Add as bookmark

High Summer - A Time to Recoup and Restore

by Barbara Payne(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 79 - August 2002

Are you enjoying the sunshine? Without it there would be no life on earth. Most of us look forward to the sunny days of summer, but for many this season can have its own little problems. Swollen ankles, sweaty feet, heat rash and other unpleasant conditions are common in warmer weather. It is little wonder that summer is the traditional time to go on holiday. A far away, exotic location may seem to be the answer, but it also has hassles of its own such as too much sun and insect bites. In view of the foregoing, the subject matter of this column this time will examine some easy and agreeable coping skills to help you enjoy the summer the way you hoped you would.

Apart from obvious strategies – wearing loose, natural fabrics, drinking plenty of liquids and slowing down, there are some very easy products that you can make at home to make life enjoyable in the heat.

Cooling Sprays

Hydrolats make very good sprays to spritz the face, wrists and hair. These are ready-made water-based products with many different properties and are produced by the distillation process.[1] They can be obtained from an aromatherapist who will also be able to advise which ones you need. Be warned, however, that although not unpleasant, they do not always smell the way the plant does. They do not need to be diluted and are very gentle in their action. Their shelf-life varies, but they last longer if kept cool.

There are two methods of making your own sprays. One way is simply to put ten drops of your chosen essential oil into a pint of cool, boiled water and shake it up. It will need to be shaken each time you use it. This can be used to spray rooms as a freshener, on your ironing when pressing, as well as spraying on oneself. A smaller quantity can be placed in a 100ml spray bottle for use in the car, your handbag or on the bedside table. During the night sweats of the menopause, sprays are a gentle way of cooling down speedily.

An alternative can be made by making a tisane.[2] Tisanes are effortlessly made by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried herbs. The mixture is then covered and allowed to infuse. A herb such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) yields an excellent spray of refreshing lemon scent and can also be drunk hot when the evenings turn chilly, as they often do in summer, or cold with ice cubes on hot, sticky days. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) makes a good personal spray for the car because it is renowned for its assistance to those feeling fatigued. It has a fresh smell, causing one to breathe a little deeper. Tisanes do not keep for more than two or three days. Keeping them in the refrigerator prolongs their life and ensures that they are more cooling. If making a tisane with dried herbs, use less plant material. Please make sure that the plant is what you think it is before ingesting.

Soothing Lotions

Hot, tired feet can benefit enormously from a lotion spray made from cool, boiled water and lotion mixed half and half. Add to this five drops of essential oil of cypress (Cupressusus sempervirens) and five drops of lime (Citrus limetta) (ten drops in total) to each 50mls. This should be massaged slowly into hot, tired feet. Remember that slow massage relaxes whereas speedy massage invigorates.

Too much sun can result in soreness and damage to the skin. An excellent after-sun lotion is made by mixing 100mls of base lotion with ten drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), ten drops of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and ten drops of sandalwood (Santalum album). This is a very nourishing blend of essential oils which will quickly help to reduce inflammation, assist with granulation and promote tissue regeneration. This combination of essential oils will also prevent infection due to the antibacterial properties of the essential oils. This lotion may also be applied to insect bites and therefore requires you to take only one bottle of treatment in your luggage. For dry skin which is not burned, grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera) or cream will mix just as easily with the above essential oils.

Staying Cool in the Garden

Even a small garden will enhance the warm days of high summer. Sitting in the shade soaking up the energy of sun and summer breezes is truly restorative, as are the various fragrances emanating from the flowers. Calm pursuits, for example sitting in the shade pressing flowers or sorting collected blossoms to make pot-pourri for half an hour, do not take very much out of a day but certainly help one to feel composed. Living in close proximity to others, however, means one has to share their choice of garden music and noise of other outdoor pursuits. This can partly be overcome by planting small trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the garden, which help to cut down noise. Trees give privacy and enhance the effects of the gentlest zephyr. Water features with flowing water are also refreshing and pleasant to listen to. I invested in a tape of bird song to help cut out the aggravating, invading noises. In the evening, alfresco meals with scented floating candles are enjoyable.

Summer can be draining, but with a little thought and planning it can be a time to recoup and restore.


1. Payne Barbara. Hydrolats for therapeutic use. Positive Health. 44: 19-21. Positive Health Publications. 1999.
2. Payne Barbara. Tisanes and their use for minor ailments. Positive Health. 55: 14-16. Positive Health Publications. 2000.


Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion (Aust). Australia. 1995.
Lawless Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia. Element Books. Great Britain, 1995.
Price Shirley and Price Len. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. Churchill Livingstone. London. 1999.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Barbara Payne

Barbara Payne taught clinical aromatherapy in various hospitals in the North of England, for School of Health, University of Hull, and was principal of an IFA and IFPA accredited college of clinical aromatherapy, for many years. She served as an inspector and examiner and was Chair of Education for the ISPA, (now IFPA). Barbara had regular interviews with BBC radio and appeared on national television occasionally and lectured annually for the RHS. Having contributed to Positive Health over many years, Barbara has now decided to retire from her PH Expert Regular Column after Issue 154 in Jan 2009. She can be reached on Tel: 01482 835358;


    Aromatherapy creams & candles. Heal naturally No side effects. Holistic treatments, powerful courses

top of the page