Stress and anxiety have become far too common in our fast-paced lives. This has led to a constant rise in stress-related health issues that negatively impact our mental and physical health. Stressors come in many different forms and affect all of us differently, which is why there is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with them. But over the years, and through my studies in aromatherapy and natural living, I have gathered a few tips and tools which have helped my clients and me. I am not going to claim that essential oils will miraculously erase these stressors. In fact, I’m a huge advocate of a more holistic approach when looking for emotional balance. Focus on proper nutrition, exercise and practising mindfulness so our bodies and minds can tackle challenges with greater ease and success.
Although essential oils are not the ‘be all end all’ of wellbeing, aromatherapy HAS been used for thousands of years to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Inhaling and topically applying pure essential oils can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and even insomnia. Aromatherapy works by stimulating areas of the brain that are responsible for our emotions. Combined with practising mindfulness, essential oils can help to release negative emotions, calm the mind and reduce stress. Below are my go-to essential oils that I use when I need to take a deep breath, exhale and channel my inner zen.
You can’t discuss tackling stress and anxiety without talking about lavender. It is one of the most studied essential oils for its anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing properties. It is known to calm the nerves, reduce restlessness and improve sleep quality. Add 9 drops of lavender oil and 10ml of carrier oil (this is a 3% dilution) to a roller bottle. Apply it to your temples and wrists when you are looking for relief, or combine lavender with a carrier oil for a relaxing massage oil. I also love adding lavender to my baths at night and diffusing it before bedtime.
The aroma is soothing but will leave you invigorated at the same time. This is my go-to oil to diffuse not only when I want to relax but when I am looking for an emotional lift. It is an effective antidepressant due to its mood-enhancing qualities, promoting feelings of joy, freshness and energy. Studies have been done in Japan which showed that bergamot oil helped improve negative emotions and fatigue. But because this oil is phototoxic, I use it in my diffuser instead of applying it topically.
Frankincense is a beautifully grounding oil to help one live in the moment. It is used for meditation and relaxation as it helps to calm and centre the mind while reducing levels of stress and negative emotions. Plus, it doesn’t just get rid of negative feelings, but it actually encourages positive ones. It promotes feelings of satisfaction, peace, and overall wellness, which explains why frankincense oil is one of the most popular essential oils worldwide. Add a few drops to a diffuser, your bath or massage a drop or two into the bottoms of your feet to help balance your mood.
This oil is distilled from the same flower, which gives chamomile tea its relaxing properties. Numerous studies have found roman chamomile beneficial when dealing with anxiety and depression. It promotes inner calm, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system. For stress relief, blend roman chamomile with a carrier oil to use as a relaxing body massage (use a 3% dilution rate which can be found here). It’s also blissful when added to a bath at night or when diffused.
With a slightly sweet, floral scent, this oil is known to promote a sense of peacefulness, reduce stress, and even help improve self-esteem. Studies have found it to have a calming effect on the nervous system, especially if you use it as soon as you start to feel stressed or anxious. Its also known to be an aphrodisiac, making it a soothing and sexy addition to massage blends. Use a 3% dilution in massage blends (see our dilution chart here) or simply diffuse this oil to enjoy all its emotionally soothing benefits.
When we think of roses, we think of love, and this oil is filled with love. It is known to bring a balance of thoughts to induce a restful night’s sleep, especially during times of insomnia. This is an amazing oil for when anxiety and depression are running deep as it has a significant calming effect on the central nervous system. From trauma, shock, or grief, this is a great oil to help soothe your heart. You can diffuse this oil, but it’s pretty expensive to just use for its calming aroma (although it is heavenly). So I prefer to add one to two drops to my temples and back of my neck to really enjoy all of the benefits. Its also known to be an aphrodisiac and can be used as a stunning, all-natural perfume. Simple dab a single drop behind your ears and enjoy all the ‘love’ly vibes.
If your feelings of stress and anxiety are more cyclical in nature, this oil may offer some relief. Clary sage is known as the “women’s oil” as it is great at balancing hormonal stress and promotes relaxation during a woman’s cycle. Create a roller bottle blend by adding 9 drops to 10ml of carrier oil (which is a 3% dilution) and roll this onto your pulse points or the bottoms of your feet when the hormonal pressure is on.
Jasmine is widely used around the world as a natural remedy for anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression. It acts as a natural sedative and has stimulating effects on the brain improving mood and energy levels. Apply directly to your wrists or neck to promote relaxation or add a few drops to a hot bath. It’s also a stunning natural perfume, and when you smell good, you feel good!
Vetiver is an oil that we don’t often hear about unless you follow me on social media, then you will know it’s one of my favourite oils to use when I’m feeling stress and anxiety creep into my day. It’s a thick oil (I recommend using it with a dropper cap) which nourishes the mind and calms me down almost instantly. It’s rich in mood-boosting properties and is a wonderful choice when you are looking for emotional support. It’s so soothing that I recommend it to people suffering withdrawal from nicotine and alcohol as it helps to quill jitters and provides peace of mind.
I love using Vetiver in diffuser blends, and one of my favourite oils to combine it with is Orange. My ‘Exhale Diffuser Blend’ combines 5 drops of orange with 3 drops of vetiver. This blend inspires us to stop holding our breath and finally….. exhale. You can also add a few drops to your wrists and neck for a calming, grounding perfume.
Orange brings peace and happiness to the mind and is ideal for helping with stress and anxiety. Because orange is such a bright, uplifting oil, it is great to add to any blend when you want a fresh, cheerful note (as mentioned in my ‘Exhale Diffuser Blend’ above), or you can diffuse it on its own to add some sunshine to your day. In fact, all of our citrus oils are bright and uplifting, so you can also try lemon, lime and mandarin. But keep in mind that citrus oils are phototoxic. So I recommend using them in a diffuser to enjoy all of their therapeutic qualities.
As you experiment with mood-boosting, calming and relaxing oils in different blends, remember that scent is very individual. Not everyone will respond the same way to the same oils. It’s always best to try out different oils, pay close attention to your own body’s responses, and choose oils that speak to you!