Using Essential Oils to Overcome Stress and Anxiety

essential oils for stess and anxiety

Essential oils are extracted from fruits, flowers, leaves, barks or other parts of a plant body. These oils are concentrated extracts of their source and have immense beneficial effects on the mind and body. It takes a huge amount or several plants to create an ounce of essential oil. A distillation process is followed to extract the oil from the particular plant. It takes hours, sometimes days to complete the distillation process.

Essential oils are effective in quantities of just one or two drops due to their high concentration. Most essential oils have a strong aroma and are used for their aromatherapeutic properties as well. Many essential oils are famously used in making perfumes. The oils can also be used as natural air diffusers and air fresheners. The scents of many essential oils have a calming effect on the mind and body.

What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils for Relieving Stress?

The essential oils have aromatic molecules which directly have their effect on our sensory system. The oils activate several parts of our brain which control our reactions and emotions. This, in turn, has its effect on the stress levels, blood pressure, sensory organs, breathing, heart rate and memories. Sometimes individuals with eidetic memory or sensory memory have the ability to remember old memories by smelling a certain fragrance or a strong odour. This is an example of how potent the effect of aromas is on our brains. It is due to these extraordinary properties that the concentrated essential oils are used in herbal and aromatherapy to reduce levels of stress and anxiety. They also help in relieving and healing the body of several ailments. They are used in treating temperamental issues, depression, stress-induced diseases, anger management, addiction to drugs and alcohol through aromatic massages. They are also used by yoga instructors and therapy experts to provide healing benefit to their clients. It is very easy to use them in our day to day lives by simply making a blend of massage oils or using them in air diffusers to have a calming and soothing effect. However, it is important that we use organically extracted natural essential oils. Artificially produced oils which are not natural in their origin can have a harmful effect on our bodies.

How to Use Essential Oils for Dealing with Anxiety?

reduce anxiety

There are several ways in which we can use essential oils at home to reduce stress-induced anxiety.

1. Massage Oils

Blend a few drops of your favourite essential oils with a carrier oil which has mild or no scent. Divide the ratio of the oils depending on the size of the container. Use a dark or amber coloured container to avoid the mixture from going rancid. Also, add a natural preservative like Vitamin E to keep using the massage oil for a longer period of time. (Example: 10 drops of Lavender oil, 10 drops of Lemon oil, 7 drops of Frankincense oil with a few tablespoons of sweet almond oil in an amber dropper bottle or jar. Typically 1-2% concentration of essential oils is used for topical application). Massage the blend of oils on the back, temples of the head or hands. The aroma and concentrated compounds present in the oils will have a positive effect on our body and will act as a calming agent for the mind.

2. Air Diffuser

It is easy to make homemade air fresheners and diffusers. All that is required is a narrow glass jar (preferably dark to preserve the scents inside), carrier oil, favourite essential oils and reeds to diffuse the smell into the room. An electric diffuser is also very effective in spreading the aroma from the oils. (Example: Blend few drops of your favourite essential oils like Jasmine, Sweet Orange, Freesia with Safflower or sweet almond oil in a narrow glass bottle. Add the reeds to the bottle and enjoy the effect.) The aroma present in the oils evaporates quickly and envelopes the body. It instantly calms and soothes the senses, providing a positive effect on the mind. When the scents are inhaled, they instantly trigger the brain which improves the emotions and stress levels.

3. Perfume

It is super easy to make a perfume at home. The ingredients required are: Favourite essential oils, perfumers alcohol and a spray or dropper bottle. The scents of the perfume are divided into three parts: Base notes (which last the longest time), Middle notes (which evaporate slowly), Top Notes (these smells are the first that hit the nose and are the first to disappear). Decide the notes of the perfume and depending on that decide the ratio of the essential oils to be used. Mix it with alcohol (Preferably vodka or everclear) in a glass bottle and let it sit for a couple of days before using.

Example:

Top Notes – Sweet Orange

Middle Notes – Basil and Lime

Base Notes – Vanilla

Mix 7 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil, 10 drops Basil and Lime essential oils and 12 drops of pure vanilla extract in 30 ml glass bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with alcohol. Let it sit for a couple of days before using).

The aromas from the perfume will have a calming effect on the mind. Spray it before walking into a stressing day – whether it be into an interview or before giving a speech or for a hectic day at work. It will calm the nerves, help you radiate confidence and create a positive environment for taking initiatives and grabbing opportunities.

4. Aromatic Bath

Add 3-4 drops of lavender oil or lemon oil or any of your favourite essential oils to the shower or bathtub. Cover the drain and sit in the hot bath for soaking in the calming and soothing effects of the essential oils. It will instantly travel to the sensory system. It will stimulate the senses of the body and create an uplifting affect. An aromatic bath is highly recommended for individuals suffering from issues like depression and anxiety. It will help in full body relaxation, and rejuvenation.

