Lavender Essential Oil and Stress Relief: A Beautiful Duet

Essential Oils, Healthy Living, Relaxation, Stress

Lavender Aromatherapy Essential Oil

I recently began a new series of posts on my self help blog, Self Help Daily, about essential oils and aromatherapy. I have become a HUGE proponent of essential oils and can currently be found preaching their benefits to anyone who will listen!

I will be adding a series of articles, posts, and reviews here on the mental fitness blog that highlight essential oils that are beneficial to mental fitness, relaxation, and stress relief – subjects we focus on here.

First up, one of my absolute favorite essential oils, Lavender.

Lavender is associated with relaxation and for good reason. There is something incredibly relaxing and comforting about the fragrance of lavender.

I use lavender aromatherapy and essential oil absolutely everywhere in the bedroom and master bath.  Candles, pillow sprays, essential oil… you name it, it’s there. I want that entire area of the house to feel like a relaxing spa and have achieved the desired effect! Lavender simply causes your body and mind to unwind and I love the way that feels at the end of a long day.

Lavender oil actually has even more going on for it than stress relief and relaxation, however. It is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties as well. 

Due to its relaxing aroma, lavender oil is often the only sleep aide needed to help sleep come faster. That’s why I routinely spray a little lavender essential oil on my pillow.  There is even a Lavender Spray on Amazon that helps release tension and soothe the body and mind as you prepare for sleep. The sleep mist even comes with a free audio.

When I recommend essential oils, lavender is usually the first one out of my mouth. There are so many that have wonderful benefits, but lavender has what I consider to be one of the best effects you can hope for – RELAXATION.

If you’re new to the world of aromatherapy and essential oils, I hope you’ll keep a very open mind about their usefulness. I once kind of doubted that they were as “wonderful” as people said they were.

After using them for months, now, I realize that the people who claimed they were “wonderful” didn’t do them any justice. They’re far better than that!

While we’re on the subject of stress relief and dealing with stress, I’d love for you to check out a comprehensive article called 123 Proven Ways to Reduce Stress and Relax. Lots of great information!

Make each moment count double,

~ Joi

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How to Be More Confident in the New Year

Mental Fitness

Quote Graphic About Confidence

by Brooke Faulkner

You hear it everywhere, from people to the media, to be more confident in yourself. Although a very worthy goal, it’s much easier said than done. Self-esteem issues plague just about everyone, some more so than others.

This makes it especially difficult to trust yourself and your instincts. However, no matter how hesitant of a person you are, a more confident and self-assured life is never out of reach. Confidence, like many other traits in life, is a habit. You can’t turn it off and on like a light switch.

It must be worked on and practiced every day. Through repetition, you will train yourself to realize your unique strengths and achieve things you never thought possible before. All you have to do is be willing to accept help and take the first step to a more confident you in 2018. Here’s how:

Counseling for Your Brain

Confidence is a mindset, but your mind can work against you when you’re trying to adopt this new way of thinking. This is where neurocounseling comes in. This field of counseling is based on the brain and how it functions.

When researchers discovered patients’ psychological issues were rooted in the makeup of their brain, they knew a new form of counseling was called for. Instead of using observation alone to track the progress of a patient, biofeedback and imaging scans are used in neurocounseling to give more tangible results.

Brain imaging tests can give counselors a 70 percent chance of correctly diagnosing their patients, a much higher success rate than symptom observation alone. When counselors discover what’s causing the irregular brain waves that indicate mental health issues, they can form a holistic treatment plan that will directly affect the source of the problem.

The end goal is to retrain your brain to form new cells and connections to induce behavioral change through brain chemical alterations. Counselors do this by teaching you self-regulation skills to control how you think and act.

By teaching you to control your heart rate, breath, and even body temperature, neurocounseling has the potential to increase blood flow and activity to the areas of your brain that control your emotions, and therefore your confidence.

