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We all want to start 2020 with an upbeat attitude! Central to being healthy is following a nutritious diet, maintaining a positive state of mind and getting enough exercise. But keeping fit is not just about increasing the number of steps we take each day or taking up a sport: it is also about looking at our daily routines and making sure that we engage in things we enjoy … otherwise our new regimes will soon fall by the wayside. Hiking in nature, wild swimming and getting involved in local sustainable, eco projects are all good ways of getting out and about, without it costing the earth in terms of monthly fees. We also need to assess any factors that may be contributing to poor posture as part of our everyday lifestyle, which can cause many common health issues such as back pain or muscular tension as well as headaches or migraine. For example, the pressure of driving in cities, standing all day at work or spending long hours in front of a computer, can all contribute to stiffness in the joints, general muscular aches and pains or nervous stress. A mainly sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise can also cause weight gain and poor muscle tone. Try to make small changes to reduce bad posture habits and find ways to address existing problems by creating new and healthy daily rituals. The good news is that aromatherapy can help you with making lifestyle adjustments and also can help in overcoming many types of common complaints!

As many people have experienced, just taking a regular hot aromatic bath can dramatically soothe stiffness of the joints and help ease muscular pain. This effect can be enhanced when natural salts, and specific essential oils are added to the bath water. The heat and buoyancy of the water alone is very therapeutic for our body, as it helps to reduce strain on our joints by reducing us experiencing our body’s full weight. Applying heat packs using essential oils (such as lavendin - lavandula hybrida) is also a well known form of therapy for sufferers of muscle pain or sports injuries, since heat alone fundamentally alleviates tension in tired muscles.

Bathing in hot water for a period of about twenty minutes daily can also decrease inflammation, swelling and pain in their joints, particularly in the neck and back. Oils such as rosemary, sweet marjoram and lavender all have analgesic (pain relieving), rubifacient (warming /increases blood flow), antispasmodic (prevents / eases spasm) and anti-inflammatory properties. Dead Sea salts dissolved in hot bath water, can also improve symptoms of arthritis, especially when carried out on a daily basis. For nervous stress, a hot aromatic bath taken before retiring is a very effective way to unwind at the end of a day, soothing the nerves whilst simultaneously releasing muscular tension. Lavender oil again is a great aid in releasing nervous tension but oils such as roman chamomile, clary sage and bergamot are also valuable for stress relief.

Applying an aromatherapy body oil directly after a hot bath is the best way to ensure that the essential oils are fully absorbed, as the pores are open when our skin is warm. I have formulated a range of essential oil blends specially for Aqua Oleum that are perfect for using in this manner:

‘Aches & Pains’ is an effective, active combination of concentrated muscle- relaxant oils, using juniper needle, sweet lavender, black pepper, white thyme and rosemary leaf. Analgesic, warming and soothing, it provides natural pain relief and helps relieve muscle spasm. Excellent for all types of cold conditions: this is one of our all-time best-selling products!

‘Vitality’ is pre and post sports body rub, based on bay laurel leaf, rosemary tips, cardamom pods and black pepper, renowned for warming, toning and strengthening the muscles. Profoundly energizing and enlivening, this blended oil helps provide a pre-exercise boost by stimulating the circulation as well as helping to avoid post exercise aches and pains. Ideal for yoga workouts too!

‘Purity’ is my unique detox body oil formulation to help with weight loss and encourage cellulite reduction. With over nine different purifying ingredients including grapefruit peel, fennel seed, coriander seed and geranium leaf, this is a highly active and invigorating synergy-blend that helps tone the skin, eliminate toxins and reduce water-retention. One of Natasha’s favourites and winner of the 'Best Aromatherapy Product' in the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2017.

‘Tranquility’ is a classic, calming and relaxing body oil based on roman chamomile and sweet lavender with a hint of green orange-blossom. Profoundly relaxing, this blended oil soothes both body and mind plus encourages restful sleep. Tranquility is ideal to apply directly after a warm bath, giving the skin a smooth, silky feel: perfect for self-massage to localized areas of tension, such as the shoulders or neck. Winner of ‘Editor's Choice’ Beauty Shortlist Awards 2017

Peppermint oil another particularly useful oil to have at home when you want to cool an localized inflamed area, for example by adding a few drops to a gel base, such as aloe vera, perhaps in combination with lavender or chamomile blue. Ginger and black pepper oils are both deeply warming in effect and are very useful for easing muscular aches, pains and stiffness used locally. But both oils need to be well diluted before being applied to the skin and may cause irritation on sensitive skin or in a hot bath. Always do a patch test before using any new essential oil on your skin.