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The Perfect Essential Oil For Every Thanksgiving Week Woe

November 23, 2019

Magnesium, electrolytes, hemp... whatever makes your travels a little easier, we at mbg are here for it (and have probably written extensively about it). After years of asking well-being leaders about the things that make it into their carry-ons, we've noticed that essential oils almost always make the cut. It makes sense: the little vials are TSA-friendly and easy to pack, and many of them pack an anti-inflammatory punch1.

Oils can be especially helpful during Thanksgiving and the days leading up to it; their relaxing, soothing properties can help you keep calm and carry on through last-minute errands and family reunions. Whether you're the one hosting or traveling this holiday season, here are some of our all-time favorite essential routines to lean on every step of the way.

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When you're on the road.

Essential oils are prized for their antimicrobial properties2—which can be put to the test during long, germy plane rides. Leigh Winters, M.A., M.S., a neuroscientist and psychologist, makes her own blend of 3 drops vetiver, 5 drops lavender, and 8 drops sweet orange in 1 ounce of sunflower oil as a carrier oil. "Anoint on pulse points before and/or during travel when feeling overwhelmed," she recommends in a piece on the best oils for travel. "Distilled from the roots, vetiver is incredibly grounding and boasts an earthy aroma—there is even preliminary research3 suggesting that inhalation reduces anxiety."

When you first arrive at your destination.

Sara Panton, the co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based oil company Vitruvi, finds woodsy essential oils like cedarwood, spruce, and frankincense especially lovely for cold-weather travel and swears by their grounding benefits. "Traveling with something that smells like nature is kind of my go-to," she recently told mbg. As soon as she gets to her destination, she'll place three drops of a woodsy oil into the palm of her hand and take a deep breath right before getting in a shower or bath. "Essential oils are volatile, meaning they evaporate and the scent will intensify with heat. Just by adding a few drops to your hands and rubbing them together, the scent becomes more intense." The resulting aromatic sauna of sorts prompts her to take deep breaths to clear space for the holidays ahead.

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When you're having a winter skin flare-up.

Lavender essential oil is best known for its relaxing effect on the mind, and it turns out it's soothing for our skin too. According to Sarah Villafranco, M.D., natural skin care expert and founder and CEO of Osmia Organics, it's one of the few oils that can be applied directly to the skin (most oils need to be diluted with a neutral carrier, like an almond, coconut, or jojoba). The oil's analgesic4, anti-inflammatory5, and topical antibiotic6 properties could make it a dream for your dry, irritated winter skin—just be sure to try it out on a small patch first to make sure it doesn't set off a reaction.

When you're feeling stressed about family drama.

"Bergamot always reminds me of a fancier lime, but I never stop being amazed at its ability to both calm my mood and energize my spirit," functional wellness practitioner Mariza Snyder, D.C., told me last year. She recommends smelling bergamot oil whenever you're feeling stressed out (ahem, holiday drama) for a quick refresh.

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When you're feeling bloated and sleepy after a big meal.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the feeling you had after an indulgent holiday meal. This year, carry some citrus and mint oils to the Thanksgiving table for some relief.

While essential oils can't do much in the way of curing your food hangover (or other kind of hangover), they can help ease your digestion and give you a quick burst of energy. Panton from Vitruvi likes to diffuse or smell a minty oil like a peppermint to promote healthy digestion and a citrus like lemon, lime, or bergamot for energy.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.