My Safe Space

A few months ago, my former behavior specialist introduced a kind of visualization exercise to me called something like “A safe space” It doesn’t necessarily involve just visualizations though. Rather, the idea is to imagine your safe space, real or imaginary, in as much detail as you can. For today’s blog post, I’m going to describe mine.

I am in a kind of artificial forest surrounded by trees. The ground, however, is smooth, so that I can walk on it. When I want to rest, I can sit on a soft, cushioned bench in the forest. It feels like moss, but smoother and velveter. I can pull a weighted blanket over me when I want to fully relax. Of course, it’s always comfortably warm here.

I smell the scent of various plants and trees in the forest, such as lavender, sweet orange, pine, etc. They vary with the time of day or week and with the seasons, creating ever-changing combinations of aromas.

There are, of course, unicorns in the forest. The unicorns have all kinds of colors and sparkly or shimmery or glow-in-the-dark mane, creating a beautiful sight. Since my safe space is imaginary, I can see well enough to actually perceive these colors and sparkles and everything. When I feel like it, I can ride one of the unicorns. I can also cuddle with the colts and fillies. The unicorns comfort me.

There’s water in my safe space too. It has all the pros of a swimming pool (the cleanliness, smooth surface to stand on at the shallow end, etc.) but is still natural in a way. There are dolphins in the water that I can do dolphin therapy with.

I hear calm harp music and birdsong in the background when I’m in my safe space. Sometimes, the birdsong is replaced by dolphin sounds.

All combined, the unicorns and dolphins with the music, scents, and comfortable feel of the weighted blanket, will calm me.

Of course, aside from the real dolphins and the unicorns, everything I have in my imaginary safe space, I either have in my real room at the care facility or could somehow create elsewhere. I mean, I have a weighted blanket, an essential oil diffuser, a music pillow and a Spotify account to create the soothing music. The staff also offered to take me swimming once in a while again and I could obviously find a real forest (though that does not have the smooth ground to stand on). I can still imagine many colors in my mind, so this visualization exercise may help me create the colorful experience of the unicorns I described above. In truth, though merely imagining a safe space isn’t necessarily going to make me feel any calmer, it does get me closer to realizing the things I have right here in order to create it.

loopyloulaura

Hobbies I Could Turn Into Christmas Gifts

Hi everyone. As regular readers of this blog know, I have a lot of eBooks on journaling. One of them is a collection of 31 Christmas-related journaling prompts and one of its prompts is about turning hobbies into Christmas gifts. The prompt asks us to think of ten hobbies that could be turned into Christmas presents. They don’t have to be physical presents. In fact, the explanation behind the prompt was about a little boy coming to greet Jesus and, rather than bringing riches like gold or myrrh, he brought his drums and played little Jesus a song. Today, I am going to share some of my passions that I could turn into Christmas gifts. I am pretty sure I won’t make it to ten, but that’s okay.

1. Storytelling. Some kind words can mean the world to someone. I am not too much of a wordsmith in terms of poetry or fiction, but I can definitely share some of my positive thoughts with someone I care about this holiday season.

2. Soap making. Okay, I can’t find my Christmas tree mold as I write this, but I could still create a soap in festive colors. After all, I do have gold and red mica powders.

3. Aromatherapy. Related to the above one, I could obviously add a Christmassy scent to my soap or other DIY bath and body care product. I have a ton of seasonal essential oils, including white fir, cinnamon and orange. I also am pretty sure I have a Christmas tree fragrance oil.

4. Polymer clay. Of course. I recently created a polymer clay Christmas tree and am going to buy white Fimo soon so that I can create a snowman too. I have a few Christmas-related cutters, but I prefer creating sculptures.

5. Jewelry-making. I don’t have that many Christmas-colored jewelry-making supplies on hand right now, but if I wanted to, I could purchase them. I can definitely make a holiday-themed keychain or bracelet. If I am going to use my polymer clay to make jewelry with, I do have Christmassy colors.

6. Reading. I could read my fellow clients a Christmas-related children’s story.

7. Baking and cooking. I am not a great cook or baker, but I could with some help from the staff definitely whip up some seasonal treat. I love looking up recipes.

Well, I can’t think of anything else right now, but I am pretty content with how I did on this list.

How could you turn a hobby of yours into a Christmas gift?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Four Essential Oil Diffuser Blends for Relaxation

Like I’ve mentioned a couple of times over the past week, I’ve been loving my new essential oils. I got three new-to-me oils, even though I already had a stash of about thirty different oils. One of the reasons for this is the fact that, when I started out experimenting with essential oils several years ago, I just bought oils at random without paying attention to which blended well together. In case you didn’t know, blending essential oils is better than using single oils. For this reason, you almost by default need more than one oil. But I was completely clueless and just threw oils together that I had no idea about whether their smells or effects would complement each other or would lead to something that flat out stank. And since I had no idea what to expect, my nose wasn’t telling me either.

