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The other day I was sitting at my desk, hunched over my computer, working furiously trying to get 20 different things accomplished. There were deadlines approaching and I was getting totally stressed. I needed a quick solution to relieve my stress and help me stay focused. And that’s when I remembered how great essential oils are for stress relief. With a few whiffs of this awesome essential oil and a really effective breathing technique (I’ll link to it below) in less than two minutes, I was feeling calmer and better able to focus.
So, if you’re wondering what essential oils to use to relieve stress and anxiety and help calm you down, here are 7 of the best: Lavender, Bergamot, Lemon, Lemon Grass, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, and Orange Oil.
The scent of lavender is probably one of the best known and most studied over the years. Lavender can help relieve stress and anxiety and it’s great for easing you into sleep. This study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice discusses how lavender oil decreased workplace stress among a trial group of nurses.
The great thing about lavender is that it is one of the most common essential oils, it’s very easy to obtain and is relatively inexpensive. (You can visit my Stress Relief Resources page here for suggested brands of all these oils and to check prices.)
Other benefits of lavender oil include supporting brain function including in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients, healing minor burns, scrapes, and cuts when diluted in a carrier oil -3 drops of lavender oil in ½ teaspoon coconut oil, relieving headaches, pain relief.
If you’ve ever sipped a cup of Earl Grey Tea you know the wonderful aroma of bergamot. Bergamot oil comes from the peel of the bergamot orange or Citrus bergamia fruit and is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. This study shows how bergamot oil can promote feelings of well-being and positivity. This study shows how inhaling the scent of bergamot can actually decrease the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in your saliva
Note: Bergamot oil may cause sun sensitivity. I like to put a few drops on a cotton ball and just inhale the scent that way or put it into my diffuser. (You can find my favorite one on the Stress Relief Resources Page.)
Other benefits of bergamot oil include lowering blood pressure, relieve pain, as a natural deodorant, fighting respiratory conditions caused by the common cold.
If you blend lavender and bergamot oils you get a synergistic effect that is even more powerful and according to this study from the National Institute of Health can decrease blood pressure and pulse rate and may be helpful in treating not only anxiety but depression as well. Mix equal parts of each oil and just inhale the scent. It’s very calming yet uplifting.
This wonderful oil, which comes from the leaves of the lemon plant, is great for reducing anxiety and helping improve your mood and promote relaxation. Lemon oil in an aromatherapy inhaler has even been used in a cancer hospital in the UK to help reduce nausea and promote relaxation in patients during treatment. This study can tell you more about that.
Other benefits of lemon oil which might make you want to keep a bottle handy are relief from nausea, anti-depressant properties, helping you concentrate and focus better. So if you are nervous about a test you’re studying for, lemon oil can help in several important ways!
Lemongrass oil comes from the lemongrass herb and studies like this one from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine have found that inhaling the scent of lemongrass can reduce tension and anxiety. It’s really interesting how quickly the scent of lemongrass was shown to help relieve anxiety. So if you need quick stress relief, inhaling the aroma of lemongrass may be just the thing.
Other benefits of lemongrass include headache relief and arthritis pain relief.
Ylang Ylang oil comes from the flowers of a tropical tree called the Cananga odorata. This essential oil has been found to reduce stress and in a small study was shown to help decrease blood pressure and stress hormone levels in the participants.
Other benefits of Ylang Ylang oil include helping with insomnia, reducing PMS symptoms, and acting as an aphrodisiac (for both men and women.)
Clary Sage oil comes from the clary sage herb, which is related to our common garden herb, sage. Studies have shown that inhaling the scent of clary sage oil can help people relax during medical procedures and this study showed how clary sage oil can also even help boost your mood with effects similar to anti-depressants.
Other benefits of Clary Sage oil include helping with PMS, both pain and mood swings, relieving insomnia and increasing circulation.
Orange oil comes from the peels of the orange and has great anxiety and stress reducing properties. This is one study that discusses how smelling orange oil can help keep you calm during a stressful activity or stress-inducing situation.
Orange oil can also help lower blood pressure, reduce bone and joint pain, and fight acne.
As you can see from the many studies mentioned above there is clinical evidence to show that essential oils can be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety and promoting a feeling of well-being.
For many people, essential oils are a safe and natural way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. The easiest way to use essential oils for stress relief is to put a few drops of the oil on a tissue or cotton ball and keep it in a closed container. Then sniff the scent throughout the day or as needed.
Diffusers can be great as well as can an inhaler. The personal inhaler is nice because it’s portable and you can use it around others who may be sensitive to scents. You can check out the Stress Relief Resources Page for some easy to use and inexpensive inhalers that are great to keep in your purse so you have them with you when you need them.
I personally cannot recommend ingesting (eating) any essential oils unless under the guidance of a medical professional. Some may be safe to ingest, but I don’t have the expertise to suggest which ones or how much might be safe and everyone’s body is different.
Many pure essential oils are too strong to be used directly on the skin without diluting them first in a carrier oil. So always dilute your oil appropriately in a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond or avocado oil before putting on your skin.
Allergic reactions may occur in some people when essential oils are used on the skin. Some people are more sensitive than others. So always do a small patch test on your arm or wrist and wait 24 hours to see if your skin reacts negatively to an oil. Essential oils are potent. Use them sparingly! Just because “some” is good doesn’t mean that “more” is better.
This safety guide from the University of Michigan can give you basic information on the safety of essential oils and this safety guide from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy goes into more detail about specific oils and how to use them appropriately.
Inhalation of the seven essential oils that I recommended above is thought to be safe for adults. Children are likely to be more sensitive to essential oils and pets may have different reactions to oils than people do. For specific information on the safety of essential oils and their use with pets check out this page, also from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy.
According to Dr. Brent A. Bauer of the Mayo Clinic – Aromatherapy works by the scent of the essential oil stimulating receptors in the nose that then send messages to the brain. The part of the brain that receives these messages is the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that controls emotions. Dr. Bauer also mentions that there are studies that show that aromatherapy may be beneficial by relieving anxiety and depression and could help improve mood and sleep.
Essential oils can definitely be helpful when used as natural remedies for stress relief and to reduce anxiety and tension.
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For a great list of 25 awesome stress relieving tips visit: 25 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
To learn the breathing technique I mentioned at the beginning of this post visit: The One Tool You Need to relieve stress and anxiety.
To start creating a less stressful life check out: 3 Simple Habits for a Calmer Happier Life
If life is just feeling too hectic these days and you’d like to simplify things then grab your free copy of The Seven Days of Simplicity Action Plan.
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