Thursday, February 18, 2016

Aromatherapy and Self-Care for Nurses

In a previous post I mentioned that I use essential oils in preparation for my bedside nursing shifts. I began using essential oils nearly four years ago. I was introduced to Lavender and Tea Tree oils for use with the washing process when i began using cloth diapers with our youngest son. It was a pretty basic introduction, but my interests grew from there. Soon, I had friends and family asking for my suggestions in the use of essential oils for everything from sore muscles and headaches to improving sleep and skin care. As a nurse, I felt the need for further education in the topic of aromatherapy so that I could make informed recommendations. Last spring, I enrolled with the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy and began studying under the direction of a very knowledgeable holistic nurse and aromatherapy expert.  I guess you could say that aromatherapy was my introduction to the world of holistic nursing.

Today, I thought I would introduce a few of the essential oils that I utilize frequently to support my role as a holistic nurse and the methods of application.

I have made a combination of Angelica, Ylang Ylang, Juniper, and Cedarwood oils in distilled water as a body spray. This is a great combination for first thing in the morning as it helps keep me centered and grounded.

When work gets crazy, and I am starting to feel overwhelmed, I find a moment to slip into the lounge and apply a roll-on blend of Rosemary, Peppermint, and Sweet Orange essential oils diluted in fractionated coconut oil. If I have time, I like to combine this with a 1-2 minute deep breathing exercise to allow for the full effect of these oils. Rosemary is great for stress and is uplifting. Peppermint is also nice for stress and is useful in promoting concentration and mental clarity. Orange has been shown to be beneficial for anxiety and nervousness as it helps to promote relaxation. I find this combination very refreshing. It really helps me get through the rest of the shift and to feel balanced and focused. The great perk of a topical application is that you will periodically catch the scent as the oils are absorbed and evaporate from your skin. Your patients are likely to benefit from this blend also. I made holiday gifts for my nursing peers and included this blend in a mist bottle along with a few other treats. For the next several weeks, the nursing unit was scented with this combination, and the mood throughout the unit was much improved.

After a long and busy day, a soak for my tired feet is always nice. I often see peppermint epsom salt soak in stores. While peppermint can be nice and refreshing, I prefer a blend of Lavender, Geranium, and Ylang Ylang for the relaxing and soothing benefits to my tired feet. It is a great way to unwind and prepare for bed after a long shift or two. Even better than a foot soak is a full bath with dim lighting and relaxing music.

I love incorporating aromatherapy for self-care and for many more every day uses for my family. From deodorant and lip balm to cleaning solutions and fighting off sickness. Do you have a favorite essential oil? Mine is Lavender because it is so diverse in its benefits. How do you use aromatherapy? Self-care, during your shift, or in some other way? If you are not familiar with aromatherapy, I hope that this post has provided a starting point for further research. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about how essential oils and aromatherapy can support your nursing care.

With love and gratitude,
April, RN