All this to say, you don’t need thirty or more essential oils to enjoy aromatherapy. I for one love creating a new blend everyday and, since I buy my oils online, I haven’t been able to smell them before purchasing them. If you are in a position to smell different oils before purchasing them, by all means do. After all, even though blends are better than single oils, if an oil has a horrible smell on its own, you may not like it in synergy either. Thankfully, all my new-to-me oils smell pretty good.

Like I said above, I like to try a new essential oil blend everyday. Like I said when doing my #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy, essential oils can do different things. For example, some can be uplifting and some can be relaxing. Today, I’m sharing four different essential oil blends for relaxation.

For each blend, I will assume you have a medium-size (about 300ml) ultrasonic diffuser. For this reason, the total number of drops of essential oil you’ll want to use, is about 10 on average. You can adjust the number to your liking or your diffuser size.

Blend 1

First up is a blend of lavender or lavandin, cedarwood, sweet orange and ylang ylang. Like I said when discussing lavender and lavandin last April, lavandin is milder and cheaper than lavender. In this recipe, I used lavandin. You can substitute the sweet orange for wild orange if you have this, but I’ve never tried that. I really like this combination of oils and have it in my diffuser as I write this post.


  • 4 drops lavandin

  • 2 drops sweet orange

  • 2 drops cedarwood

  • 1 drop ylang ylang

Blend 2

This blend combines equal amounts of bergamot, patchouli and ylang ylang. I got a little bored of this blend after using it a little too often. However, it is simple to memorize, which may be one reason I used it so regularly.


  • 3 drops bergamot

  • 3 drops ylang ylang

  • 3 drops patchouli

Blend 3

This blend contains lavender (or lavandin, I’ve tried both), patchouli and geranium. Geranium is one of those oils whose smell I don’t personally appreciate that much, so I like to use only one drop of it in my blends.


  • 4 drops lavender

  • 4 drops patchouli

  • 1 drop geranium

Blend 4

Finally, I want to mention a blend that contains one of my absolute favorite essential oils: clary sage. I was really saddened that I didn’t find a reason to discuss this oil in my #AtoZChallenge last April, although I think I mentioned it when discussing uplifting essential oils. This blend has both mood-boosting and relaxing properties.


  • 1 drop lemongrass

  • 5 drops lavender

  • 4 drops clary sage

I hope some of these essential oil blends will inspire you.

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with the Hearth and Soul Link Party

Zoloft From Nature: Uplifting Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to the final day in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for another weird title. I usually go with Z for “ZZZ” and then write about sleep, but I already covered calming essential oils in my letter X post. Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant, so I thought I’d steal that name for a post on uplifting essential oils. Unlike calming essential oils, I am not under the impression that uplifting oils can replace a legitimate antidepressant prescription. After all, generally speaking, antidepressants should only be prescribed in moderate to severe cases of anxiety or depression. It may therefore be needless to say, but don’t stop your antidepressants without a doctor’s supervision. These oils may help you feel better and are generally safe to use when you’re on medication.

First up is clary sage essential oil. I love love love this oil. It is not generally energizing, but is very uplifting to the mood. Clary sage essential oil is derived from the flowers/buds and leaves of the salvia sclarea plant. It contains 60 to 70 percent linalyl acetate, which gives it its mood-boosting properties.

citrus essential oils like grapefruit, bergamot and lemon are also great for stimulating the mind and improving mood. Like I said when writing about those oils, they can be combined together to create fresh, fruity blends. I mentioned my keylime pie diffuser recipe already, but the possibilities are really endless.

Another oil I came across when doing research for this post, is white fir. This is an oil I haven’t used often yet, but it combines great with citrus oils to add a little woodsy scent to your blends. I also saw spicy essential oils like cinnamon listed.

Lastly, mint essential oils, especially spearmint, are particularly helpful to get you out of a funk. They are energizing and, in combination with citrus oils, are great for boosting your mood.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter Y post in the #AtoZChallenge. Yay, we’re almost done with the challenge. Today, I will share about one of my favorite essential oils with you: ylang ylang. I never quite understand how to pronounce it, but who cares if it smells good?

Ylang ylang essential oil is derived through steam distillation of the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree. Its common name comes from the repetition of the Tagalog word for “wilderness”, “ilang”. The tree occurs in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines, Indonesia, Comoro and Polynesia.

