Add as bookmark

Use The Dark Days To Lighten Up

by Barbara Payne(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 83 - December 2002

Emotional Effects of Winter

There is a saying that the same man cannot put the same foot in the same river twice. Outside influences and emotional ups and downs operate chemical changes within us, which in turn continuously affect the way we feel and ultimately define our health status. The seasons I have noted make terrific changes on us even if we do not realize it. The shortened dark days of December and the cold make some people retreat into their winter woollies only to emerge in spring. My observations over the years as a health practitioner have shown that by helping clients reduce the hustle and bustle in their lives they can improve their own health and build self-esteem.

December can be hectic and can also be a time of emotional upheaval due to the demands of others. Financial limitations and extra tasks such as shopping, preparing your seasonal celebrations and socializing can take its toll.

In this busy season we need to remember to take time out in order to recoup and relax.

"One by one the sands are flowing,
One by one the moments fall;
Some are coming, some are going;
Do not strive to grasp them all."
Adelaide Proctor: One by One

This leads us to the thought that winter holidays could be perceived as a wonderful opportunity to nurture ourselves, raise our self regard and bring much needed quality into our new year instead of pressurized quantity. Simple strategies are the best. Why not invest in an essential oil burner and a few oils or make your own scented bubble bath or even devize a personal perfume spray using essential oils to suit your needs. Whilst you do this, reflect on what your high spots were in the year and review how your life has changed. If you are feeling unsatisfied with the past year you may like to speculate how it could be enhanced.

Using a Burner

When choosing an essential oil burner make sure you acquire one with a large bowl. This will facilitate the bowl not drying out whilst the candle is still lit and cracking the bowl. When preparing your burner make sure the surface you are putting it on will not suffer from heat and that it is in a safe place. Fill the burner with hot water as this saves the energy of the candle being wasted on heating the water. Light your candle in the usual way and drop two or three drops of chosen essential oil onto the hot water. Check at regular intervals to make sure the burner has not dried out.

Do not leave it unattended. The ambience of a pleasant background aroma is very nourishing to the psyche as well as physically. There are lots of aromas to try depending on what you want, for example, to feel energized why not try citrus or light floral tones, or for relaxation, woody base notes, or make a blend of two or three. My favourite blend for winter is 2 drops frankincense Boswellia carteri, 1 drop cinnamon bark Cinnamomum zeylanicum and 2 drops mandarin Citrus reticulata.

Scented Bubble Bath

This is very easy to make and enjoyable.

15 grams soapwort root (can be obtained from health stores or specialist shops);
15 grams your chosen dried herbs;
1.45 litres water;
10 drops essential oil.

Crush the soapwort root and herbs together;
Place them in a pan with the water;
Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes on a low heat;
Leave covered until cool then add essential oils;
Bottle the bubble bath into pretty bottles;
Before using shake well and swish the bath water;
This can also be used as a safe mild shampoo.

About soapwort – soapwort, Saponaria officinalis or 'Bouncing Bet', is a very gentle natural detergent and although it can be bought dried in herb stores it is also very easy to grow and does not even mind living in shady places as long as they are damp. It is about 1 metre high. Being of the Caryophyllaceae (carnation) family it has very attractive pink or white flowers in summer and has a floral and slightly clove-like smell. It is a hardy perennial so it will come back every year. Its uses are well documented from ancient times for skin conditions such as eczema and acne. This may be due to the presence of saponins which are anti-inflammatory and soapy in water. Many museums use it to clean delicate old fabrics because of its gentle but powerful cleaning properties.

A Personal Perfumed Spray

Making a perfume with essential oils is also very pleasurable.

5 mls of vodka or white rum;
50 mls hydrolat-floral water (available from good aromatherapy outlets);
20 drops essential oil.

Mix the essential oil with the alcohol. This has to be mixed first because essential oil molecules are mostly hydrophobic and do not like water but they will blend very well with the alcohol.
Pour on the hydrolat and shake. The mix may go opaque.
Bottle into small spray bottle and shake each time before use.

The above is a very simple way of making a scented product to raise your spirits and books about making perfume can now be obtained easily. They explain the 'notes' of the oils and how fragrances can be matched to our personalities. So why not treat yourself to one of these? The pleasure of using something one has made oneself is very satisfying and the quality of these products is very good.

The changes which are on offer every moment of every day can be challenging but if we utilize these we can reap the rewards of relaxation and contentment.

References and Bibliography

Coxe Paula Peisner. Finding Peace Letting Go and Liking It. Sourcebooks, Inc. 1994.
Duff Gail. Natural Fragrances Outdoor Scents for Indoor Uses. Sidgwick and Jackson. 1989.
Bremness Lesley. Herbs Pocket Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. 1990.


  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