The spicy, sweet aromas of the holiday season can spark joyful memories, strong emotions, and big appetites. They can also offer health benefits. Pure essential oils such as cinnamon, clove, pine, orange, peppermint, and frankincense—all classic holiday scents—can help you weather seasonal stress.
Essential oils are synergistic blends of chemical compounds that plants produce to defend themselves against pathogens and to communicate with other plants and animals. When properly used, they can calm nerves, uplift your spirits, and soothe a variety of seasonal ailments. Artificial aromas, which are unfortunately all too common, don’t provide the same benefits, so it’s vital to use only high-quality, unadulterated essential oils.
Here are five easy ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your holiday routine. You can modify the blends to suit your preferences and your budget. Essential oils are potent; it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, especially in a product that will be used on the skin. Making solutions too strong can lead to irritation, headaches, and other unpleasant effects.
Spicy Citrus Diffuser Blend
There are many types of diffusers available. Simple candle warmers are inexpensive and add the visual charm of a flickering flame, but heating your essential oils can alter their effectiveness. Ultrasonic diffusers that use cool water are a great option and have the advantage of adding humidity to dry winter air. Nebulizers will give you the maximum benefit from your oils, but they can be pricey. Whichever option you choose, try this uplifting essential oil blend.
- 20 drops sweet orange
- 4 drops cinnamon bark
- 4 drops nutmeg
- 4 drops clove
Store in a tightly sealed, colored glass bottle to protect against ultraviolet light. Use 5 to 8 drops in a candle warmer, 10 to 15 in an ultrasonic diffuser, or the full batch in a nebulizer.
Evergreen Diffuser Blend
These oils make great air purifiers and are known to be helpful to the respiratory tract. It’s especially good for freshening the air in a stuffy, overheated room.
- 20 drops cedarwood
- 10 drops juniper berry
- 10 drops cypress
- 10 drops Siberian or balsam fir
Store in a tightly sealed, colored glass bottle.
Relaxing Bath Blend
What could be better than relaxing in a luxurious, hot bath after a long day of holiday shopping? This blend includes Frankincense, one of the legendary gifts of the Magi in the Christmas story. It’s no wonder that it was so highly valued—studies have shown that frankincense has wonderful skin healing and immune-boosting properties. Combined with lavender and vetiver, it makes a soothing and rejuvenating remedy for holiday stress.
- 8 drops lavender
- 5 drops Frankincense
- 3 drops vetiver
- ½ to 1 cup sea salt or epsom salts
- 1 tablespoon almond or Jojoba oil (or any oil you prefer)
Mix the essential oils into the almond or Jojoba oil first, stir all into the salt, then add to the bath water, and relax. If you don’t have time for a leisurely soak, you can add more almond oil to make a salt scrub for use in the shower. In either case, keep in mind that the oils will make the tub or shower slippery. Use a no-slip bath mat and extra care when getting in and out of the bath.
Sanitizing Hand Soap
This blend is packed with proven germ-fighting essential oils to help you stay healthy for all your holiday celebrations with the cheerful, seasonal spice of peppermint. Mix gently in a pump bottle.
- 4 ounces liquid Castille soap
- 30 drops peppermint
- 20 drops tea tree
- 8 drops lemon
- 8 drops rosemary
- 4 drops thyme
Sinus-Clearing Steam Blend
If, despite all your best efforts, you end up with a cold, this blend can help you breathe easier. Pour boiling water into a medium bowl, and add 1 to 3 drops of essential oils. Being careful not to get too close to the steam, lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and take some long, deep breaths. Do this for 5 to 15 minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable. If you’re in a rush, you can even do this by pouring the boiling water into a mug, adding the oils, and cupping your hands over your nose, mouth, and the mug. This way you avoid the sweaty face and still get the decongestant and antibacterial benefits. Store the blend in a tightly sealed, colored glass bottle.
- 12 drops eucalyptus globulus
- 5 drops cedarwood
- 5 drops tea tree
- 3 drops oregano or thyme
- 3 drops frankincense