Ylang ylang is an interesting oil, in that it is distilled somewhat differently from other oils. You may have seen ylang ylang essential oil be referred to as “Extra”, “Complete” or a Roman number I, II or III. The difference lies in the distillation time. Ylang ylang extra is only distilled for a short time. Then the remaining oil is further distilled to create ylang ylang I, II and III. Finally, a completed distillation results in ylang ylang complete. For aromatherapy purposes, ylang ylang extra or complete are preferred. I honestly have no i dea what variety of ylang ylang oil I own.

The aroma of ylang ylang essential oil is exotic, sweet, floral and a bit fruity. The essential oil is thought to help lessen anxiety and depression. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac. Ylang ylang essential oil is thought to help reduce negative emotions such as nervousness, tension and sadness. It also supposedly promotes positive feelings of cheerfulness and optimism. For this reason, it is very useful in promoting sensuality for couples.

When used topically on the skin, ylang ylang essential oil is believed to help regulate the skin’s oil production, thereby reducing excessive dryness or oiliness.

The maximum usage rate in skincare products is 0.8%, because there is a risk of skin sensitization. Also be careful when using ylang ylang essential oil in a diffuser for the first time, as it can cause a headache.

Xanax From Nature: Calming Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter X post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for the weird title, but I had to come up with something starting with X. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety and sleep medication. Here in the Netherlands, benzodiazepine medications aren’t covered by insurance, at least not when used for sleep or relaxation. In the spirit of finding alternatives to benzos, today I’m sharing what essential oils can do to promote relaxation. Now I don’t say that essential oils are as effective, but in some cases, they might just be, especially since benzos are highly addictive.

The most well-known oil for tranquility is, of course, lavender. Lavender is thought to help relieve anxiety by affecting the limbic region of the brain, the area that involves emotion. You can either use some lavender essential oil in a diffuser blend or enjoy a lavender bath. To do this, combine a few drops of lavender essential oil with a teaspoon or so of the carrier oil of your choice or an unscented bath gel.

Valerian is up next. I don’t own this oil and haven’t talked about it. Valerian is an herb that has been used since ancient times to promote sleep and relaxation. The herb can be used in herbal teas, but there’s also an essential oil derived from it that can be used in a diffuser blend.

Jasmine is also sometimes used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. It has a beautifully floral scent and, in helping with anxiety, has the advantage that it doesn’t cause sleepiness. Jasmine is usually sold as an absolute and even then can be quite expensive.

Chamomile essential oil, particularly Roman chamomile, is also commonly used for helping reduce anxiety. I do not own this oil, as it is pretty expensive, but would love to in the future. I did at one point use chamomile in herbal tea.

Lastly, frankincense and vetiver essential oil both have calming properties.

There are also oils that have both calming and uplifting properties. For example, I personally didn’t expect patchouli essential oil to help with anxiety, as it is mostly thought of as an uplifting oil. However, of course, oils can do both. I will discuss more uplifting oils later.

Wintergreen Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter W post in the #AtoZChallenge with my theme of aromatherapy. Today, I will be writing on an oil I don’t own, but which has fascinated me for a while: wintergreen.

When I first looked into essential oils, I saw that wintergreen essential oil is commonly sold. However, at the time, I thought it was a hazardous oil because, back then, AromaWeb had it on its list of oils you should avoid. I wondered why then it was being sold.

Indeed, wintergreen’s main component, Methyl Salicylate (which makes up at least 98% of the essential oil), is toxic with as little as four milliliters being potentially deadly. AromaWeb still advises caution when using this oil. The author also advises buying from a reputable supplier, as some vendors market synthetic Methyl salicylate as wintergreen essential oil.

Wintergreen essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Gaultheria procumbens, an evergreen shrub. The leaves are first soaked in warm water and then the oil is extracted through steam distillation. Fresh wintergreen leaves do not contain Methyl salicylate. Rather, the chemical is formed during the process of soaking the leaves.

Wintergreen’s aroma is crisp, fresh, woody and sweet. Wintergreen’s smell is similar to that of mint essential oils. For this reason, many people think that wintergreen belongs to the mint family. It doesn’t.

Like birch oil, wintergreen essential oil is used as a potent pain reliever and anti-inflammatory oil. However, it also has blood thinning properties, so should not be used if you already take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. The oil also stimulates the liver, resulting in possible drug interactions. I would advise against using wintergreen essential oil at all if you take any medication. Wintergreen is not safe when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also should not be used on children or around pets.

