Whether you're working from home, cocooning, home schooling, working hard in essential or frontline services, or a mix of the above, there is surely one common emotion that most of us are feeling during this unprecedented time of national lockdown - a sense of anxiety.
If cabin fever has also set in this can only add to that feeling of unease. So I thought I'd share with you one of the practical ways I've helped my family deal with some of these feelings.
With us all cooped up, is there a way to help diffuse a potentially stressful atmosphere in our homes that is inexpensive, simple, natural and quick to introduce some zen vibes into our homes?
The answer is essential oils. Each oil offers something different and some of my favourites include bergamot - produced from the peel of the aromatic citrus fruit. It has mood-enhancing qualities, promoting feelings of joy, freshness and energy.
Chamomile can help promote inner calm and reduce anxiety, while basil essential oil, which has a soothing effect on the nervous system, eases anxiety, fatigue and mental strain. It also acts as a natural stimulant, promoting peace and clarity of mind.
While essential oils can help reduce stress and anxiety, we can also use them in our skincare, personal care, or as household cleaners or room mists.
If you fancy using this lockdown to turn your attention to upskilling or learning new techniques, essential oils and aromatherapy could be an interesting starting point. Our sense of smell is a powerful way to boost our mood and introduce some calm - something we can all use a lot more of these days!
Puttin' on the spritz
If you're a fan of skin-misting or are looking to ditch your usual toner, why not try this gorgeous option which is packed with herbal flowers, plant oils and essential oils (frankincense, lavender and sweet orange). It also uses prebiotics from chicory root, sugar beet and wheat to help calm skin - particularly if you suffer from inflammation, rosacea or acne. Holos Super Natural Activity Pre & Probiotic Spritzs, €33 from holos.ie and McCauley Chemists - mccauley.ie.
Lavender may be the most well-known of the calming essential oils, but actually there's a whopping 30pc of us who don't really like the scent. If you're on the look-out for a calming oil with a more floral, grown-up aroma, try ylang-ylang oil. Extracted from the Indonesian Cananga tree, ylang-ylang promotes feelings of comfort, calmness and increased wellbeing. This option is fully organic and will last an age (one or two drops will go a long way!). Laboratoire Altho Ylang Ylang Oil, €29, purelyorganic.ie.
Diffuse the mood
If you're looking to use essential oils in your home safely, this is a beautiful option and a firm fixture in my house - especially good if you have little ones in your home, as it uses cool mist (so it never gets hot) to disperse the oils and also uses light therapy to help promote a calming ambience. Just pop three to five drops of whatever oil you want into the bamboo diffuser, fill with water and pop on. A brilliant mood-booster in seconds. Jo Browne Diffuser, €75 from kilkennyshop.com, jobrowne.com and meadowsandbyrne.com.
Robert Kierans is the founder of new online health and wellbeing shop purelyorganic.ie, which aims to offer certified organic health and wellbeing products at an affordable price
How do oils benefit our mind and body?
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help to boost your immune system and fight infections, support digestion, boost energy levels, improve brain function, alleviate aches and pains, promote restful sleep and reduce stress and anxiety.
What other ways can essential oils can be used?
Essential oil uses range from aromatherapy, household cleaning products, personal beauty care and natural-medicine treatments. I would advise against burning essential oils as this destroys the properties of the oils. The most popular way to use essential oils is by adding a few drops to a nebuliser/diffuser. This process produces vapour that releases the essential oil particles into the air in your environment. Nebulising diffusers are the strongest, most-effective essential oil diffusers available. They use a specially designed pressurised air pump and vacuum spout that act together to vaporise essential oils straight into your environment and create ultra-pure, ultra-concentrated benefits instantly.
What oils are best for relaxation?
The best essential oils for anxiety and stress include lavender, roman chamomile, bergamot, ylang-ylang, orange, rose, frankincense and valerian.