Get a Life Coach

Although developing self confidence happens inwardly, you can reach your self-esteem goals faster by enlisting the help of a life coach. These professionals are educated in a variety of tools and practices to help their mentees get on the right track.

The purpose of a life coach is not to do the work for you but help you find the ways that work best for you to make the changes you want in life. They not only motivate, but also help you strategize and hold you accountable to your goals. Having a life coach will increase your chances of success even more so than going on your own.

Knowing you have someone in your corner that wants to see you achieve your goals as much as you do is the greatest encouragement you can receive in your endeavor to improve your confidence. Depending on which part of your life you’re lacking confidence in, there’s a specialized life coach that can help.

Whether you want to improve your health, work, or find your overall purpose, your coach will be trained to assist you in a multitude of ways. There are even life coaches that specialize in specific problem areas, such as careers, finances, relationships, and spirituality.

If you’re not ready or feel comfortable with face-to-face interactions with a coach, you have the option of being coached online. This is especially useful when you’ve moved to a completely new place. Your life coach can advise you on how to settle in and what your next steps should be to make yourself more at ease. This can all be done from the comfort of your home since you’re able to choose an individual that’s just right for you instead of someone who’s right in the area.

Practice Wellness Techniques

In addition to neurocounseling and life coaches, there are several wellness techniques you can do on your own to improve your confidence. One of those techniques is visualization. By visualizing a clear mental picture of the confident person you want to be, you begin to see the possibility of it happening.

The more detailed the image is, the more motivated you will be to make it happen. The chances of you actually attaining that goal increases as well. This is because your brain interprets the mental images in your mind as if they are real.

Your brain is then primed to send messages throughout your body to perform in a way that fits the image. When you visualize the end result of your goal, that’s called “outcome visualization”. However, there’s a second kind of visualization that should be paired with the aforementioned method to achieve the best results.

This technique is called “process visualization” and is where you imagine yourself taking the necessary steps to become more confident. By combining these two types of visualization, you are more likely to take the actions you need to succeed and realize your goal. Another wellness technique you can utilize is meditation.

In short, meditation is the training of the mind. This practice eases stress from your body and helps you become more aware of yourself. As a result you’ll find that you’re a much happier person. You can achieve these results in one of two ways:

  • The first method is concentration meditation. This involves focusing on a single thing, be it your breath, a sound, or an object. Whenever your mind starts to wander to other thoughts, refocus your attention on the thing you’ve chosen.
  • You can also practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation differs from the concentration technique in that you are not to ignore the various thoughts that cross your mind. Instead, acknowledge your thoughts, but then let them go. Don’t dwell on one thought for too long. Just observe how your mind thinks. Your thoughts may be chaotic at first, but you will find balance and confidence as your meditation practice continues.

You’re self-esteem may be at a low point this new year, but that doesn’t mean you have to end it that way. There are many steps you can take to have a more confident 2018. Neurocounseling is an option you can look into as well as finding a life coach. Just make sure you practice some wellness techniques while you do. If you follow these tips, a more confident you will be well in reach this year.


Improve Your Brain’s Health with Walnuts

Brain Food, Healthy Living, Mental Fitness

If you’re as infatuated with walnuts even half as much as I am, you’ll love this.

Studies have found that antioxidant-rich walnuts are a very powerful “brain food.” One particular study – published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease –  has found that including walnuts in your diet can help reduce the risk, delay the onset, slow the progression of, or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

How exciting is that? Simply by incorporating something crunchy, fun to eat, and delicious into your day, you can do your brain a world of good.

It’s believed that the high antioxidant content of walnuts are what set them apart. The antioxidants are a contributing factor in protecting the brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Walnuts have more than just antioxidants going for them. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals.  In fact, the are the only nut that contains a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (an omega-3 fatty acid that has heart and brain-health benefits).

Toss walnuts in cereal, oatmeal, salads, smoothies, or eat them right out of a candy dish.

Delicious AND healthy? It doesn’t get any better than that.


