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Soothing herbs Herbs and flowers Essential oils Aromatherapy

How to make a dream pillow?

Soothing herbs help you relax and sleep tight

Here's a natural and pleasant way to help you relax or fall asleep without a morning-after hangover. A dream pillow uses the time-tested power of aromatherapy to help you drift off to sleep and stay there until morning. You can buy a dream pillow in shops and online, but it's easy to make your own. Begin with soft or silky fabric to make a four inch or larger round, square or rectangular pillow. Stitch on three sides and turn inside out. Stuff with fragrant herbs and oils. A flat shape tucked into your pillowcase is most effective for restful sleep, but you may make a plump dream pillow to place near you as you sleep. You can also make a long, narrow shape to lay across your eyes to relax you as you rest. Stitch closed.

Certain herbs and flowers have properties to relieve insomnia and anxiety. Sleep-inducing oils also enhance the fragrance of the herbs. As you lie on the pillow, your warmth and weight will release their aroma. Your dream pillow won't shift if you pin it inside your pillowcase. You can also hang a small herb-filled pouch in your car to help calm and soothe when traffic is frustrating. Some call these dream pillows because they believe the pillows not only help you sleep better, they also enhance your dreams. Herbs and oils can be purchased in many health food stores, shops where you find incense and candles or online.

Your herbs and flowers can include:

  • Chamomile flowers
  • Hops (It's relaxing, but sprinkle with alcohol or essential oil to improve its scent)
  • Lavender flowers (the most popular ingredient for its aroma and restful properties)
  • Lemon balm leaves
  • Marjoram
  • Rose petals
  • Mugwort
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Valerian

Use small amounts of the most strongly scented.

Essential oils

  • Basil
  • Hyacinth
  • Jasmine
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood

Fixative

To enhance your fragrances and make them last longer.

  • Angelica root
  • Amyris
  • Calamus root
  • Orris root

Suggested formula (depending upon the size of your pillow)

  • Equal parts of the most fragrant herbs and flowers; a little less of those less so
  • Five to 10 drops of one essential oil
  • One to two teaspoons of fixative

Note: Heavy smokers will not benefit from the aromatherapy of a dream pillow. Another reason to quit.

Tips for journaling

Keep a journal to discover, grow and heal

Journaling can be a path to discovery. It allows you to express troubling thoughts and emotions, examine your options for problem-solving, track your personal growth and gain insight for self-improvement. Negative thinking results in negative moods. Writing about your thoughts and behaviors allows you to do reality checks and adjust your response to what's happening in your life.

"I can be my own worst enemy," said Ellen. "I start thinking about my mistakes and my failures, and what I think other people think about me. Then I get really depressed. When I write it all down and read it over, I can see that I've really exaggerated a lot of it. When it's in writing, I can see how I twist reality. And, then I feel the cloud lift." A journal provides a place where you can express feelings, questions or concerns that you can't share with anyone else, or aren't ready to share. "It can be a place for people to talk and be honest with themselves in a way that may be difficult under other circumstances," writes Phil Rich, Ed.D., MSW, author of The Healing Journey: Your Journal of Self-Discovery. "And journals can allow people to get in touch with parts of themselves that are hidden under the surface."

If you're working with a therapist, journaling can help you review issues that come up in a therapy session or record thoughts or events that you want to bring up with your therapist later. Man sitting on boulders writing in a journalGoing back over your writing can help you see patterns in your thoughts and behavior. You'll also see how you've made progress and solved problems. There may be other times when you simply want to vent and then don't feel the need to review what you've written.

Tips for journaling:

  • Schedule a regular time for writing.
  • Make yourself comfortable: play soft music, sit by a sunny window
  • Keep your journal where you will see it to remind yourself to write, unless you need to tuck it away for privacy.
  • It may be right for you to write a little every day, or to take out your book only when you feel a need.
  • Don't worry about spelling and punctuation and don't edit yourself.
  • Be inspired by an elegant leather-bound book, or find a spiral notebook less intimidating.
  • Write about your thoughts and feelings, dreams, problems, goals, observations, growth, questions.