Ditch Those Winter Blues and Look Ahead to Sunnier Skies and Happier Days!

February 2014
Six more weeks of winter, at least that what Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicts. As I anxiously await the beginning of this year’s Winter Olympics, eager to cheer on my friend’s son who is representing America on the Men’s Luge team, I cannot wait for warmer weather to arrive. 
The entire East Coast has gotten hit with so many arctic blasts this winter season, it seems as if one out of every five people I speak to has some form of the winter blues.  Personally, I feel like if I see one more snowflake, I am going to scream!
Fear not my friends! Spring will soon be here! In fact, the days are already getting longer and hopefully these “mini” snowstorms that seem to be hitting us three times a week will soon fade away.
What should we do in the meantime? Move forward and think positive! Why not look at this time as a “pre” spring cleaning time. A time to tackle those unfinished projects or better yet, a time to de-clutter! Whatever you choose to do, use your “stay at home” time wisely.
If you feel like you’ve gotten a dose of the winter blues, brighten up your cleaning by putting a little zest into your routine.  Did you know that just ten minutes spent cleaning your home can brighten your mood on a gray day when you use products with bright, uplifting scents?   After all, our sense of smell influences our behavior, triggers our memory, controls our cravings, and enhances our moods.  
Think about it, each day we breathe in over 23,040 times and inhale about 238 cubic feet of air. We are capable of recognizing about 10,000 different odors, even though most of us have trouble identifying more than a couple dozen. However, each and every odor we smell has the power to influence our moods and our behavior.
Certain smells can brighten our moods and lift our spirits, like the smell of a good cup of coffee or a warm cinnamon bun fresh out of the oven. Other smells bring a sense of calm and make us feel at home, like the smell of lavender. Some smells even make us think of old memories, like Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s house, weekends at the log cabin, or lazy days at the beach. For years, doctors have been diagnosing certain diseases by smell alone. 
Smells are everywhere, in our household products, our homes, our cars and office environments. Cleaning with essential oils can help freshen up our homes and our moods. Some of my favorite oils to clean with are lemon, lavender, vanilla, tea tree, ginger, eucalyptus, grapefruit, citrus and peppermint. These oils are all great spiritual up-lifters, making them great choices for these cold, wet days of winter. 
Add some peppermint essential oil to equal parts of white vinegar and water and make a great smelling glass cleaner.
Combine one part baking soda, four parts water, and a few drops of tea tree essential oil for a powerful bathroom cleaner.
Mixing four cups of vinegar with a gallon of water and some lemon juice can freshen up any floor in your home.
Add some grapefruit or citrus essential oil to your all-purpose cleaner made of two teaspoons borax, four tablespoons vinegar, four cups hot water and some liquid soap.
Disinfect your home by adding a few drops of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil to your favorite homemade cleaners.
For a relaxing smell in the bedroom, add a few drops of vanilla or lavender essential oils to your all-purpose cleaner. 
If cleaning with essential oils isn’t your thing, brighten your mood and freshen your home with leftovers! For amazing, inexpensive ways to spice up your indoor air, save extras from cooking and from the pantry – like citrus rinds, bits of ginger, herbs and juices. Just toss them in a sealed bag in the freezer and pull them out to create a cozy mood in your home all year long.
As strange as it sounds, I really do believe that smells play a large role in health and well-being because they are powerful influencers of moods and behavior. Adding certain essential oils to homemade cleaning products can definitely boost up our energy levels and brighten our days. It all makes perfect “scents,” doesn’t it?
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