5. Inhaler

One can simply gently inhale the essential oil from the bottle. You can also dab diluted essential oils behind the ears, on the shoulders or temples of the head. Or rub 2-3 drops of diluted essential oil on palms or apply on the wrists and collarbone. Or use a drop or two on the handkerchief for the same effect. The vapour created from the oils will get inhaled by the nose and travel up to the brain for a soothing and calming effect.

Best Essential Oils for Removing Stress and Anxiety

1. Lavender Essential Oil

lavender oil

Lavender is the most commonly used essential oil for aromatherapy. It helps in relieving insomnia, reducing stress and adapting the moods of the individual. It restores a calming and relaxing effect. It helps with anxiety, nervous breakdowns, panic attacks and depression. The oil quickly enters the bloodstream and acts on its medicinal properties. [Read about all the benefits of lavender oil].

How to Use

Rub 2-3 drops of the oil, diluted in one teaspoon of carrier oil, in the hands, temples on the forehead or massage onto the shoulders. Add a few drops to the bathtub for a soothing bath or add it as a middle note to your perfume blend. You can dab a few drops on the pillow in order to have a peaceful sleep.

2. Lime Essential Oil

Lime essential oil has a refreshing and rejuvenating smell. It instantly uplifts the mood and makes your body feel ready for the day. It can work wonders when one is feeling tired and stressed out.

How to Use

Inhale directly or use it in a diffuser. For a body massage, you can add few drops to a few teaspoons of a carrier oil and massage for 5-10 minutes. You can also add it to the bathtub for a refreshing bath.

3. Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit oil

Same as lime, grapefruit essential oil has a refreshing and uplifting effect on the body. It has a fresh aroma that lightens the mood and creates confidence. It has a mild fragrance which does not cause a headache or offend the people around you.

How to Use

Add a few drops to the shower or use it in a perfume. It acts as a great skin scent because of its mild and refreshing fragrance.

4. Rose Essential Oil

Rose essential oil is widely used to calm the skin. It has a vibrant scent which does not overwhelm the nose or cause a headache. It makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. It boosts the feeling of confidence and alleviates stress. The aroma stimulates the mind and acts as a natural antidepressant. It is known to help patients suffering from shock and grieving.

How to Use

Add a few drops of the essential oil to the shower or bathtub. You can make it into a perfume or dab it behind your ears.

5. Orange Essential Oil

Orange oil

Orange oil is another essential oil known for its antidepressant properties. The citrusy aroma instantly acts as a refreshing and rejuvenating agent. It boosts the wearer’s energy and stimulates the memory. It helps in concentrating on studies and at work.

How to Use

Use it in a diffuser or as a perfume. You can also add a few drops to the bathtub for a refreshing bath.

6. Jatamansi Essential Oil

According to studies, Jatamansi has stress-reducing properties. It relieves headaches and is heavily utilised in the field of Ayurveda for reducing anxiety and issues related to depression. It is natural and non-addictive. It is powerful in nature and can be used to treat over-exhaustion.

How to Use

Apply to the temples of the forehead, diluted in a carrier oil.

7. Basil Essential Oil

Basil-Oil

There are two types of basil essential oils – Holy Basil (tulsi) and Sweet Basil. While they both are different, they belong to the same plant family. They both are heavily used in aromatherapy for their stress relieving properties. While holy basil is known for adapting to human moods, the sweet basil is known for reducing anxiety and is less sedative than any allopathic antidepressant.

How to Use

Use it in a diffuser or through an inhaler.

8. Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile essential oil has a strong floral scent which sends out calming and relaxing sensations to the brain. Research has shown that it relieves mild to moderate levels of generalised anxiety.

How to Use

Add to a warm bath or shower. Blend it into a form of a massage oil along with any carrier oil.

9. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense oil

Frankincense essential oil has a musky smell which calms the mind and soothes the senses. Research shows that when massaged with a combination of lavender and citrus essential oils, Frankincense helps in reducing anxiety, depression and stress.

How to Use

Create a blend of massage oil by adding frankincense, lavender and bergamot essential oils to sweet almond oil or olive oil. Massage into the shoulders, back and the forehead for full effect.

10. Jasmine Essential Oil

Jasmine essential oil has a beautiful and strong fragrance. It uplifts the mood and instantly makes the person feel joyous. It creates a feeling of fairytale and vibrancy without being overwhelming. (Read more about all the benefits of Jasmine oil).

How to Use

Dilute it with a carrier oil and dab it on the wrists and behind the ears. Use it as a perfume or add it to the bathtub.

11. Cedarwood Essential Oil

cedarwood oil

The aroma of cedarwood oil works as a natural sedative and is responsible for releasing the chemical inside the brain called serotonin which is responsible for balancing the moods and calming the mind. The serotonin then converts to melatonin which helps in inducing a peaceful sleep and regulating healthy sleeping patterns.

