Scent Sensitivity Syndrome
Scent Sensitivity Syndrome or Fragrance Allergies
I have what I call scent sensitivity syndrome-most fragrance oils give me a splitting headache. I didn’t always have it. There was a time I could spend days at department store perfume counters, Yankee Candle stores and all other smelly places. I developed this syndrome (you guessed it!) once I started making soaps. I think working with the concentrated fragrance oils was too much for me. Consequently, I only use essential oils in my soap line now. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
I do private label soaps for a few companies who use fragrance oils. I take many precautions – I wear a heavy duty respirator mask, use a separate garbage bag for everything the fragrance oil touches and throw the bag outside immediately after cleaning up, I work with fans and the windows open, and I let the soaps cure upstairs in my sons old bedroom so the scent doesn’t permeate in the air. I usually don’t have a problem with headaches anymore. But last night after making some private label soap, despite all the precautions, I developed a wicked headache. Really bad timing too. I was swamped with work.
I tried my usual solutions. Over the counter medication, drank lots of water, (probably another reason why I didn’t sleep well), an ice pack on my head and nothing helped. Finally at 3:30 I got out of bed and tried my last defense. Coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, I prefer decaf tea, but I’ve found that caffeine helps. But not this time. It’s now 5 am, my head is still throbbing and I’m sitting on my couch thinking of all the things I had to do today. My day job, the soap I needed to make after the day job, orders I had to ship, bookkeeping to finish, phone calls, laundry, dinner, grocery shopping, do I need to go on? How was I gonna get it all done with this pounding in my head, and no sleep on top of that? I had a really busy week ahead of me, but it always is. I had just finished a really busy week. I didn’t have time for a killer headache.
I decided to sit outside on my front porch and do nothing. It was pitch black. I listened to myself breathe. I watched the sky become a red orange. I saw the birds start to come out of their birdhouses and fly around looking for food. I let my mind go blank and stopped obsessing about all I had to do. The sun started to come up and the sky changed color again. I felt the cold of the wrought iron rocking chair I was sitting in. I heard the birds start to sing, and two of them started pecking at each other. They were fighting over a worm. I don’t know why but it made me smile. I relaxed my shoulders, with my headache they traveled somewhere up by my ears. The sun was now completely up and there were some clouds in the sky. There was a cool breeze in the air. I took a deep breath and noticed the headache was subsiding.
I think our bodies know what is best for us. Sometimes it gives us pain to slow us down. We need to stop and take care of ourselves. Most of us run from one project to another and are multitasking at the same time. How efficient are we really? We can’t run at top speed forever without something breaking down. I’m grateful the headache reminded me of what I already know. That I am a human being, not a human doing. I need (paraphrasing flight attendants everywhere) to put on my own oxygen mask (take care of myself) before I put on anyone elses (before I do anything else). So for now, I will slow down and enjoy this soapy adventure I am on.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Yours in Gratitude,