Autumn scents soothe us when we smell them, like mom’s apple pie made with fresh apples when trees are their ripest, or the spicy scent of cloves and oranges wafting through the air as a simmer pot bubbles gently on the stove. Both summon feelings of a safe, warm, simpler time.
Traditionally, fall was the season our communities and families were called back home to help prepare for winter. We worked together to celebrate the year’s harvest, and hoped the year’s gatherings were enough to last through the winter. Our survival counted on it. But it was also a time surrounded by creature comforts that soothed and calmed us while we prepared to nurture ourselves through the frost.
This rhythm is deeply spiritual because it connects us to the rhythms of Mother Nature. And even though many of our responsibilities and duties in the modern day don’t revolve around farming, survival or the harvest like they used to, our bodies still attune to Mother Nature’s external rhythm. We are called inward and inside as the days grow shorter.
Autumn can also bring new stresses as we recalibrate to the new schedules and rhythms of the season. The carefree nature of summer falls away, and many of us get down to business just in time for the pumpkin spice latte to start trending.
To help connect to this seasonal shift, developing a therapeutic bedtime routine to coincide with the shortening days is a great autumn self-care ritual. Massaging essential oils into the feet before bedtime helps the body unwind and prepare for a restful sleep.
Essential oils have many therapeutic benefits to the body and spirit. The soles of the feet don’t produce sebum, a natural oil that can detract from the essential oil’s healing effects. This lack of sebum paired with the sole’s large pores help to draw the oils up into the body through the bloodstream at a quicker rate than they would on other parts of the body.
The bottom of the feet also contain all of the body’s nerve endings, and rubbing and stimulating them through reflexology at the end of a long day can help relax tense areas throughout the body.
Creating an effective and sweet-smelling blend of essential oils takes into account the top, middle and base note of each blend. But the soothing and healing effects of each oil can also benefit our bodies as we prepare for sleep.
TOP NOTE // Tangerine
Tangerine aids digestion, and helps cleanse and purify the bloodstream. Though many think citrus scents are invigorating, the “orange” family actually helps promote a restful sleep. I use tangerine in all my bedtime essential oil blends, since it merges nicely with many scents as a top note, tapering off with a hint of sweetness.
MIDDLE NOTE // Clove
Cloves help to boost the immune system and provide support during a time where many of us succumb to a cold or two. Using clove essential oil helps to lower stress, and helps to peel the day away from your psyche as you retreat to a sacred bedtime routine. Clove was traditionally sniffed to ward off the common cold in ancient homeopathic remedies!
BASE NOTE // Cedarwood
Cedarwood defends the body against harmful toxins, making it a great companion to clove essential oil. It relieves the immune system and helps calm sleep nervousness/anxiety – even restless leg syndrome. Cedarwood acts as a sedative, helping to release serotonin to help you fall asleep.
ESSENTIAL OIL RECIPE
– 6 drops tangerine essential oil
– 2 drops clove essential oil
– 6 drops cedarwood essential oil
– 20 to 25 ml jojoba oil (or other carrier oils, like fractionated coconut oil, or almond oil)
– 25 ml dropper bottle or mister
– 3 drops tangerine essential oil
– 1 drop clove essential oil
– 3 drops cedarwood essential oil
– 10 ml jojoba oil (or other carrier oils, like fractionated coconut oil, or almond oil)
– 10 ml roller
*NOTE: Always use a carrier oil to dilute your essential oils. Essential oils can burn the skin if not diluted properly, and I have the scar on my hip to prove it.
Before bed, sit with your legs cross-legged, and hold one foot at a time in your lap. Add three to five drops of oil onto your feet, or emulsify the oil between your palms and rub the blend into your sole. Take care to drag your thumb up through the centre of your foot, into the pad of your foot, and between your toes, and rub small circles into your heel.
Rub each foot for five minutes until the oil is absorbed into your skin. Slip into a pair of soft socks and crawl beneath the covers. It will take approximately 20 minutes for the essential oils to be coursing through your body, promoting a restorative sleep.
VANESSA KUNDERMAN is an openhearted writer and storyteller who inspires others to discover their own paths and personal stories. She has a diploma in Creative Communications, and teaches at the University of Winnipeg. Her website, Rogue Wood Supply, is a large resource of modern spiritual practices centered around crystals, botanicals, and the moon. As an intuitive and crystal guide, she hosts sacred women’s workshops, offers crystal readings, and shares weekly moon phase oracles online. Vanessa and her work has been featured in Refinery29, The New Moon project, Cottage Life Magazine, and more. She is a mother and cancer survivor living in the Canadian Prairies.