How to Use

Apply 2-3 drops of the oil on top of the pillow before going to bed. Massage into the temples, diluted with a carrier oil, to relieve tension or use in a warm bath before bed. You can directly inhale the aroma from the oil bottle as well.

12. Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood has a wonderful woody aroma which has therapeutic effects on the mind. It helps in balancing the emotions and reducing stress-induced anxiety. The aroma makes you feel confident and at ease in stressful situations.

How to Use

It can be added to massage oil. It can be gently inhaled directly from the container or used in a homemade diffuser.

13. Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli-Oil

Patchouli has a nice musky and earthy smell which regulates the senses of the mind. It stimulates the brain and makes you feel like you’re standing in the middle of the forest. The oil is usually combined with lavender and vanilla to create a beautiful fragrance that calms the senses and relaxes the mind. Patchouli’s oils benefits include its use to relieve anxiety, depression and stress.

How to Use

Add it to a perfume blend as a base or middle note along with a floral and sweet scent like lavender and vanilla, respectively.

14. Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary sage makes you feel happy! This essential oil is known to have an effect comparable to that of dopamine. It boosts confidence and makes the individual feel amazing about themselves. It also has a beautiful aroma which lifts the mood and acts as a natural antidepressant.

How to Use

Add a few drops to a perfume blend or massage a diluted version into the temples of the head. You can also add it to the shower or an air diffuser.

15. Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemongrass essential oil benefits include reducing anxiety, restlessness, the feeling of insecurity and agitation. It also has a refreshing smell that boosts the energy and confidence of the person inhaling it.

How to Use

Use it in the shower or in the air diffuser. Add it to a blend of other essential oils and carrier oil to make a massage oil for the body.

16. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is one of the most potent essential oil with benefits that range from beauty to wellness to digestion. It must be diluted with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil before using. Benefits of peppermint oil include its claim to help in reducing anxiety because of its refreshing and cooling aroma, which also acts as a great air freshener and relieves congestion too. The aroma is said to refresh your mind and stabilize your mood.

How to Use

Use as a diluted massage oil and as a air freshener. You can also inhale it directly to feel refreshed instantly.

17. Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil

Cinnamon Leaf essential oil reduces the sensation of drowsiness. It has medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties which relaxes rigid muscles after a stressful day at work. The spicy scent instantly wakes up the mind and makes it more alert. It builds focus and concentration.

How to Use

Make it into a massage oil for the aching muscles. You can also directly inhale it for instant alertness.

18. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus essential oil has a strong minty aroma which leaves a calming and cooling effect on the mind. It refreshes the mood and surroundings. It instantly boosts energy and confidence. It reduces fatigue and exhaustion.

 How to Use

Use it as a middle note in a fresh perfume. Massage it diluted with a carrier oil to the temples of the forehead or blend it in a massage oil along with jojoba oil.

Are There Any Side Effects of Using Essential Oils?

There are few side effects associated with using essential oils. Firstly, some people might be allergic to these natural ingredients and it can cause allergic reactions when applied directly to the skin. It is recommended to first try it by dabbing a drop of oil onto a small patch of skin. In case there is a rash or any redness then the essential oil is deemed dangerous for further use. Since essential oils are highly potent, the recommended way to use the essential oils is by diluting it with a mild carrier oil like sweet almond oil, safflower oil, olive oil, jojoba oil or organic coconut oil. Secondly, some brands of essential oils are not pure and they use several chemicals to preserve the concentration or to make the scents of the oils stronger. Always use pure essential oils from reputed brands and dilute them before any application using a recipe from an expert source. It is advisable to consult a doctor before using essential oils. In general use of essential oils must be avoided by pregnant women, nursing mothers, people under medical care and by children and pets. It is best to use organically extracted and well-harvested essential oils.

How to Choose Essential Oils for Fighting Stress?

Always buy organic and well-harvested essential oils. They should be a hundred percent pure and in concentrated form when purchased and must then be diluted in suitable carrier oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil etc before use. The brands associated with the extraction of the oils should be reputed and honest. Here is a list of the best selling brands of essential oils. The label of the bottle should display all the details regarding the production of the oil. No other chemical compounds should be present inside the formula as they can cause reactions. It is best to buy essential oils which have no chemicals or toxins present in it. Conduct detailed research regarding the stress relieving properties of the essential oils before investing in them.

Also read:

All around us, we see more and more people stressed out on an everyday basis. Faster paced lifestyle, unreasonable expectations from oneself, fewer breaks, unhealthy nutrition & lifestyle, and constant overstimulation from screens are some of the many causes. Read How to Reduce Stress – Simple Ways to Overcome Stress in Life.

Essential oils and their smells are used in aromatherapy for a variety of benefits. Read all about the best Aromatherapy Essential Oils.

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