By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
Here on the Gulf Coast, we’re heading for the high point of hurricane season. Weather watchers consider the period just before and after the beginning of September as the most likely for active storms.
Just when it’s most important to be vigilant, it’s so easy to get lulled into a false sense of security if the days slide by with just the usual short afternoon squalls. Yet, it’s the cumulative effects of the constant summer sun that contribute most to conditions that result in a serious strike from the sea.
Hurricanes form when warm, moist air rising upward from the surface of the ocean gets trapped under pressure. With no outlet into the beyond, the hot, humid vapor pushed beneath begins to spin. Fueled by the energy of the heated sea, these tropical cyclones begin to take shape increasing in spiral, strength, speed and size. When they set course for collision with populated areas, these forces of nature can create catastrophic damage.
Last year, at this time, we were evacuating from the full fury of Hurricane Irma as she seemingly took shape overnight. Reflections from that episode inspired this blog about getting through crisis events:
As we, once again, enter into high hurricane season it occurs to me how significantly it parallels the same point when we launch our entire beings from the languid days of summer into the busy peak period of back to work and school.
Like the conditions that create hurricanes, this sudden shift in life’s velocity can create a greater sense of pressure, layered over unresolved stress, that can emerge as our own personal force of nature.
Which Way is Your Wind Blowing?
- Do you have issues that have been swirling below the surface?
- Do you have unrelenting thoughts or feelings trapped within due to a perceived need to keep a lid on things, or because they actually have no outlet?
- How hotly are they heating up?
- Do you feel like your energy is gathering force and beginning to spin?
If left unrelieved, unrelenting storms brewing below the surface of our being can erupt into our own emotional hurricanes.
We do, however, have the power dissipate our own internal storms. With the proper preparation, forecasting and action it can be done. And aromatherapy can serve as a powerful way to help soothe the psyche.
Essential oils are well documented for their psychotherapeutic benefits, which can be easily and readily deployed, simply through the sense of smell. The synergy of their effects expands even more when partnered with conscious self care.
With this in mind, there are some great suggestions for essential oil synergies included in this article for handling emotional hurricanes.
How Prepared Are You?
When you live in hurricane country, you learn to plan and prepare. This planning starts before hurricane season even begins. The steps are simple.
- Check your battery and candle supply.
- Stock up on bottled water.
- Keep your car’s fuel tank full.
- Put important papers in a waterproof package in a place where they are easy to grab and go.
Should a hurricane arise, your state of readiness can reduce potential damage.
Two things can happen to undermine your diligence. 1. There are either so many active hurricanes out to sea that you develop what’s known as hurricane fatigue from all the repeated prep for storms that mostly don’t manifest, or 2. The season stays so quiet that you can become lulled into being less diligent. Both cases leave you vulnerable to Mother Nature.
Hurricane Irma materialized into a monster storm seemingly without notice. The usual ability and time to stock up with necessities was literally wiped out though out the state, within a few short hours, creating widespread havoc. Many people were left facing an unprecedented forecast for a catastrophic event, without the ability to properly prepare.
Just like meteorological hurricanes, proper preparations are necessary for weathering our own internal storms.
This self-investment helps to both prevent harm by relieving stress under pressure, and to provide reserves for shoring up our stamina when an unexpected life crisis hits.
- Do you have a self care practice in place?
- Do you schedule regular down time?
- Do you have outlets to regularly relieve your sense of stress?
- Do you keep your being strong with activity?
- Do you keep your fuel tank filled with nourishing food and sleep?
- Do you fill your spirit and heart with passions and social enjoyment?
- Do you have a support network to which you can turn in times of trouble?
What is important here is finding what works for you to help you remain grounded when you begin to feel buffeted, and to provide outlets for releasing any stress so it doesn’t stay stored inside you.
Wind Down Synergy
This synergy relieves nervous tension for both mind and body, and has the bonus of helping you slip more easily into much needed sleep that can be elusive when you’re dealing with stressful circumstances.
What you’ll need:
- 2 drops Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
- 2 drops Chamomile Roman Chamaemelum nobile
- 1 drop Marjoram Sweet Origanum majorana
If using in the bath:
- 1-2 T unscented, natural body wash
- ½ C Epsom salts
What you’ll do:
- Add 5 drops per 100 mL of water to your diffuser
- Add 15 drops to your personal aromatherapy inhaler
- If using in the bath:
- Mix 5 drops of the Wind Down Synergy into the body wash.
- Mix the body wash blend with ½ c Epsom salts.
- Add under warm, running water.
- Soak and enjoy.
Cautions: None Known
What is Your Forecast?
When hurricane conditions are ripe, and our preparations are in place, we start to pay closer attention to the weather forecast.
Computer modeling (though not perfect) has become quite accurate in determining if a storm might form, how bad it will be, and the track it might take. This information helps us create appropriate action plans.
Once a storm reaches hurricane status, it is ranked on a wind scale as a means of measuring for potential levels of damage. These wind force warnings are ranked from Category 1 – 5.
Categories 3 and above are considered major hurricanes. All are deemed damaging depending on the strength and foundation of structures in their path. In general, for a Category 1, folks would bring in the lawn furniture and ensure their homes are secure. Category 5 can cause complete catastrophic destruction and calls for evacuation ahead of the hit.
This level of awareness is also important for planning appropriate action when an emotional hurricane may be brewing. As we bustle through our busy lives, we may have a tendency to tamp things back down putting our level of stress under greater pressure,
And we may not be minding what bubbles up from below the surface experienced as a generalized sense of nervous tension, restlessness, or distress. Yet, this can serve as our own warning system to take time out, tap inward and take an introspective look at our own emotional wind scale.
