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How Essential Oils Can Help Dancers With Everything From Sore Muscles to Anxiety

If you're battling aching muscles or pre-show nerves, a scented oil is probably the last thing you'd consider as a solution. Essential oils are more than just smells, though—these highly concentrated plant extracts have some serious healing powers. Sold online or over-the-counter at most health food stores, pure essential oils are completely natural and can be added to baths and lotions, or applied topically. Dance Spirit rounded up three specific scents that'll benefit your dancer bod.

1. Peppermint

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Helps: Muscle soreness, indigestion

Peppermint is a tried-and-true remedy for an uneasy stomach and may help aching joints. If your muscles are throbbing after a tough class, mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with 10 milliliters of a carrier oil, like coconut oil or avocado oil. Massage the mixture into your skin wherever you're sore. If your stomach is upset after a particularly filling lunch, add one drop of peppermint essential oil to a glass of warm water or tea so you can get through an afternoon of rehearsing.

2. Lavender

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Helps: Anxiety, stress, sleep issues

If there were a super scent, it'd be lavender. It's the most popular essential oil for good reason: with a storied history dating back 2,500 years, lavender has been used everywhere from ancient Egypt to Greece, and for everything from treating cuts and burns to acting as perfume. It's also a secret weapon for anxiety and stress. Multiple studies have shown that lavender oil decreases sleep disturbances and moodiness.

The best way to experience lavender oil is through a diffuser, which can be purchased online. Diffusers help maximize the benefits of the oils by distributing them via mist. It's also gentle enough to be applied directly to the skin—if you don't have a diffuser, dabbing a drop of oil behind each ear after a long day in the studio will help your mind unwind.

3. Eucalyptus

Helps: Sore throat, cough, cold

Cold and flu season's got nothing on eucalyptus oil. With its antiviral and antibacterial properties, this essential oil will stop a hacking cough or burning throat in its tracks and help you get back to dancing. Take a large bowl of hot water and mix in 10 to 15 drops of the oil. Position your face over the bowl, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam for 10 minutes. (If you have a diffuser, you can simply add in a few drops of the oil and turn it on.)

A version of this story appeared in the January 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Just The Essentials."

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