Since we received our first foster care placement six months ago, my husband and I suddenly found ourselves in the midst of very high-stress environment that we didn’t anticipate. Not only does our lifestyle require an enormous emotional expenditure, but we found that the cumulative effect of living in a high stress home can quickly take a physical toll on you as well.

Within weeks, we found that it was sometimes difficult to unwind and sleep at night, harder still to wake up after a night of restless sleep, and difficult to stay grounded throughout the day. We lost weight, lost sleep, and lost our patience more times than I can count.

In an attempt to combat the pressures and anxieties that swirled around us, we began to turn to essential oils to cure some of our more common ailments. Whether your stress comes from a fast-paced job that doesn’t allow much time for rest, a family situation that requires a lot of your attention and energy, or from any combination of sources of stress. You need to make sure that you’re taking care of your own health.

While your situation may look significantly different than ours, I bet you’ll find a few uses for some of these tips:

Get a good night’s rest.

I can’t stress enough the benefits of ensuring that you receive a full night’s rest. We do the same thing for ourselves that we do with our children. Each night, we fill up our diffuser about thirty minutes before bedtime to start letting a few drops of lavender essential oil work its magic. Not only is the oil therapeutically doing its job but my body now responds to the routine of having lavender at bedtime. As soon as the aroma starts to fill the air, my eyelids feel a little heavier and I can fall asleep much faster.

Aromatherapy isn’t your thing? You can still soak up the benefits of lavender essential oil even if you don’t want to diffuse it. Mix a few drops of oil with your favorite carrier oil (try almond oil or fractionated coconut oil for starters) for a focused massage. Rubbing into the soles of your feet not only activates sensitive pressure points that can be very calming, but it also allows the oils to absorb into your body quickly to soothe anxieties and worries.

Wake up refreshed.

If you’re having a difficult time sleeping at night, waking up early is sure to be even worse. Keep a little lemon oil on hand to help perk you up on mornings where you’re having a tough time getting out of bed. If you have a separate diffuser, you can always switch it on upon waking up to get the scent moving throughout your home so everyone can benefit. It’s a gentle way to wake up naturally that also doubles as a way to make your house smell and feel sparkling clean.

If you don’t have a diffuser or your family doesn’t want to share in your morning wakeup routine, putting a drop on a cotton ball located close to your bed to inhale quietly for a few moments before letting your feet hit the floor will give you a personal pick-me-up.

The invigorating aromas of citrus oils will give you a breath of fresh air perfect to start your day off right. If the smell of lemon feels a little antiseptic to you, try a different citrus oil like wild orange or grapefruit.

Relieve tension.

I can’t imagine a better way to unwind at the end of a long day than with a steamy shower. Grab a bottle of your favorite soothing essential oil and put a few drops on the floor of your shower. My personal favorites are lavender, bergamot, or cinnamon for sweet and pleasant scents that tame a stressful afternoon and make it feel more manageable.

If you’d prefer a luxurious soak in the tub, that will work just as well. After you’ve drawn your water, stir in a little bit of almond oil and a few drops of oils. Plan to spend at least twenty to thirty minutes soaking to get the full effect of the oils. When you emerge, your stress levels will feel manageable and your skin will feel soft and supple.

Modify your perfume.

Do you find yourself more stressed during certain times of day? For me, as my morning caffeine wears off and early afternoon creeps up, I can usually feel my patience dwindle from the stress and my anxiety start to rise. Instead of the perfume I used to wear, I now carry a small roller bottle of lavender oil mixed with almond oil to apply to my wrists and neck. The scent of it is beautiful and light, perfect as a perfume, but it also doubles as a convenient way to relieve stress.

If lavender oil isn’t your favorite scent, there are plenty of calming essential oils available that you could substitute instead. Bergamot, rose, chamomile, and vetiver are all great options for calming. If you find that your energy seems to wane during certain parts of the day, try a citrus scent instead.

High stress environments can really take a toll on your body and your mind. Create space in your schedule, even if its just a few brief moments, to better care for yourself. Figure out what it is that you need at that moment. Do you need to calm down? Do you need a little pick-me-up? Understanding what you need is the first step to making sure you can provide for yourself.

While I use these tips and tricks to help me better manage our family and home, you can bring all of these things easily with you to work for a long day at the office or out around town with you as your run your errands. There is no limit to where you can take these for an afternoon that you anticipate being highly stressful. Calm yourself the natural way with a few of these essential oils applications.