The Sunshine State - Naturally Blended

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Naturally Blended

The Sunshine State

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In the midst of a recent tropical storm, spanning several days, I experienced a longing for the usual abundant sunshine to reappear. It’s not the drenching I mind so much. It is the lack of sunlight. A native Californian, my heart is happiest under the warmth and light of eternal summer. After living around the country for more than two decades, when it was time to take the healing of my mind, body and spirit to another level, I was called to return to the sun.

In Summer Solstice for the Spirit, we discussed the impact of harnessing the power of sunlight and aromatherapy to help bring illumination to areas of the spirit in need of deeper healing.

Sunlight also is vitally important to the optimal wellbeing of our body and mind.

Sunny Day Activity Web Size

First, it is necessary to our bodies for the production of Vitamin D. Known as the “Sunshine Vitamin,” Vitamin D provides broad-spectrum support of our wellness regulating at least 1,000 genes impacting virtually every tissue in our body.[1] Researchers now know Vitamin D is not only important for bone health, but also for neuromuscular function, immune function and regulation of inflammation. And, yet, it is believed up to 75% of the population is Vitamin D deficient. [2]

As researchers are looking at the links to our wellness, they are also investigating the balance between over and under exposure. Depending on geographic location and season, sunlight on a summer day “can be 1,000 brighter” than indoor lighting according to researchers.  So, for those who are inside most of the day, it can be important to get outside periodically to experience the health benefits of the sun.[3]

While supplements can help, research suggests between 5 to 30 minutes of sunshine a day, on the face, arms, legs, or back —  at least two to three times  a week — can help maintain naturally occurring adequate levels. Indeed, the Sunshine Vitamin can fill more than 90% of the dose needed by most folks.[4] During these brutally hot summer days on the Gulf Coast, I have been enjoying a daily15-minute walk in the early morning, after the sun has risen and  before the heat index takes hold, to start my day with Sunshine D.

The cycle of the sun also affects the nature of our sleep and wake cycles. When we are exposed to bright sunlight in the morning, we sleep better at night.  This is because our natural rhythm is regulated by melatonin, a hormone produced during the dark hours making us sleepy, then switched off by daylight.

Lack of sleep itself has such a profound impact on our wellness it is deserving of its own discussion in an upcoming blog. Melatonin not only plays an important role in preventing insomnia, it also plays protective role with infection, inflammation and our immune system.[5]

Lack of sunlight can also significantly depress the spirits. Increased production of serotonin, the mood-boosting chemical manufactured in the brain, has been linked to sunnier days. Lack of sunshine, can therefore, lead to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), especially in the winter months when there is less daylight. [6]

Researchers are also looking into links between Vitamin D deficiency and mood disorders such as depression and SAD.[7] There are many options for mood boosting therapies including lifestyle changes, light therapy, exercise, mind/body techniques such as yoga or meditation, supplements and medications. As with any form of depression, if SAD is significantly impacting your wellbeing, it is important to see your healthcare practitioner.[8]

So, here I sat on the other West Coast, the Gulf Coast of Florida, waiting for the sunshine to return as the skies continued to soak us in an unrelenting few days of darkness. What could I gather from these rare days of gloom? A few things emerged.  First, on dark days it is important to support our mood, whether the lack of light comes from our outer environment, or from within.  And, time slowed down by the storm allowed space for inspiration and creativity — a gift away from the day-to-day busyness. What better time to create some mood boosting aromatherapy blends?

Aromatherapy, of course, is an ideally supportive companion for helping to lift our mood, most especially through inhalation. Once smelled, the constituents from essential oils travel immediately and directly to the limbic system of our brain where mood and emotions are processed and stored. Many essential oils have been historically used just for this purpose, most especially citrus oils.

Here are a few of my favorite blends to get you started. These are proportioned for a diffuser. They may also be tripled for a personal inhaler.

Sunshine State

2 drops bergamot

2 drops lime

1 drop lemon

 Supports happy mood and positive outlook.

 

Sunny Side Up

 2 drops lime

2 drops spearmint

1 drop bergamot

 A happy, uplifting and mentally clearing blend.

 

Inner Child

 2 drops grapefruit

2 drops mandarin

1 drop spearmint

Lifts the spirits with child-like joy and optimism.

Finally, as I finish this blog, the days of abundant sunshine have reappeared, along with my normally sunny mood. I took my early morning walk and I am writing near a window that allows for abundant natural light to fill the room. But, during monsoon season here in the summer, I am prepared for the next time the gloom strikes down the sun and my mood.


Sources:

[1] Mead, M. Nathanial. “Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives. U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2008. Web. July 5.

[2] “Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 9 June 2016.

[3] Mead, M. Nathanial. “Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives. U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2008. Web. July 5.

[4] Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. “Vitamin D and Depression: Where Is All the Sunshine?” Issues in Mental Health Nursing. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010. Web. 05 July 2016.

[5] Mead, M. Nathanial. “Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives. U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2008. Web. July 5.

[6] “Unraveling the Sun’s Role in Depression.” WebMD. WebMD, 5 Dec. 2002. Web. 09 June 2016.

[7] Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. “Vitamin D and Depression: Where Is All the Sunshine?” Issues in Mental Health Nursing. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010. Web. 05 July 2016.

[8] “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 July 2016.

 

12 thoughts on “The Sunshine State”

  1. I have a question about diffusing. In 1 of my diffusers, 3 drops is plenty, and I can smell it in the room. In my other, even with a 9 drop blend , I can’t smell it. Both use the same amount of water and both run continuously for about 3 hours. Do you think the diffuser is bad, or is the room maybe too big?

    1. Loyce — A couple of things — first, each diffuser may just have a different output even though they are the same size. Also, room size does play a big factor. So, if both of your diffusers are the same size, but one of your rooms is bigger, that would definitely be a factor. I am not an expert on diffusers, so if this doesn’t help, you could contact your diffuser manufacturer for their specific recommendations.

      I do want to add that running a diffuser for more than 1 hour at a time is not recommended. After 30-60 minutes your body has received the full therapeutic value. After that, you are just using up oils and you could also cause an overload to your body’s systems. If you run it 30 minutes, turn off for at least 30 minutes before running again. And, the same with 60 minutes.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you for the information on the diffusers, Ellen. I had no idea that you shouldn’t run a diffuser for 3 hrs. That’s really good to know. This is why I love Plant Therapy; besides thir wonderful oils, I learn something new everyday. I appreciate your quick answer as well.

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