13 Reasons You Need a Diffuser Necklace (And What To Put In It)

 

This post started out with five reasons and I just couldn’t stop.

My passion for aromatherapy has really skyrocketed since I started using Young Living essential oils.  I not only smell the difference, but I feel a difference.  Wearing aromatherapy jewelry has taken it to a whole other level of obsession.

I’ve had my diffuser necklace for about three months now and my only regret is that I didn’t get one sooner.  I wear it as often as possible, change the insert (felt, cork, leather, and other fabrics work) and oils according to my mood, my energy level, and whatever essential oil is my current obsession (Frankincense at the moment).

About the only time I don’t wear it is while working (as a massage therapist).  We all like different scents and have different emotional needs/scent memories and I don’t put mine ahead of my client’s during their session.

Here are 13 reasons you NEED a diffuser necklace and my thoughts on what to put inside.

  1. Because Peppermint Essential Oil puts a little pep in your step and you might just make it to the gym today.
  2. Because gray skies are easier to ignore thanks to the aromatic effects of citrus oils such Lemon, Grapefruit, and this amazing blend called Citrus Fresh.
  3. Because you’re kinda stinky today…Patchouli.
  4. Because the line at the grocery checkout is SO long and maybe a little Peace and Calming will chill you out.
  5. Because work/coworkers…maybe try White Angelica to clear the negative energy.
  6. Because you LOVE Christmas Season and want to smell like it.
  7. Because your entire extended family will be there and it’s gonna get crazy.  Try Lavender or Sandalwood
  8. Because you have teenagers in your house…Stress Away.
  9. Because you’re dealing with some emotional stuff right now and can use all the help you can get…Trauma Life, Sacred Frankincense.  (Hang in there.  This too shall pass.)
  10. Morning sickness is not fun…and everything smells weird when you’re pregnant.  Try DiGize, Ginger, or Peppermint.
  11. Because synthetic fragrance is something you know you don’t want in your life.
  12. Because using the power of scent to affect your limbic system (within your brain and controls emotion and hormones) is totally awesome.
  13. Because you love your diffuser and your oils and want to take them everywhere!  (Like me!)

If you’re wondering where to get diffuser jewelry, there are lots of online options.  I try to keep them in stock at my studio.  Also, I’ve heard that you can find them at craft fairs.

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5 Fast Fixes for Neck And Shoulder Pain: From a Massage Therapist

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Sometimes I think that our modern lives are designed to cause neck and shoulder pain.  At least 75% of my clients specifically ask for extra work on their neck and shoulders.  Some of the causes or contributors to the literal pain in our neck are:

  • Driving: because we’re all hunched a little forward with hands on the wheel
  • Texting/Cell Phone Viewing (forward neck posture)
  • Sitting at a Desk
  • Lack of Movement: because we all need to move our shoulders and cervical spine through their full range of motion, as they are designed to do, or else we’ll get stiff and weakened muscles which can lead to frozen shoulder, deterioration, and pain
  • Sleeping in a position that is out of natural alignment
  • Shoveling Snow (or other repetitive, straining effort)

See what I mean?  It’s stuff we do all the time.  And then, for some of us, it’s where we naturally hold our tension.  It seems to me that our daily routines leave all of us with tightness, pain, and range of motion problems here.  Today, I thought I’d share some tips on working out these “knots” and relieving your pain.

