It’s that time of year again, when many experience what’s commonly called the “winter blues”, known by its medical name, seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The condition of winter blues is due to many factors, namely the lack of natural sunlight. There are many ways to combat the winter blues, however I find that using certain essential oils really helps to uplift my mood and spirit, boost my energy and even increase my creativity. Essential oils invigorate the senses and contribute to the harmonization of the body, mind and soul, in the comfort of your own home!
The oils that I find work the best for the winter blues are the citrusy, flowery, outdoorsy oils. They bring a sense of summer gardens and vast fields of nature into your space, perfect for combining with yoga or quiet time alone.
I have included only oils that I own and use often to personally experience re-energizing, refreshing and mood-enhancing benefits. My favourite oils to use in the winter include:
1.) Sweet Orange
Sweet Orange Oil is extracted from the ripe fruit peel of Citrus Sinensis. With it’s sweet and fruity smell, this oil takes me to a field of orange flavoured lolipops (without consuming the sugar). In a way, it allows my inner child to come out and play. This oil is cozy and gentle yet can take you to the sunny beaches of Florida. Sweet Orange Oil is very similar to Mandarin Oil, which are both often used as antidepressants. Methyl N-methyl anthranilate is the active constituent that is responsible for the oil’s mood uplifting effects.
How to use it:
Vaporize 5-10 drops of Sweet Orange Oil in a diffuser to uplift your spirits. You can also mix a few drops with distilled water to make a spritz that can be sprayed on or around you throughout the day. I love diffusing this oil first thing in the morning.
While the oil contains no Vitamin C, it is a proven digestive aid, and is able to stimulate appetite and salivary juices. Limonene is the main component that contributes to the digestive aid, as in many citrusy oils. Diffuse 3-10 drops in the food preparation area prior to eating.
2.) Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang Oil is derived from the flowers of the tropical Cananga Odorata tree, native to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. This may be my favorite oil. It is intensely sweet, floral, sensual, rich, full bodied and earthy. It is one of the angelic fragrances.
Para-cresyl methyl ether is the component in Ylang Ylang that gives it it’s euphoric scent. Benzyl benzoate, geranyl acetate, benzyl acetate and benzyl salicylate contribute to it’s relaxing and calming effects. It can reduce anxiety and tension while bringing out love and opening the heart. It also affects a brainwave pattern known as Contingent Negative Variation, which creates an increase in mental alertness.
How to use it:
You can vaporize 5-7 drops in a diffuser, however I love using this oil as a beautiful perfume. Dab 1-2 drops onto your collarbone or on the inside of your shirt, so the aroma can rise throughout the day. It is also perfect to carry with you to smell whenever you’d like to bring your senses into a garden of pleasure. Its armona is amplified when mixed with a few drops of Peppermint or Rosemary Oils.
This sexy oil is most traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and can assist with a lack of sexual desire. Mix 5 drops with vegetable oil for a full body massage, or add a few drops in a bath.
Bergamot Oil comes from the peels of Bergamot Oranges (Citrus Bergamia) grown mostly in Italy and other areas in Europe. This unique oil is musky and euphoric, with a hint of citrus (orange and lime). It is floral yet earthy, spicy yet sweet. Bergamot is completely uplifting, refreshing, restorative and relaxing. It is well known for its benefits as an antidepressant, as well as its mood enhancing benefits. It can be used to calm and alleviate anxiety and stress, as well as promote creativity. Linalyl acetate and linalool contribute to the oil’s anxiety and stress reducing effects. Bergamot soothes the nerves and invigorates the senses, stimulating a dopamine and serotonin boost.
How to use it:
Personally, the most beneficial use of Bergamot Oil I find is keeping the bottle with me and unscrewing the lid to smell whenever I like. I notice an instant uplifting of my mood. Add 5 drops in a bath before bed to relax anxiety or vaporize 5-10 drops in a diffuser to experience its uplifting effects.
Like Sweet Orange, the limonene in Bergamot Oil makes it a great digestive aid. Bergamot is also used as an antiseptic, with linalool as its antibacterial agent.
Lemongrass Oil is extracted from the leaves of the tropical grass Cymbopogon Citratus, grown widely in Southeast Asia. This oil is very stimulating! It is lemony with very strong earthy undertones. It smells fresh and grounding, and takes me to the middle of a vast, open rice field at sunset.
Lemongrass Oil assists with low energy and tiredness, giving a mental boost as well as anxiety relief. It can also be used to improve circulation which increases mental alertness and ones sense of vitality. The citral (neral and geranial) component contributes to it’s invigorating, energy boosting effects and increased circulation.
How to use it:
Vaporize 5-10 drops of Lemongrass Oil in a diffuser any time to experience its invigorating and refreshing effects. You can also mix 3-5 drops with vegetable oil to create a great massage oil for increased circulation. Massage your arms and legs, spiraling towards the heart.
Lemongrass Oil works well as a topical antiseptic and anti-fungal agent, and is known for treating athlete’s foot. It is also an effective ingredient for a home-made insect repellent.
Grapefruit Oil is extracted from the peel of grapefruits (Citrus Paradisii). The oil smells pretty much how you would expect it to, with a very pleasant, fresh, sour, sweet, citrusy aroma. I love this oil. It takes me to an exotic, fruity, lush scenery, completely refreshing my body, mind and soul. Not only is Grapefruit Oil reputed for its uses as an antidepressant, but it also supports self worth and increases motivation for creative projects. It has the ability to instantly uplift ones mood and spirit with its joyous scent. It benefits the nervous system by reviving ‘the blues’, while simultaneously reducing fatigue, lethargy and stress.
How to use it:
Diffuse 5-10 drops of Grapefruit Oil in any space. This is my favorite oil to vaporize during morning yoga.
Grapefruit Oil can be used as a blood purifier and for their detox. It supports the lymphatic system by stimulating the lymph and tissue fluid circulation (reducing swelling) when mixed with vegetable oil and massaged topically on the skin.
Lemon, Lime, Peppermint and Lavender Oils also have tremendous benefits if you are experiencing the winter blues (even if you’re not!). My favorite essential oil brand is Young Living. They may be the purest in quality, however they are quite expensive. ArtNatural Artisan Oils are very good in quality as well, and they are VERY reasonably priced. You can buy them here.
• Please note that the use of essential oils is not the only solution to treating the symptoms of seasonal effective disorder. Essential oils are most effective in combination with a regular sleep cycle, light exercise like yoga or taking walks in nature, meditation and a clean diet.
Written By Amanda Solda
Sources: Bowles, E Joy. The A to Z of Essential Oils. Quarto Inc, 2003.