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The Importance of Sleep for Your Mental Health

Healthy Living, Mental Fitness

Tulip and Huck

by Brooke Faulkner

Sleep. It’s not just a morning love affair with your warm cozy bed, it’s essential to your survival. It is as important as eating, breathing, and keeping an adequate water intake. Slumber is a way to refresh your eyes and your body while the brain restores itself. It helps your mind clear out the unnecessary “clutter” that accumulates within it throughout the day. Sleep helps you in your waking life to make decisions, create and organize memories, make creative connections, and learn/remember how to perform specific physical tasks.

Despite the importance of sleep on our functioning, it is severely lacking. In the US, 70 million adults suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and movement syndromes (commonly known as restless leg syndrome) are only a few of the most common 70 different types of known sleep disorders.

Over half of all insomnia cases in the United States directly correlate to psychological stress, anxiety, and depression. Chronic sleep problems affect 50 to 80 percent of patients seen in a psychiatric practice, compared to just 10 to 18 percent of the general U.S. population.

The point: those suffering with depression and anxiety are more prone to sleep disorders, and those with sleep disorders are more prone to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Cause or Effect?
For many years, sleep problems were thought to be a symptom of mental problems, but new studies suggest that the opposite may be true. New or worsening mental health conditions may actually stem directly from a lack of sleep.

A lack of sleep can cause a decrease in alertness and diligence along with a general decline in mood and energy. Sleep issues such as insomnia have more than just drowsy effects on your brain. They have negative effect on other parts of the body like the central nervous system, the immune system, the digestive system, and the respiratory tract.

Whether a lack of sleep is causing an increase in mental illness issues, or the mental illness issues are causing a lack of sleep, both exacerbate one another, and trying to pinpoint which came first will really only keep us going in circles. So instead of searching for the answer to which came first, let’s focus on what is easily within reach. Sleep; let’s get some.

Focus on these to improve sleep:

Sleep Hygiene: This involves creating a series of different habits that are necessary to have a restful slumbrous sleep.

  • Make sure you are spending an appropriate amount of time asleep.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes or less.
  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants like nicotine before bedtime.

Live Stressless:

Feng Shui your bedroom:

Mental health issues can go far deeper than a sleep problem and often need specific treatments on their own to be resolved or relieved. But correcting one pillar of health, one habit that directly affects mental stability, can help make overall treatment more effective. At the end of the day, it may not be the end-all-be-all but treating a sleep problem can help to alleviate the mental health issues an individual is suffering from. By addressing what is within your control, and acknowledging the status of your own mental health, you can help yourself contribute to an effective treatment.


10 Banned Foods that Every American Should Stop Eating (Infographic)

Healthy Living, Infographics

10 Banned Foods to Avoid

Are you eating food that’s already banned in other countries but is still allowed to poison and kill Americans? Learn these pernicious ingredients and common foods through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.

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Healthy Alternatives to: Finding Happiness in Exercise and Meditation

Addictions, Healthy Living


by Brooke Faulkner

The end of October signaled a crisis in our country when Trump was forced to declare a state of emergency because the opioid epidemic claimed so many lives. Dependency on medical grade prescriptions has led to tens of thousands of overdoses on dangerous prescription medication like fentanyl. This emergency calls for a shift in the way Americans, and frankly the world, are treating their pain and thinking about treatment for their illnesses.

Prescription medication can be dangerous for a number of reasons aside from its addictive qualities. For example, narcotic medications like Xanax have been proven to contribute to the symptoms of depression in some patients. This makes supplementing with alternative treatment options even more necessary for your overall health and wellness. If you do plan to make changes or additions to your treatment plans, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional before making those adjustments.

Why We Choose Medication In The First Place

There are many reasons why people choose to begin a medication treatment plan. Symptoms like chronic pain and anxiety can be challenging to live with. People living with depression often don’t understand everything about their diagnosis and rely on medication to feel better. Others take medication to help with chronic pain developed over the course of their lives.

