind your upper or lower back, whichever feels more comfortable, and lean your whole back against the chair. This should feel fantastic.

From Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty by Hope Gillerman. Copyright ©2016 by Hope Gillerman, published by HarperElixir, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

A few more back-to-work boosts for you: How to ooze confidence on the job, eight ways to conquer job stress, and genius tips from super-successful female entrepreneurs.

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