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  1. Yoga- yoga is my #1 suggestion for anyone who wants to feel better. Here is a short video of chair yoga for the neck and upper back. In case you are thinking that you’re too tight/too heavy/too old or whatever excuse you come up with, I promise, there is some type of yoga you can do!  The library has DVDs.  Chair yoga is a good place to start.  I know that when you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is move, but if your doctor says that you have the go-ahead to get some exercise, to go to physical therapy, to try stretching/strengthening, then yoga- which is literally moving with breath- can make a big difference in how you feel, how you move, and your quality of life.
  2. Ice/Heat- If you just injured yourself, ice is the way to go.  If you’re just stiff and tight, heat will bring more circulation and loosen things up.  A heated neck and shoulder pad may become your new favorite thing.  (This one is electric.  This one is microwavable or can be put in the freezer, and it costs less.)
  3. Tennis Ball Magic- put 2 tennis balls into a tube sock and tie the end up.  Lie on the floor and place this under your neck/at the base of your skull, between your shoulder blades.  Move around gently, turning and finding just the spot.
  4. Blanket Roll- take a throw blanket, yoga blanket, or large towel and fold it, probably into quarters or basically a 3 foot long rectangle.  Roll it up tightly.  Placing it on the floor under your spine, lengthwise, then lie down on it.  Now that the blanket roll is completely supporting your spine (and you can allow your head to drop off the roll if that’s comfortable), your legs can either be bent or straight, whichever feels better.  Spread your arms out to the sides and turn your palms up.  Breath deeply and rest here allowing your chest muscles to relax and heart space to open.  Alternately, you can lie in bed, on your back, near the edge and allow your shoulder and arm to hang over the edge.  Just make sure to switch position to stretch out the other side of your chest so that you’re evenly stretched.
  5. Massage- just 30 minutes is a great option if you want to get to those spots that you just can’t quite get to on your own.  Schedule a 30 or 60 minutes session and let your LMT know you just want to focus on neck and shoulders.  You won’t even have to take off all your clothes. Personally, I really love these sessions and enjoy knowing that I’m helping to really improve my clients’ lives by releasing the neck/shoulder muscles.  Even getting a short chair massage can make all the difference in your day. neck-and-shoulder-massage

Be well my friends.  Take good, loving care of your body.  It’s the only one you’ve got.

 

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Scandinavian Beauty & Health Secret: Dry Brushing Your Skin

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(*Photo credit: http://blog.freepeople.com/2014/06/beauty-rituals-benefits-dry-body-brushing/)

Itchy, flakey, dry, and dull skin; it seems like a winter time given, right?  Particularly here in the frozen tundra, I mean, Cleveland area, where it’s cold and snowy for months and months.  My solution used to be to just load up on body lotion, but then I discovered this little secret-  from women who live where it’s way colder and snowier.

I was introduced to the idea of dry brushing years before I actually tried it.  I was watching a television show about living someplace frozen most of the year, somewhere in Scandinavia.  Apparently, Scandinavian women don’t just jump in the shower and scrub up with soapy washcloth.  Instead, before they bathe or enter a sauna, they spend a little time dry brushing their skin with a natural bristle brush.  This has the effect of sloughing off and exfoliating the dead, dry skin, improving the circulation of blood and lymph, which helps to detoxify and nourish the skin cells, and it feels great to boot!  So, you’re actually cleaner inside & out.  What’s not to love, right?!

Here’s What Dry Brushing Does & Why You Need to Try It

  • Exfoliates dead skin cells
  • Stimulates blood circulation (to nourish skin with oxygen and nutrients & get your glow on)
  • Stimulates lymphatic flow (to remove toxins from cells)
  • Decreases the appearance of cellulite
  • Feels really good (especially over the itchy places like the back of your hips and shoulder blades) and it can increase the feel-good hormones while decreasing the stress hormones
10+ years old and still in great condition
10+ years old and still in great condition

I will admit, my first reaction was to pish-posh this idea, but now, after more than ten years of incorporating dry brushing into my winter and spring routine, I can’t imagine my life without this short, pre-shower ritual.   I try to fit my dry brushing in at least once or twice (not more than 3x) a week during the winter and throughout  Spring.  I love the feeling of a good scrub, the glow, and the added benefit of getting the lymph flowing to boost my immune system.  Not only that, but it’s like getting the best back scratch, EVER.   I highly recommend it!

