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Essential Oils for Morning Rituals

By Jodi Cohen

A woman stretching her arms up while sitting on a bed, bathed in the warm glow of morning sunlight filtering through sheer curtains.

Want to know my secret strategy to set my day up for success?

It starts with my morning ritual – a series of intentional, deliberate, and meaningful actions that help me set the tone and intention for my day.  It allows me to map out how I want the day to unfold – ensuring that I set the direction and intention of what I want to accomplish and how I want to feel during the day

By taking even a few moments to mentally and spiritually set up my day first thing in the morning, I can be pro-active and prepared instead of being in constant reaction mode.  As I learned from my favorite childhood book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler, “Five minutes of planning can save hours of acting.”

Morning rituals – including gratitude practices, journaling, intention setting, meditation, movement or any ritual that feels supportive –  allow you to lay the foundation for a healthy and productive day.

Rituals have been found to help clear your mind and boost your mental function for better work performance.  They help you calibrate the mental and emotional filters that determine how you look at and move through your day. Mindset has been shown to shift your entire physiology, and enhance your mental and emotional capacity.  Morning rituals help set you up for a positive and empowering mindset throughout the day.

You can choose a daily ritual that’s simple and easy to maintain.  For example, a simple ritual that engages your senses, like striking a tuning fork or tuning a Tibetan Singing Bowl to engage hearing, lighting a candle to engage sight or inhaling essential oils to engage smell can help as a prompt for a state shift that helps initiate a ritual.


Use Essential Oils as Prompts for Morning Rituals

A prompt is an easy trigger or call to action that triggers your desired behavior and can be used to initiate your morning ritual. In order to change behavior, you have to prompt the behavior. Without a prompt, you can be very motivated and have the ability to perform the behavior, but there’s simply no call to action.

Ideal prompts should be noticeable and actionable.  This means you should be able to spot the prompt, ideally with one of your senses like your sense of sight or sense of smell, and you should know what to do when seeing the prompt.  A traffic light is a common prompt.  You visually recognize that you have to stop when the light turns red, and know you can drive when the light is green.

Essential oils can be used as powerful behavioral prompts, for a number of reasons. Your brain responds to smell based stimuli like essential oils within seconds.  In fact, research estimates your sense of smell to be 10,000 times more acute than your other senses. Once registered, scent stimuli travel more quickly to the brain than do either sight or sound.

Scent has direct access to the emotional center of your brain that controls your hormones and motivation levels, known as you limbic system.  On a physical level, only two synapses separate your amygdala from your olfactory nerve.  No other sensory system has this kind of direct and intense contact with the neural substrates of your brain’s emotional control center.  Your other four senses, including sound, sight, taste and touch must travel to other regions of the brain first, before reaching your limbic system.

This makes essential oils an incredibly powerful prompt for triggering desired behavior.  Fogg advises that you have to “put hot triggers in the path of motivated people”.  Essential oils are my favorite hot trigger to prompt routine and behaviors.


Ideas for Morning Rituals

Express Gratitude

I try to think of one thing to be grateful for as soon as I wake up.  It could as simple as feeling grateful that the sun is shining or that my body feels healthy. When you start your day in a state of gratitude, appreciation and abundance, you ensure that you start your day on a positive note.

Gratitude forces you to focus on what is working in your life.  It is selectively positive, reinforcing what brings you joy and crowds out the negative.  Your brain cannot multitask, meaning it cannot focus on both positive things and negative things at the same time, so by choosing gratitude, you keep yourself in a positive headspace.

Practicing gratitude is one of the fastest, easiest and most effective morning ritual strategies. Here’s why – when you are feeling grateful, and focusing on positive things, your mind shifts out of a state of worry and fear where anticipatory stress over potential future scenarios no longer trigger anxiety or overwhelm.

Without a focus on gratitude, our minds can easily drift to our pain points, like the problems, obstacles or whatever is not working in your life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. A gratitude practice helps you rewrite your internal focus so you look for and seek out positive outcomes.  I like to start and end my day with a moment of gratitude.

A gratitude practice can be as simple as starting your day by focusing on 1 – 3 things that you are grateful for, which can be as simple as having the ability to move and breathe.  In her 2016 commencement address for UC Berkeley, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg noted that “People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings”

Research back this up, noting that “In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events”.  Similarly, “a daily gratitude intervention resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy”

Heart™ blend helps amplify feelings of love and gratitude, helping to enhance your ability to experience gratitude and prime your day for success.  Apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ directly over the heart (left side of chest).


