In spite of its long, hot, and lazy days, the last weeks of August can often usher in a surprising amount of stress as Back to School fever starts to gain momentum in many households across the nation. Whether you’re a parent with small children or teenagers, or an adult engaged in some form of higher learning or vocational training yourself, you are all prone to the effects of the abrupt changes this transition brings to the now familiar rhythms and routines of summer.
Many parents –especially stay-at-home moms and dads– often look forward to their kids’ return to school as it frees them from the additional demands for attention and entertainment brought on by idle vacation time. But even they are not immune to the fallout that comes from shifting sleep and work schedules, the stress of arranging transportation and new after-school activities, and addressing general anxieties often associated with going back to school.
So what can you do right now to help you and your kids make the back to school transition as seamless as possible? Here are a couple of pointers and tips on how to make the best of the situation while incorporating the powerful stress relief and mood enhancing benefits of aromatherapy along the way.
Recognize that no matter what you do, it’s a time of transition and there will be a period where things are a little bumpy and tempers may flare. Accept this simple fact and be prepared to diffuse tension, anxiety, or crankiness whenever it rears its ugly head.
Aromatherapy tip for tension and crankiness: invest in an electric oil diffuser or two –preferably a nebulizing or fan-based model– and use it regularly in family rooms like the living room, den and/or kitchen. Diffuse citrus essential oils like orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, lemongrass and tangerine or a blend to create a cheerful, mood-uplifting environment to help combat crankiness. Alternately, try a blend of lavender, clary sage, chamomile and rose geranium or palmarosa with a touch of cedarwood to melt away tension and anxiety.
Plan ahead as much as possible. During the summer months it’s easy to fall out of the rigid routines that define life during the school year so get back on a regular schedule a few weeks before school starts. Create nightly rituals starting immediately after dinner that promote relaxation and getting ready for bed. After dinner activities should be free of electronics and the mental stimulation they induce. Engage instead in some restorative yoga poses, deep breathing, and reading for pleasure.
Aromatherapy tip for a good night’s sleep: Draw a “sleepy time” bath using about 8-10 drops of lavender, chamomile, marjoram and/or clary sage essential oils with a touch of orange or lemon, in a ½ to ¾ cup of Epsom salts. This blend will help you or your kids wind down and set yourselves up for a night of restful sleep. Alternately, add a few drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil (like olive, safflower, coconut or jojoba) and gently massage it into their backs.
Carve out a space that will be an oasis of calm, quiet, and undistracted focus where either you or your kids can study. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just clean, uncluttered, efficient and comfortable.
Aromatherapy tip for improved focus and concentration when studying: For smaller spaces, try a Scent Ball electric plug-in diffuser. These are lightweight and plug into any outlet where gentle warming releases the scent of the essential oils you drop onto the cotton pad that slides into it. For better focus and mental clarity try essential oils of rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon perhaps with a hint of cinnamon leaf or cinnamon bark. Use sparingly and avoid using them too close to bedtime as they may over-stimulate.
Work through your own anxiety. Kids have an uncanny way of tuning into their parents’ emotions –especially anxiety. The more relaxed you are and the more you can model a laid-back and relaxed approach to the whole experience for them, the more relaxed they will be.
Aromatherapy tip for relaxation: One great way to help diffuse tensions and to remain relaxed is to invest in a diffuser for the car. The Car Scenter electric aromatherapy diffuser is a lightweight diffuser that plugs into your car lighter chamber where it draws heat to release the scent of whatever essential oils you place on the cotton pad that slides into it.
Use it with citrus essential oils or try a combination of mint and vanilla, or cinnamon and orange essential oils, whenever you are in the car together –whether shopping for school supplies, or riding to and from school. Vanilla helps improve confidence and dissolve pent up anger and frustration. Don’t use sedating oils like chamomile or clary sage while driving!
Arm yourself and your kids with tools to help deal with stressful situations and anxiety that might come up during the course of the day while at school.
Aromatherapy tip for maintaining composure: Pack aromatic favors like lavender sachets, a small bottle of calming aromatherapy spray, citrus-scented lip balms, essential oil-based towelettes, or a small bottle of aromatic lotion in their school bag or jacket pocket. Pack extras they can keep in their school locker. The idea is to provide something small and usable they (or you) can quickly and easily reach for to feel better fast if fear, anxiety, or sadness come up.