Skin Brushing Basics

  1. Buy a quality, natural bristle brush.  The higher the quality, the better it will feel (softer bristles) and the longer it will last.  I’ve had my body brush for more than 10 years and it’s still in great shape.  I wash my brush now and then, allow it to dry completely, and store it in a cabinet when not in use so it won’t get icky.
  2. Throw a towel down on the floor to catch the dry skin that you’ll be brushing off.  Gross, I know.
  3. Undress & grab your brush.
  4. Use a gentle hand and brush in circles or strokes moving toward the heart.  Here are the detailed instructions:
    1. Brush in small circles, starting with the bottom of your feet and moving up the legs, and over the hips. Circle from left to right (following the intestines) over the belly.  Swipe up sides towards armpits.
    2. Swipe or make circles from hands, up arms towards armpits (where there lots of lymph nodes).
    3. Brush your back from center out towards armpits.
    4. Brush around your breasts (I avoid nipples) and very gently across chest from center towards armpits.
    5. Finish by brushing neck gently from chin towards heart.
  5. You may want to scrub hard, but don’t.  You’ll make your skin hurt.   If you’re a sensitive type, you may actually feel like the brush is too intense.  If that’s the case, ease up on the brush, starting slow and building up how often you use it until it feels good.  It may take a little getting used to.
  6. Now you can take a shower as you normally would, but be less aggressive when washing up.
  7. After you dry off – Moisturize all over with a natural body lotion or oil.
    1. *Please read the ingredients on your moisturizer/lotion.  All of the typical drugstore/retail brands use petroleum (petrolatum) as a base.  Petroleum is a likely carcinogen (cancer causing) and has been correlated to breast cancer .  (YES, I know it’s FDA approved, but it is not healthy.)  Also, please be aware that fragrance means synthetic chemicals that can cause not only skin problems like rashes, but also breathing problems such as asthma, and it also disrupts your hormones (endocrine system) and can affect our bodies in ways you’d never suspect such as increased PMS symptoms, infertility, and more.

If you, like me, find it hard to enjoy winter…the dry air, the bitter cold, itchy skin, the lack of sunlight blues, etc., I hope that you try this out.  You may just discover a new winter ritual to make you feel like a million-glowing-bucks.

Stay warm & stay well, my friends.

Love,

Anna

P.S.  I’d love to hear what you think after your first dry brushing.  Email me.

 

 

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My Top 10 Most Loved Essential Oils + Easy Ways to Use Them

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In my home, we go through a lot of essential oils.  On any given day oils are a part of my morning routine, sometimes my lunch, my afternoon pick-me-up, post-workout self-care, my jewelry (aromatherapy), and more.  Here are my current favorites and some easy ways to incorporate them into your life.

  1. Lavender – a member of the mint family, it is my most favorite scent and I add a few drops to massage oil, to unscented face and body lotion, diffuse it to create calmness and promote happiness, apply to scars/burns, and put a few drops on my wool dryer balls to lightly scent my laundry.
  2. Peppermint – Ah, the most refreshing oil of all…I use this anytime I feel nauseated or have an upset tummy, diffuse it alone or with other oils such as lavender or R.C. to energize me, rub a drop between my hands and inhale to open sinuses and bronchi, and add a drop to a smoothie to make it a peppermint “shake.”
  3. Frankincense – is an essential part of my skin care routine and I wear it as perfume, diffuse it, and add it to my diffuser necklace or bracelet.
  4. Lemon – is amazing in tea, added to tuna salad, pasta, and it’s scent is so uplifting and joyful.
  5. Oregano – I like to put a couple of drops in empty gel capsules and take this as an immunity booster before bed and I find it very comforting.
  6. Tea Tree – I apply this to my feet and any little skin issue.
  7. Lime – I just can’t get over how a couple drops of lime e.o. will transform regular salsa, guacamole, or other recipes into something so fantastic that words do not adequately describe the pleasure.
  8. R.C. – I rub a drop between my hands and apply to my throat and chest when I’m congested, I diffuse this next to my bed anytime I feel a scratchy throat or sinus thing coming on, and I add this to bathwater to make it feel like my own private spa.
  9. Copaiba – this little baby is like having a secret weapon to improved wellness and I like to take it internally in capsules.
  10. Thieves – I saved one of the very best for last – I take this internally by adding a drop or two to homemade capsules, by adding a drop to oatmeal, or one drop to a spoonful of raw honey, diffuse it for a warm, spicy, comforting scent,  and I clean my entire house with Thieves Household Cleaner because it’s a powerful cleaning product without the toxic chemicals.

