All of us have experienced stress at some point in our life. External events like a demanding job or an unhappy home environment can all be stressors. Even constant worrying, pessimistic outlook on life, etc. can cause stress. Anxiety is one of the many symptoms of stress. It makes us feel apprehensive and fearful to the point where it starts interfering in our daily functioning. Aromatherapy using essential oils is helpful in managing anxiety and stress.
Essential oil scents can stimulate smell receptors located in the nose which connect to the brain. These receptors can send messages to the part of the brain that controls stress, heart rate, hormone levels, etc. Thus, essential oils can have an effect on your body’s chemicals, positively affecting your mood and emotions.
When it comes to dealing with everyday anxiety and stress, essential oils can be incorporated to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. Of course, some essential oils do a better job of managing stress and anxiety than the others. Here are our top six picks:
Frankincense essential oil, also known as ‘King of Oils’, is also beneficial in treating stress and anxiety. The essential oil is extracted from the dried resin of Boswellia trees. In many cultures, frankincense is used as incense during religious ceremonies. It has a sweet, resinous, musky aroma that is thought to be calming. Recent research has also revealed it has properties that may help fight certain types of cancers. One study used a mix of oils that included frankincense to give hand massages to patients suffering from terminal cancer. This significantly reduced pain and depression among the subjects.
Lavender is a versatile and popular essential oil. Not only does it smell wonderful, but it is also an excellent antiseptic and relaxant. It has a floral aroma with herbaceous notes. According to studies, lavender can help promote relaxation because it contains high amounts of linalyl acetate and linalool. It can help reduce stress and fight anxiety, make you feel calmer, and also address insomnia. The best way to exploit its therapeutic benefits is through topical application using 1 – 2 drops and coconut oil massaged into wrists and behind neck.
Did you know Bergamot is a key ingredient in the Earl Grey tea? Bergamot essential oil comes from bergamot oranges. It has a distinct citrusy smell that can help improve mood. In fact, some studies have concluded it is effective in reducing anxiety, improving mood, and regulating cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) levels. The invigorating fresh scent of bergamot can be refreshing. It can help drive away negative emotions, uplift mood, and soothe the nervous system.
Chamomile is a good option if you are feeling restless and need something to calm you down. Its sweet, fruity aroma has sedative properties that help decrease worry, anxiety, and soothe an overworked mind. The research supports its effectiveness as a relaxant and an antidepressant. Chamomile can help relieve some symptoms related to Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD.
Vetiver, a rather obscure essential oil, is another great pick for helping with anxiety. Derived from a type of grass native to India, vetiver has an earthy, woodsy, and herbaceous scent. An aphrodisiac, vetiver has a grounding and stabilizing effect that helps calm down the mind. It can help control panic attacks. According to a study, it is as effective as the drug diazepam in controlling anxiety.
This is another great relaxant. Ylang ylang has a strong sweet, floral scent that is uplifting and calming. It is particularly effective in dealing with stress as it helps lower cortisol levels in the body. A study has revealed that it can help lower heart rate, and decrease stress and anxiety. It can help promote a feeling of calm and peace.
The simplest way to reap the aromatherapy benefits essential oils is by inhaling the scent. Rub a drop or two between your palms and inhale deeply by cupping your hands over your nose. If possible, invest in a good aromatherapy diffuser and enjoy the soothing scent of essential oils all day.
A relaxing bath at the end of a long, tiring day is also a good way to de-stress. Mix 3-5 drops of essential oil with your bath salts, milk, or honey, add this to the bath waters and enjoy a leisurely soak.
Mix the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut and use for a full body massage. You can also simply apply this mix on your nape, temples, wrists, and soles of your feet. For a massage you can use a ratio of 6 drops essential oils per fluid ounce (10ML) of carrier oil and put in a roller ball.