Whatever the reason you take medication, you have most likely grown somewhat dependent on it and its ability to make you feel better and make your day a little easier. This makes giving up unhealthy medication even more challenging.

But what if you could find a healthy alternative to your medication without feeling like you’re giving something up? There are so many different options for people considering trading in their medication for something potentially healthier.

Alternative Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

When you begin to feel like your depression medication is no longer working for you, there are some healthy routines you can incorporate into your daily regimen to increase the likelihood of its success.


Exercise can be extremely beneficial to your body and mind if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. To begin, exercise helps reduce inflammation in your brain that can lead to anxiety and nervousness as well as promote neurological growth.

Exercise also helps decrease stress caused by the challenges of life. When you begin to feel stressed, your body responds by tightening up, which causes neck and shoulder tension as well as painful headaches. Exercising releases endorphins that help relieve tension in the body and make you feel happy.


There is a common misconception about meditation that you have to be spiritually devout in order to experience it more perfectly. This is definitely a myth. Meditation is absolutely practiced by spiritual monks and gurus, but they are certainly not the only ones.

Meditation is not solely a means of connecting to your spirit. Meditation is a means of connecting your body and your mind. When your mind and your body are connected and working in unison, the health benefits are extremely notable.

For example, the calm, zen-like state that your body goes into when you are meditating can help reduce anxiety and stress by quieting the loud, disruptive things in life. Meditation has also proved to be useful for your immune function and decrease inflammation at the cellular level.

Going the Extra Mile


Many people who have found success in alternative medication have chosen to give back to their community and help others find alternative methods for treating their depression or anxiety by pursuing careers in psychiatric care, opening yoga studios or studying chiropractic. These people have truly gone the extra mile in their recovery process by facing their fears and choosing to do something to combat those same fears in other people rather than let the fear rule them.

If you are someone who is not having success with your medication regimen, consider doing some research on alternative options. Not only can prescription medications be extremely dangerous to your health. Perhaps now is the time to find a new routine that is more beneficial for your overall wellness.

10 Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease, Infographics

Alzheimer's Disease Signs and Symptoms
Alzheimer’s Disease Signs and Symptoms, courtesy of


Taking Mental Health into Your Own Hands

Mental Fitness

by Brooke Faulkner

Mental health doesn’t behave the same way other physical illnesses do. While they all have a list of possible symptoms that lead doctors and other health practitioners to solving any riddle, because of the way mental illnesses behave in different people, sometimes true diagnoses can go too long without a solution.

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental illnesses all manifest differently in different people, depending on many outstanding factors, like personality, upbringing, current environment, and more. It’s not as easy as checking a list of boxes and realizing, oh, this person has the flu, or has a cold — and because of that, many people suffer without proper treatment.

There are many ways to get your doctor to listen up, especially if they are a little less than motivated when it comes to giving you a proper diagnosis. And perhaps they aren’t hesitating on purpose; it might be that you aren’t able to describe your symptoms in a way that they understand — in which case, the solution is a simple fix to doctor-patient communication.

Helping Your Doctor Understand

Many people suffering from mental illnesses are also burdened with other, less pervasive illnesses that can have a negative effect on the their attempts to find help. For example, imposter syndrome applies to more than the work you get done in the office — if you’ve never been properly diagnosed with depression, going to your doctor might become a stressful event.

You wonder if you’re really suffering enough to justify it, if perhaps you’re wasting the doctor’s time, maybe there’s nothing wrong at all and you just need to “buck up” — but all of those thoughts and feelings are symptoms of the hard-hitting self-esteem bombs that come hand in hand with depression and imposter’s syndrome.

The first step to finding proper treatment for mental illness is accepting that you’re suffering and that you deserve to seek help. Once you’ve accepted that, then comes the challenge of approaching a doctor with your fears and concerns, and being thorough enough with your symptoms that they’ll understand and come to the correct conclusion.