Vetiver Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for this year is aromatherapy and today, I want to discuss the oil I most recently purchased: vetiver essential oil.

Vetiver essential oil is derived through steam distillation of the aromatic roots of the Vetiveria zizanoides plant. The aroma is strong on its own and can be described as woody, earthy, herbaceous, smoky and spicy. Vetiver essential oil has potent emotional balancing properties and is, for this reason, also referred to as the oil of tranquility. It is also sometimes called the fragrance of the soil.

Almost the entire vetiver plant has been used since ancient times. For example, in tropical countries, people used to make coolers from vetiver plants. They were woven together with coir ropes to make grass mats, which were soaked in water and then hung in doorways. That way, the warm air from outdoors would be cooled.

Since the Middle Ages, vetiver essential oil has been used for its scent. Its deep and woody aroma, its low evaporation rate and its sollubility in alcohol make it great for use in perfumes. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, Miss Dior by Dior and Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel are some well-known perfumes that incorporate vetiver. Vetiver is also used in many if not most men’s fragrances.

Vetiver essential oil can be used on the skin to treat acne, reduce the appearance of scars, help with wound healing and lessen the effects of aging on the skin. Its maximum usage rate in a carrier oil is 15%.

However, it is even more useful in a diffuser blend. It has warming, grounding, balancing and sedative properties. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac scent.

Vetiver essential oil blends well with many other oils, including sandalwood, patchouli, lavender and clary sage. If you happen to have rose absolute, this is also a great aphrodisiac to be used with vetiver essential oil. Some sources recommend using as many as five drops of vetiver essential oil in your blends of ten drops. However, AromaWeb’s author recommends using the oil sparingly in blends to prevent it overpowering other scents. I agree with that.

Useful Resources for Aromatherapy #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter U post in the #AtoZChallenge on essential oils. I’ve been debating a lot what to cover for this letter, but eventually decided to do a quick post on resources for doing your own aromatherapy.

I use a number of books for my information on aromatherapy. However, the Internet is also rich with resources. First up is AromaWeb. This is one of the most reliable sources on essential oils and aromatherapy online. There are essential oil profiles and there’s information on safety, but there are also recipes for your own aromatherapy products. This site usually comes up first when I search for general essential oil information.

Next is Loving Essential Oils. This is mostly a site full of recipes for diffuser blends and other DIY products with essential oils. I also think they sell aromatherapy supplies. When I search for diffuser blends, this site usually pops up first.

I also like to get my diffuser recipes from One Essential Community. They also offer many different DIY recipes with essential oils.

Last, I want to recommend EOCalc.com. This site has never popped up in Google searches that I did before, but it was recommended in a Facebook natural soap making community. I have so far never used my essential oils in soap and I am not sure this site is useful for melt and pour soap makers like me. However, this site has a wealth of essential oil blends. I just convert the percentages to drops and then use the recipe for my diffuser.

Tea Tree Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter T post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I’ll discuss an oil I’ve had for some time, but which I didn’t really know much about: tea tree.

Tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) is an essential oil derived from the tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to southeast Queensland and the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. This tree, to be clear, is different from Camellia sinensis, the shrub that tea leaves come from.

The common name of “tea tree” is thought to have originated with Captain James Cook, who used to make an infusion with it that he used to drink in place of tea. Commercial use of the oil started in the 1920s with Arthur Penfold, an Australian chemist, seeing its potential as an antiseptic.

Tea tree essential oil has a thin consistency and a clear to pale yellow color. Its aroma is fresh yet camphoraceous. Most people don’t like the scent at first, but are able to develop a tolerance or even liking for the oil’s smell eventually.

In aromatherapy, tea tree essential oil has a wide range of uses. For example, when used topically on the skin, it is thought to help with acne and skin infections, as well as nail fungus. A small study found that indeed, tea tree oil is superior to placebo when treating acne. It can also be used in hair products to combat dandruff and is claimed to treat head lice in children. This, however, is not supported by evidence and is not recommended, as neither its safety nor efficacy are known.

Some authors say that you can safely use tea tree oil undiluted on the skin. However, I think you should always dilute essential oils into a carrier oil when using them on the skin. Indeed, on AromaWeb’s profile, the authors recommend a maximum usage rate of 15%. This does show to me that the oil is significantly more skin-safe than other oils.

That being said, tea tree oil is toxic when ingested. The list of possible effects of poisoning is long and serious. You should not use essential oils internally anyway, but especially not tea tree oil. Do not use it in or near the mouth, ever! Tea tree oil is also poisonous to dogs and cats, even when used externally at high doses. Keep your essential oils away from children and pets.