Many active named storms actually blow themselves out at sea as they lose their spin and speed with a loss of fuel, or relief from the pressure. Practices like meditation, prayer and other forms of self-reflection allow us to clarify what is happening within, and help to calm the mind potentially creating our own sense of unwinding.
Some calming and clarifying practices to consider are:
- Movement such as walking, yoga or swimming
- Mentally soothing activity such as knitting or coloring
- Talking to a friend or loved one
- Talking to a therapist
Use this synergy to help calm the mind and soothe the senses when seeking inner wisdom through introspection. This synergy encourages a sense of strength, while helping you ground and rebalance feeling of distress.
- 2 drops Ho Wood Cinnamomum camphora
- 1 drop Blue Cypress Callitris intratropica
- 1 drop Buddha Wood Eremophila mitchellii
- 1 drop Ginger Root CO2 Zingiber officinale
What you’ll do:
Cautions: Blue Cypress should not be used with pregnancy or breastfeeding mothers. For Ginger Root CO2, we recommend a maximum dilution of 1% for topical applications.
What is Your Action Plan?
When the storms don’t blow themselves out before getting to the shore, we make action plans to minimize damage where possible. Storms on a collision course with populated areas create the most potential for the highest levels of damage.
Action plans depend on information from the forecast about not only the storm’s path, but also how the hurricane is projected to pass through after it hits.
The hurricane category system only warns for possible destruction from sustained wind speed from the storm. So we often think of direct hits with high winds moving through quickly as the “most catastrophic.” But a larger storm, moving at a slower speed, can actually cause greater damage because of the unrelenting rain and coastal flooding.
And while many are focused on the damage from the direct hit, what’s called the “dirty side” of the storm can create massive chaos coming up the backside from a combination of spin plus forward movement, churning some of the highest winds, tornadoes, and the most significant storm surge.
The same is true when your own storm develops on a collision course with those in your path. Without an action plan, we may cause damage whether we spin through at high speed, hang out overhead with an unrelenting rain, or lash out from our dirty side on the back end of the storm.
Much like the storms that change course in the last moments before landfall, having an advance action plan can help you minimize damage between you and those in your track.
Here are two practices to help you pause and potentially prevent damage in your path. Both require advance preparation so they can be readily implemented if needed.
Aromatic Deep Breathing
The deep breathing exercise not only helps you calm your mind, it also soothes the senses by signaling the brain to slow down. Taking time for deep breathing also creates the opportunity to think before you speak when emotions may be controlling your better nature.
- Hold your personal aromatherapy inhaler under one nostril
- Gently hold the other nostril closed.
- Inhale your blend gently, deeply, and slowly down into the lungs, feeling your belly expand, to the count of 3.
- Hold a moment.
- Exhale slowly, through the mouth, to the count of 3.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat on each side if desired.
Before You Speak
This exercise, thought to be inspired by Buddhist teachings, also helps to slow your spiral before you speak. In that moment, simply asking yourself the following questions may help to dissipate the stream spinning off from heated emotions.
- Is this kind?
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
Soothe the Senses Synergy
This synergy is exceptionally soothing and balancing to both our nervous and hormone system making it and excellent support when our emotions are spinning out of control. Use this synergy to help calm nervous tension, worry and a sense of heated agitation.
What you’ll need:
- 2 drops Geranium Bourbon Pelargonium x asperum
- 2 drops Neroli Citrus x aurantium
- 1 drop Orange Sweet Citrus sinensis
What you’ll do:
Cautions: None Known
Are You Prepared for Repairs?
The advance forecasting, preparations and action plans are intended to minimize damage potential where possible. Yet, those hurricanes that manage to make landfall do leave some amount of damage in their wake.
After the storm passes, the process of repair begins immediately. The first orders of business are the assessment of damage, clearing of debris blocking major routes, and restoration to the power grid. Without these steps, the remainder of the restoration work would not be possible.
Depending on the level, and frequency, of our emotional hurricanes, we may be able to remedy things on our own. Or we may seek the support of trusted professionals to help soothe our psyche and restore our relationships.
In either case, making amends with ourselves and our loved ones can also begin by assessing for damage, clearing debris from the path, re-establishing communication, and shoring up structural foundations for the future.
Keep in mind these are simply suggestions to inspire consideration while you check in on what is appropriate for your particular situation.
- Open heartedness to healing
- Listening with a sense of empathy
- Compassion for how you and others may be feeling
- Forgiveness of yourself and others
- Enhancing your self care routine
- Taking steps to soothe your psyche
- Letting go to make move forward.
Open Heart Synergy
This is a synergy that can help support a sense of harmony and restoration within and with others. It can clear negative energy, calm the emotions, uplift the spirit, and open a wounded heart to healing and joy, while inspiring hope for the future.
What you’ll need:
- 2 drops Rhododendron Rhododendron anthopogon*
- 2 drops Grapefruit Pink Citrus x paradisi
- 1 drop Mandarin Citrus reticulata
What you’ll do:
Cautions: Grapefruit Pink can cause photosensitivity. To avoid this, we recommend a dilution no higher than 4%.
•Rhododendron was featured at an Oil of the Month. Check back to see if will be available for general sale. If you don’t currently have it, you may wish to try the Loving Compassion Synergy from Plant Therapy’s Chakra Synergy Line.
Cappucci, Mathew. “Dissecting the Parts of a Hurricane.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Sept. 2017,
Dolce, Chris. “Three Reasons Slow-Moving Tropical Storms and Hurricanes Are the Worst.” The Weather Channel, The Weather Channel, 22 Aug. 2018, weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/slow-moving-tropical-storms-hurricanes-dangerous.
Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. CreateSpace, 2015.
“Saffir–Simpson Scale.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Aug. 2018
“SciJinks It’s All about Weather!” NOAA SciJinks :: Home, NOAA, scijinks.gov/hurricane/