Finding new ways to improve life and make the ordinary into something special is such a great feeling.  Adding essential oils into my daily life has brought me so much joy, purpose, and abundance.  I am loving this oily journey and I hope I’ve inspired you to try something new?  From here, the sky is the limit!

Warm regards,

Anna

P.S.  Most of these oils come in Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit in case you’re looking for an easy way to get started.

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Top 10 Reasons Why Shopping at Small Businesses Supports Wellness

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I enjoy a bargain as much, or more, than the next gal, but there is one holiday tradition I can’t bring myself to participate in, and that is Black Friday.  There is something about the “Open at 5:00 am”, mega-retailer, shop ’til you drop, fight over toys for your kids – madness that makes me feel uneasy at best, and downright furious and disgusted at worst.

I do, however, strongly support Small Business Saturday, one day later.

This year I will be buying most of my holiday gifts from small, local businesses right here in Northeast Ohio and I encourage you to do the same in your neck of the woods.

10 Reasons to Shop Small Business and How That Supports Wellness (of you and your community)

  1. Support your local economy.  Every dollar spent locally means more money that goes back into your community.  If you want there to be a thriving downtown, you must shop there.
  2. Support local character and charm.  Be proud of what makes your hometown unique.
  3. Encourage environmental sustainability.  Compact, walkable downtowns with stores full of locally produced products means reduction in fossil fuel emissions and air pollution.  Also, if you pay a little more for items, it’s likely you’ll reduce your consumption and waste.
  4. Better quality.  You may be able to find a similar item, for instance, let’s say a sweater, at a big box retailer for less money, but consider the quality and value.  How long will that cheaply made, lower quality fabric and stitching last?  Will you need to buy another next winter?  I personally prefer to have fewer, higher quality items, especially clothing and shoes, that will last for years and look better, fit better, and become favorite go to items that make me feel good to wear.
  5. Product diversity.  Small retailers often specialize in unique and special items that you wouldn’t find at the big chain stores.  If you enjoy giving unique gifts and trying new things, small businesses are your best bets.
  6. Support and help others to enter the middle class.  We all know that the gap between the haves and have nots is growing wider.  Working in low wage jobs for big retailers, mega-corporations, and chains will never be the way to move up in the world.  Entrepreneurship is a means to improve the economic situation for families and communities.
  7. Local decision making.  Local ownership ensures that local decisions are made by people who live in the community and are effected by the decisions.
  8. Competition.  Many small businesses competing for your business helps to keep prices reasonable.
  9. Investment in the future.  Someday, that business could be the opportunity and viable career for the next generation.  Kids grow up and need first jobs, jobs to help pay for college, and businesses to support their own families.  Otherwise, where will they live, work, and thrive?

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10. Connect and make new friends.  Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had are with the experts who are small business owners.  If you want to learn something, talk to the experts.  Then, buy their wares.  Take your friends and family to their shops.  Learn their kids’ names.  Feel the pride of knowing those who you help to support.

 

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Fresh Tomato Salsa With Lime Essential Oil

limeoilsalsaingredsDid you know that salsa far outsells ketchup at the grocery store these days?  I think that’s a good sign about where American tastes are heading.  Specifically, we’re heading towards a more sophisticated palate that enjoys bright and zingy flavors like tomatoes with citrus.

I as write, summer is winding down and we’ve got vine-ripened, juicy tomatoes coming out of our ears here in Ohio.  For this, I am thankful.  I like to mentally divide the year into seasons based on what fruits and veggies are fresh and at the peak of ripeness.  To me, the end of summer is tomato season.  The rest of the year there’s not much point in bothering with the overpriced hothouse supermarket varieties.  They just can’t compare to the complexity and flavor profiles of a fresh, just off the vine, sweet homegrown tomato.  Thanks to our CSA (community supported agriculture) share and a good friend with an amazing garden, we’ve got lots to enjoy.  Thankfully, salsa is a quick and easy way to use the bounty and eat healthy (mostly-except for those tortilla chips I love so much).