Don’t be afraid to get personal with your doctor about the ways you feel, the negative thoughts you have regularly, and how it affects your day to day life, whether positive or negative. Emphasize the things that have the biggest effect — do you struggle focusing at work? Do you have a difficult time getting to work in the first place, let alone getting anything done? Don’t be embarrassed, and allow yourself to be completely honest about everything you say and all of the answers you give to questions. This is the first step to taking control of your illness, rather than it taking control of you.

You do not need to protect it or be ashamed of it, and being honest about the ways it affects you is the first step to getting there and proving to yourself that not only is it possible, but you deserve to be treated.

Keeping Records of Visits

Whether you consult a family practitioner, a therapist, a school counselor, or another professional, it’s smart to be taking notes while you’re in the discussion. You should also consider taking notes with you to the meeting. Days before the appointment, begin writing down instances where your illness has impeded your regular day-to-day, write down the feelings you have and the thoughts that plague you. That way, when faced with questions, you won’t have to struggle with descriptions or forgetting that you’ll miss mentioning anything.

The notes will come in handy after the appointment as well, not only in helping to boost your own research into self-care and other options, but they will be valuable if you decide to seek another opinion. Even if you feel confident in the diagnosis the doctor gave you, there will never be any harm in seeking out another professional’s assessment, both to ensure you cover all your bases, but to also find other possible treatment options.

Some people prefer to take medication, while others might prefer something more holistic or natural — neither is more noble than the other, neither deserves more praise than the other, but one might work better than the other depending on you and your lifestyle.

Embracing Self-Care

Medication and other professional guidance on treating your mental illness is important, but so are the little things you do for yourself on the daily to boost your confidence, self esteem, and all-around mood when you need it most.

For example, things like tending to a small, indoor garden are proven to not only provide you with a healthy veggie harvest to cook delicious meals with, but taking care of plants, adopting a pet, and picking up other similar hobbies help to boost a person’s sense of worth.

Pampering your body also does wonders for mental health, whether that be through things like treating yourself to a massage or getting into the habit of working out regularly, the endorphins released during increased heart rate and blood flow help to boost your day just a little bit. While for many these endorphins aren’t enough to cure any symptoms, they certainly don’t do anything to make them worse, either!

Just like you deserve to find relief from symptoms of mental illness, you deserve to treat yourself to things that make you happy throughout the journey. Some days you may feel too tired, too stressed, too depressed, and for some of those days it’s OK — and healthy! — to stay in bed and rest, but otherwise, showing your mental illness who’s really in control can be more freeing than anything a doctor can prescribe.

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Stress Management Tips and Techniques for the Rest of Us

Relaxation, Stress


by Brooke Faulkner

Although some people have well-established yoga and meditation routines for dealing with stress, the rest of us sometimes struggle to find the time to fit preventative wellness practices into our daily routines. Though many of us would like to find the time to practice yoga and meditation every day, we may not have the inclination.

However, no matter how we look at it, eventually the avoidance of dealing with underlying problems related to stress will catch up to us unless we are willing to not only find physical outlets for stress, like vigorous cardiovascular exercise, but also to uncover the root of the problem — or problems.

Here are three concrete ways that the rest of us can deal with everyday stress and anxiety to prevent them from becoming bigger physical and psychological problems.

Go the Doctor


Nobody likes to go the doctor, but you should go before physical problems become even bigger lifestyle problems compounded over time. When you’re legitimately sick, good doctors will not only treat you, but use it as an opportunity to offer preventative services that are not required every two years, such as screening for diseases, counseling on smoking cessation and weight loss advice. It’s an opportunity to maximize your trip to the doctor.

Don’t be afraid to get something checked out even if going seems like an annoying inconvenience. For example, if you notice a lump in your neck, would you stress out and wait until it got bigger before going? It could be a matter of life or death if you do, and the compounding stress levels you experience won’t be worth it.

Though many of us avoid going to the doctor because of the inevitably high overhead costs, many hospitals and clinics

now have payment programs and financial aid to help avoid financial strain. If you don’t work out a payment plan, the provider will turn your bill over to collections. Nobody wants to procrastinate to the point of going into medical debt and getting a dreaded collection notice. Instead, save yourself the headache and plan ahead by working out monthly installments with your provider.