Set Your Intention for the Day

Make a plan for how you want your day to unfold.  This helps you prioritize what you need to focus on during the day instead of simply reacting as the day unfolds.  I have come to realize that your expectations, beliefs and thoughts can shape your day and you can intentionally pre-pave your day by setting intention and visualizing positive outcomes.

I have come to find that intention rituals work best when I prioritize my top three priorities for the day.  I used to make long and detailed to do lists that always felt overwhelming.  Limiting the scope to my top three priorities ensured that I almost always was able to succeed in achieving them. Further, the more clear and focused you are in your intentions, the easier it is to succeed.

Once I complete my top three tasks, I take a pause and reassess.  Sometimes, I will list three additional second tier daily goals and achieve them and sometimes I will give myself a pass and take the rest of the day off to enjoy myself.

It’s also important to prioritize joy.  Apple founder Steve Jobs was known to start his day by asking “If today was your last day, what would you want to do today?” I always try to layer in time with friends, time in nature and other activities that bring me joy in my daily intention

Essential oils can be used to help enhance your focus and amplify your intentions.  Your prefrontal cortex (the area behind your forehead) helps improve focus and processing speed. Applying essential oils on the forehead helps increase blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which  research shows can help improve attention and cognition. Focus™ blend contains essential oils like Rosemary which contains the chemical constituent 1.8-cineole, shown in research  to improve speed and accuracy on cognitive tests.

Apply 2- 3 drops of Focus™ over your temples 2-3 times daily or as needed during moments where additional focus is needed.  You can also put a few drops on a tissue or cotton ball and hold it where you can smell it.

READ THIS NEXT: Essential Oils for Focus


Ground Yourself and Your Energy

I start my day by grounding and calming my energy through yoga.  Grounding helps you connect to the healing energy of nature and the Earth.  Grounding brings you into a state of balance, both mentally and physically.

On a physical level, grounding helps you reduce inflammation, optimize organ function and improve detoxification by allowing toxins to flow out of you and into the Earth.  On the emotional level, grounding allows your thoughts and emotions to move through you more easily.  On a spiritual level, grounding enhances your connection to your intuition and spiritual guidance.  This connection results in clearer thinking and better decision making.

When you connect with the Earth, or plants that have grown from the earth, you connect to the balance of nature. The tides, the seasons, the circadian rhythm of day and night, along with the cycles of the moon all ebb and flow in balance. Your body is designed to maintain a similar natural rhythm.

When you connect to nature by consuming a plant-based diet, applying essential oils derived from plants, hiking in the woods, walking barefoot on the grass or dirt, you allow your body to align with the natural rhythm of the planet.

Essential oils and the energy of nature, especially oils from grounded plants like trees or grasses, help you ground and return your body to the state of balance to enhance your ability to change in response to your body’s demands.

Essential oils, especially those derived from grounded plants like trees which are intrinsically grounded through their root structure into the Earth.  Essential oils comprised from barks, roots, grasses, needles and resin of plants also help you pull your energy centers down into the Earth. Plants that grow under earth entrain with earth’s energies.  This is why stones, root vegetables or essential oils from root plants that share space with the Earth, match the frequency of the Earth and can be used for grounding.  Rock, crystals and minerals, in particular, are able to hold a solid vibration so when you hold one in your hand or place it near your body, you have to change your frequency to match that of the rock or mineral. This is one reason that crystals are so popular for grounding.

Natural scents, like essential oils derived from plants, also carry a vibration and smelling essential oils forces you to entrain your energy with the plant and helps connect you to nature and ground you.

Calming your nervous system helps the body ground. The Lime oil in the Parasympathetic® blend can help promote emotional grounding, encouraging a balance between the heart and mind, the connection of which helps you ground.  Apply Parasympathetic® over the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone).

Attention™ blend was designed to support children with ADD/ADHD and it works because it helps ground these kids into their bodies and when they are grounded, they are less distracted, impulsive and more focused.  Attention™ contains Vetiver, a perennial bunchgrass with very deep roots that help ground it to the Earth.  Vetiver essential oil is extracted from these deep roots and is known to grounds you mentally, physically and emotionally, often helping you explore the root of your emotional issues.  Attention™ also contains Frankincense and Cedarwood which helps us ground and feel connected to the planet and each other.  Apply 2- 3 drops of Attention™ on the bottom of the feet and back of the neck to help with grounding.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.