Why would you want to use Lime Essential Oil in your fresh salsa, you might ask?  Well, if you are anything like me, I buy a bag of limes, use one, and the rest rot in the fridge drawer.  Then, later when I go to make something that would be delicious with lime juice or zest, like a marinade, I realize I just threw out that bag of limes I let rot.  (I really am trying not to be so wasteful these days.)  The citrus and herb essential oils have really helped me waste less food and throw away less hard-earned money.  Not only does having the Lime Essential Oil on hand make good financial sense, it is a refreshing dietary supplement high in D-Limonene, which helps support a healthy lifestyle.  Click here for more information about D-Limonene.

In years past I’ve had a garden and canned my own produce, salsa included, but this recipe is best eaten fresh, kept refrigerated, and used within 3 days (if it even lasts that long).  The old standby of tortilla chips is a classic, but, if you’re feeling more adventurous you might try making homemade oven-baked zucchini chips (by just thinly slicing zucchini, preferably with a mandolin slicer, placing on a lightly oiled baking sheet/Silpat/parchment paper, misting with oil, salt & pepper, and bake either low & slow at 225 degrees F. for about an hour, or try 425 degrees F. for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time.

Other awesome ways we use fresh salsa at my house:

  • As a fat free salad dressing, especially with chicken or taco meat (or cumin & garlic seasoned, roasted veggies)
  • On eggs, sometimes on omelettes, or breakfast tostadas with avocado and beans, but on any style of eggs it works!
  • Mix it into cooked rice along with a can of black beans for instant rice and beans
  • Top grilled veggies like eggplant, zucchini, or roasted spaghetti squash
  • Anything that even remotely resembles a taco, fajita, enchilada, or tamale gets a big dollop of salsa around here

Lime Vitality Essential Oil, other possible uses:

  • Add 1 or 2 drops to homemade or purchased guacamole (or purchased salsa)
  • Add 2 or 3 drops to cooked rice along with chopped cilantro, a minced garlic clove, and a bit of olive oil (it’s better than Chipotle’s lime-cilantro rice)
  • Add 1 to 3 drops to a pitcher of margaritas or other beverage that uses lime or citrus
  • Add a drop to your glass of water to add something special
  • Use a 1-3 drops in a marinade for chicken, veggies, tofu, or fish – especially good with cumin and garlic or in Asian inspired marinades

Here’s a very quick and easy tomato salsa recipe that you can adjust as you wish without worry.  I like it chunky, so sometimes I chop by hand, but if you want it smoother, use your food processor, blender, or Nutri-Bullet.  (You may need to process it in batches depending on how large your appliance is.)  This photo is a batch made in my food processor*.  (*This is the best food processor available according to me and the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. Mine was a gift from my amazing husband who took the time to research every model before buying only the best, bless him.)

 

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Fresh Tomato Salsa With Lime Essential Oil

Makes about 4 cups or enough for 2 pint jars (which is enough to eat some and share some).

Ingredients

  • 3 Large, vine-ripe tomatoes, diced small (seeded, if you wish)
  • 1 Medium white onion, diced very small (white onions are so delicious fresh and will give your salsa that authentic Mexican flavor, but you can use another variety if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
  • 1 Jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and de-veined, minced (add another pepper if you like it hot)
  • 1/4 Cup fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried off, and chopped fine
  • 2 to 4 drops Lime Vitality Essential Oil (taste & adjust as needed, and/or you can add a splash of fresh squeezed lime juice)
  • Kosher salt to taste

 

Instructions to Prepare

Wash the tomatoes and pepper(s) with your fruit and veggie wash.  (Click here for a link to an effective natural fruit and veggie wash).  Slice and peel onion. Chop accordingly and mix everything in a non-reactive (so, not aluminum, use glass or ceramic) bowl.  I like to prepare this first and let it rest (marinate together) as I prepare whatever else we’re having.  Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.  Share a jar with your neighbor.  Use within 3 days for best flavor.  If you have a food processor, it’s easy to double this recipe and whip up a batch in 10 minutes or less.

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