Quit smoking


Ironically (or perhaps not so ironically), smokers turn to smoking as a way to relax and destress. However, it’s become evident that this habit does more harm than good to your body over time–and the good news is, it’s never too late to quit. You hear stories all the time of smokers who successfully quit after 15, 25 and even 30 years of investing in their habit. If you’re whole life centers around your next nicotine fix, you potentially miss out on a lot of things, such as the taste of food, healthy lungs, and more.

If you happen to smoke, it is definitely in your best interest to quit — even if you do so by replacing cigarettes gradually with the help of stand-ins like e-cigarettes, toothpicks, and other healthier habits.

An estimated 36.5 adults in the U.S. currently smoke cigarettes and more than 16 million live with a smoking-related disease, according to the CDC.  Vaping and e-cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative or tool in helping people quit. Studies have found e-cigarettes to be 95 percent less dangerous to people’s health than cigarette smoking, while still providing a similar stress-relieving function as traditional smoking.

Get Physically and Mentally Healthy


A healthy mind and a physically healthy body are intertwined–stress has a nasty habit of occasionally derailing both of these things. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems, and poor mental health can negatively impact physical health.

Chronic stress can increase your risk for depression. Depression sufferers often have worse physical health, as well as worse self-perceived health, than those without depression. Depression is linked to a 67 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and a 50 percent increased risk of death from cancer. Often this is because people with mental health conditions are less likely to receive the physical healthcare they need and less likely to get routine screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Getting a good dose of cardio may not be fun for everyone, but it definitely helps clear the mind, release endorphins, and produce blood flow and oxygen to the brain. You can also reap those benefits from simply walking 35 minutes a day.  Regular exercise three times a week can even reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression potentially brought on by various stressors in your life.

With preventative practices, there are many methods to relieve stress and take care of your mind and body. What are some of your best stress management techniques?

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Strength in Body and Mind: How Exercise Can Make You Mentally Healthy

Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

by Jane Sandwood

Living in a rundown home that doesn’t provide for your needs can adversely affect your health, and your brain’s home happens to be your body. Exercise can help you fight off mental afflictions such as dementia, but even if you aren’t at risk of these illnesses, overall mental health can still greatly benefit from regular physical activity. While many factors contribute to mental health, physical fitness is a simple thing that most people can accomplish in just a handful of minutes a day. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or body builder to reap the mental health benefits exercise provides.

The Physical Benefits

Exercise, of course, has a host of physical benefits for your body that also extend to your mind. Stress, lack of sleep, low energy and sickness can all contribute to a decline in mental health, but studies have shown that exercise prevents all of these from happening. Regular physical activity prevents your body from becoming a drain on your brain.

The effects don’t just stop there, however. Besides preventing the negative things from happening to you, exercise brings about positive change that can increase your level of mental health. Increases in mental alertness, interest in sex and stamina are linked to higher levels of positive chemicals in the brain such as dopamine.

The Psychological Benefits

Physical effects of exercise may be an indirect boon to your mental health, but there are also many benefits that are outright psychological. Scientists have observed changes in anxiety, depression and mood not long after starting a basic exercise regime. Even more severe mental health issues such as PTSD can be alleviated with the help of exercise.

Again, exercise is not just mental illness prevention; it can make you a more mentally complete person. Increased memory and a greater capacity for learning are just a couple of the money ways your brain can improve after getting your heart rate up. More abstractly, creativity also sees a significant boost post-workout. And let’s face it, seeing a healthier you in the mirror and knowing what you have accomplished is a huge boost to self-confidence that you can’t get anywhere else.
Don’t Let You Stand in Your Way

It may seem scary starting an exercise program, or getting back to it after being away for so long. But starting off slow is starting off smart, and you don’t have to kill yourself at the gym to see results. Just make sure you do the most important part: get started.

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