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Wellbeing: With Dawn Gibbons

"Wellbeing" is a blog series where I interview and introduce you to inspiring people doing interesting things that can connect to our mental wellbeing.

Today, meet Dawn.

Registered Massage Therapist, yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner, Naturopath and a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional living in Lewisporte, NL.

What is aromatherapy and how does it work?

Aromatherapy is a complementary modality that uses natural plant extracts (flowers, trees, herbs and resins) to support people's health and wellbeing - that could be cleaning the house, recovering from a cold, sleeping better at night or any number of benefits- there are loads of ways to use aromatherapy through inhalation and topically.

When we breathe in essential oils it stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell, including the nose and the brain. As the molecules reach the brain, they affect the limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, and stress. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body.

Note: To become a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional with the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists you must complete a minimum 420 hour of training from an approved Aromatherapy School and pass a CFA exam.

How can aromatherapy be a tool to help us support our mental wellbeing?

Aromatherapy can be used to help with anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. Here are some examples:

Calming Aromas: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavander, Majoram, Palo Santo, Rose, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang

Uplifting Aromas: Basil, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Ginger, Jasmine, Lemon, Lemongrass, Orange, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint

Energizing Aromas: Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, Black Spruce

Mixed with a carrier oil, essential oils can be used on the skin to soothe the senses as a massage oil or a fragrance oil for pressure points. Drops can be diluted and added to a bath for a relaxing soak. Essential oils can also be used on a tissue or a lava bead bracelet which can be worn or carried so the chosen aromas give therapeutic benefits throughout the day. Oils can also be blended to achieve the best results, for example 4 drops of lavender, 3 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of frankincense can be combined with 10ml of fractionated coconut oil in a roller bottle as an anxiety buster.

What would you recommend people do if they want to get started with exploring aromatherapy?

Essential oils are very versatile, you do not need to break the bank or purchase every oil out there. Start with a premixed blend or a few of the more common versatile oils. My go to oils are lavender, peppermint, tea tree, lemon and eucalyptus.

Always dilute your essential oil when using it topically, never ingest it, and remember a little goes a long way!

When in doubt, ask a professional.

Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists:

National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA):

What do you wish people knew about wellness and mental wellbeing?

Mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing. Check in with yourself on a regular basis to assess how you are feeling and how you are behaving. Your feelings ARE valid, and it is ok to feel them, acknowledge them and if you need help take it. Be kind to yourself.

How do you like to spend your free time? What do you do for self-care to support your own mental wellbeing?

I have a very wide variety of hobbies - I love to get outside, walking, hiking, gardening, snowshoeing, beach combing.

I am an avid reader, I enjoy puzzles, I have a daily yoga practice and I recently began rug hooking.

I try to set aside 20 - 30 minutes each day for myself, some days that might be me talking to my plants or taking a warm bath, meditating, having a hot cuppa tea or simply washing my face.

Where can we find you and learn more about you?

My practice is currently in Lewisporte, Newfoundland.


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