If you are anything like me, the beginning of September is usually filled with elation and dread. Elation, because I can pack the boy off to school and I can give up my multifaceted super duper juggling act that every single school holiday requires. Dread, because the rush of a new school term has begun, and with it comes the dreaded morning ‘hurry up hustle’ and the ‘rush like a mad woman’ afternoon pick up.
I am a firm believer that approaching September refreshed puts you in the right direction to tackle the term ahead. I am also yearning to join in with the #slowseptember challenge to ensure I don’t burnout before Christmas!
In my summer post I talked about how you can get your body, home and mind relaxed and refreshed. In this blog I will bring you in on self-care tips you can add to your much needed self-care toolbox to get you ready for autumn/winter and help you thrive all the way to Christmas and beyond.
I will be looking at how parents can help boost their children’s immunity for back to school in a pandemic, and maintain their concentration after a long active summer to feel more focussed for the term ahead. I will also be sharing simple tips teachers can follow to boost their energy levels for the school year ahead.
As a parent myself, I understand the struggle of juggling more than one thing at once and not having enough hours in the day to do everything. During September there is always the risk of spreading yourself too thin with so many things competing for your attention.
The key is to get organised. Get out your planners that have been sitting at the back of the wardrobe and start using them to coordinate your work schedule, and children’s schedules. Make sure you include self-care time. This will also help you slow down when you can.
After a summer full of mediation, I plan to continue this habit to help me survive the rest of the year. For morning meditation, I like diffusing blends with citrus oils like, Lemon, Lime Grapefruit, these oils add a pep in your step. These are also the types of oils I like to use at the start of term in my massage blends too. They are the oils to arm me in the morning for the dreaded school run.
For evening meditation when my brain is truly frazzled I like Plai, Sweet Orange and Palma rosa, this helps me switch off and quieten the mind Helen Nagle-Smith mentions in her book Working with Unusual oils that Plai encourages flexibility and openness to new ideas or if you feel stuck. As a parent we all know that sometimes we can be inflexible especially when we are juggling so much so this is an oil I really love.
After a long summer holiday of late nights, getting back into a schedule can be extremely hard for young people. The first few weeks back can be filled with anxiety, especially if they are heading off to university or starting a new college or beginning your GCSEs - To help with focus, I love oils like Basil, Lemon, Ho wood and even Tea Tree for it's grounding properties. Peppermint is another great oil for students and it helps clear the mind. For anxiety I love oils like Bergamot, Elemi, Geranium and Cypress. During periods of great change, I always reach for Cypress. My lovely Teacher Julia Oyeleye first taught me about these properties on a trip to Kew. I highly recommend her book Aromatherapy for Mental Wellbeing.
However with students it’s usually us Mum’s that do all the mixing and blending for our kids, so i recommend popping a few rollerballs in their backpacks. My favourite is the Mindfulness Kit.
Like our teenagers September, is an important time for children, heading back to school or starting school for the first time. Whether your child is filled with excitement or dread, this can affect their sleeping patterns as they too have probably been staying up a lot later than usual and we all know that getting enough sleep is key in boosting our immune system. If you can, start getting them ready for bed, 10 minutes earlier each night the week before school starts. If you, like me, haven't managed to achieve this, then 1-2 drops of Lavender in the bath (depending on age) can help. I also like adding a couple of drops of Lavender on to a tissue and place it into my son’s pillowcase to help him nod off.
If your child likes massage then dry adding 1 drop of Mandarin essential oil to 10 ml of Grapeseed or Sunflower oil and massage the body. If your child is a wriggler, or is not keen on a full massage, try massaging the head, hands or feet. To soothe emotions, diffuser blends in the morning are also a way to help children who find school distressing. I also find that adding a drop of a pre chosen essential oil blend on a tissue for them to keep in their pocket is very helpful. Contact a qualified Aromatherapist for selecting oils for your child.
When I read the levels of Teachers quitting the profession over the last few years, I am not at all surprised. The physical and mental demands on Teachers is much greater than the pay in my humble opinion. Having friends in my circle who are Teachers, I have seen first hand how their job takes a toll on their lives. I also have many clients who are Teachers so over the years I have tried to come up with treatments and blends to help with their physical and mental wellbeing. We all know that burnout can turn a much loved job into an absolute nightmare, this is why I always recommend Aromatherapy to my Teacher clients. To energise I often recommend blends with Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Ho Wood as well as the Citrus oils.
For physical exhaustion, I have been recently working with Elemi. The blend I made for the clinic this summer has been highly popular, some days it's the only blend requested by clients. More recently whilst on summer break, I have been learning more about the therapeutic benefits of Saro. I first learnt about this oil last year from a new Aromatherapy school I have been studying with. I personally have found this oil amazing, so I will be making more pre-blended oils with it for my massage clients. According to Helen Nagel-Smith, Saro chases out weariness and uplifts, and is a great pick me up, so it is a much for Teachers especially as it contains antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties so also great for the winter months.
Back to work
You don’t have to be a Parent or Teacher to associate September with new beginnings. Many of us have had time off work this summer and even if you have worked all the way through, I know many people who still associate September as a new start, even if they haven’t been in the education system for years! This year may be harder to get going and many are still suffering from pandemic fatigue, so before we head into the autumn months, it's a great time to start a new self-care habit and get energised for the months ahead.
Apart from my daily meditation practice, I have made stretching and yoga part of my daily routine. The benefits have been amazing and both my body and mind have really benefited from the practice.
On the days, I just can’t get going, I like to spritz some De-stress Moodfix Mist in my practice space and on my yoga mat. I am sure I am not the only person who doesn’t clean their mat regularly, so even wiping my mat with a little Lemon and Thyme essential oil really gets me going. Stretching at the end of the day also works well too. My other regular practice I started this year is morning body brushing. This is such an energising practice. I finish off with a quick shower and some aromatic body oil, then I am ready to take on the day.
Rolling out of bed and jumping on the laptop can no longer be an option, so if you are still working from home, 10-20 minutes of yoga in the morning followed by a 5 minute body brushing session and a shower is well worth the effort. Why not give it a try!