Stress. It happens. There are certainly those days when the tangle of deadlines, bills, chores, and appointments on my schedule just seem like way too much to handle. Add to this the sporadic dinging and buzzing of emails, texts and calls, and it can be tempting to throw my phone out the window and plop myself down on the couch in protest. Sound at all familiar to you? Lately I've been enjoying this DIY salve as a gentle relaxation-helper during the day. With carefully selected essential oils that refresh and reset the senses, and a touch of magnesium oil to help slow down the body and mind, it is a quick, luxurious treat. I recommend whipping up a few jars of this Stress Soothing Balm to tuck away in bags and pockets for some trusty, on-the-go tension relief.
It may seem silly to think that some obscure homemade balm could have any real effect on stress and mood, however accumulating research has revealed that essential oils and magnesium oil stimulate significant biochemical relaxation responses in the nervous system. I know, I know...you are probably anxious to get on with the recipe already. But I can't help myself; the science behind all of this is just too cool not to mention.
Essential oils work through a complex chain of reactions in the olfactory or smell-related branch of the nervous system. Put simply, the fragrant compounds in essential oils are detected by the smell receptors in the nose, and a message is then sent to the olfactory bulb in the brain for processing. Interestingly, this olfactory bulb is found in the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that also controls emotions and memory. This proximity and connection means that our sense of smell is closely tied in with both the way we feel and how we remember things. Certain fragrances, such as those in essential oils, can actual shift patterns of thoughts and emotions for the better.
Magnesium is also known for its calming effects. Generally known as the "relaxation mineral," it is required for an impressive 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Primarily it works to promote healthy nerve and muscle function, manage glucose metabolism and regulate energy levels. Under stressful conditions, the body requires an immense amount of magnesium to keep up with increased demands in all of these areas. Thus, for those coping with chronic stress, magnesium deficiency is quite common. But to complicate things, a lack of magnesium in turn amplifies the stress response, making damages overall much worse. Replenishing magnesium stores is therefore an important tool for both preventing and managing stress. This post on magnesium burn rate explains this interaction in greater detail. The magnesium oil used in this recipe is meant to provide a small amount of relief, however you may find that additional supplementation with topical magnesium or other forms of the mineral may be very helpful as well.
In summary, here is a quick list of the different ingredients I used in this salve, and my reasons for tossing them into the mix:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a gentle and nourishing carrier oil, filled with vitamin E for the skin
Magnesium Oil: relaxes the muscles and blood vessels, eases spasms
Lavender Oil: promotes balance and calm, associated with stress and pain relief
Cedarwood Oil: known for relaxing and soothing qualities, especially when used for massage
Vanilla Extract: a common antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, known for improving mental performance
DIY Stress Soothing Balm
By Kayla- Radiant Life
1/2 oz beeswax
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon magnesium oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops cedarwood essential oil
20 drops vanilla extract
Measure out extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
Weigh out about 1/2 oz of beeswax. If you prefer a softer salve in general, use a bit less. If your beeswax is in a bar and not pastilles, shred or shave so that it will melt easier.
Place beeswax and carrier olive oil in a double boiler and melt. Use low heat to preserve integrity of the oil. If you do not have a double boiler or don't feel like scraping the beeswax out of it later, simply place ingredients in a mason jar and hold over a pan filled with water as shown in this post.
Remove from heat and add magnesium and essential oils. Whip quickly with a fork and pour directly into a small glass jar or tin. Experiment with different size jars so that you have some for your home, and some smaller ones to slip in your pocket for on-the-go.
Place the jar in the refrigerator or freezer to set. Remove when hardened (likely no more than 30 minutes). Apply to forehead, temples, neck, shoulders or wherever may need some tension relief.
*Note: when working with essential oils, be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions and check to ensure that all selections are well-suited for individual health circumstances.