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Aromatherapy has become quite popular among researchers recently for its effectiveness with stress relief, reducing pain, promoting sleep, and mood regulation. One of the potent tools of aromatherapy is essential oils.
Because of the intimate relationship between our sense of smell and the amygdala centers for memory and mood, essential oils can have a potent effect on your mood and mental well-being, with particular smells (good or bad) causing particular emotional reactions (relaxing or irritating).
Aromatherapy with essential oils has been used for treating a number of ailments, from reducing stress to relieving sleep disorders.
Besides using coping and treatment techniques for anxiety like therapy, grounding, breathing, good eating habits, and sensory techniques, incorporating essential oils into your self-care routine can be particularly impactful in helping you reduce anxiety and enhance feelings of relaxation.
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Essential Oils For Anxiety Relief
Here are six essential oils you can try to relieve your anxiety, de-stress yourself, and relax.
One of the most popular essential oils is lavender. Known for its therapeutic and healing properties, there is growing evidence suggesting lavender oil may be effective in the treatment of several neurological disorders.
Studies have found lavender oil to significantly improve both mental and physical health, particularly the quality and duration of sleep (1) and its effectiveness in relieving General Anxiety Disorder(GAD). (2)
Lavender is refreshing, soothing, and calming to our senses with studies confirming it has a clinically meaningful anxiolytic effect and can be effective for anxiety relief and better sleep at night. Massage some lavender oil on your skin or spray it on your pillow to relax your anxious mind and enjoy a peaceful slumber.
Widely used is aromatherapy, bergamot oil is extracted from the peels of bergamot oranges and has a refreshing citrusy essence.
Studies have found bergamot oil to effectively reduce blood pressure and heart rate, confirming it’s relaxing and calming effects. Another study on rats found bergamot oil to have significant positive effects on anxiety and stress, further suggesting its effectiveness in relieving anxiety and stress through aromatherapy treatment.
Bergamot essential oil has been a popular option to induce feelings of relaxation and calmness. Sprinkle a few drops onto a cloth or a tissue and inhale its aroma to relax your anxious mind and stressors on the go throughout the day.
Note – Bergamot oil may make your skin sensitive to the sun, so avoid using it topically before going outside.
Already popular among tea drinkers, chamomile has been used since ancient times for its relaxing and sedative properties.
Chamomile has shown to improve cardiovascular conditions, stimulate the immune system, and provide some protection against cancer. It also packs in a powerful antioxidant called apigenin which has been attributed to make chamomile a mild tranquilizer.
Chamomile has been traditionally used for sleep for centuries now. You can massage the diluted essential oil on your skin to let it relax your nerves, calm your anxiety, and enjoy a restful sleep at night.
Another popular choice in aromatherapy, ylang-ylang packs in a sweet floral scent. The essential oil is derived from the star-shaped yellow-colored ylang-ylang flowers and has been used to promote feelings of relaxation.
Studies have found using ylang-ylang oil either on the skin or inhaling it, can reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem(1) and reduce blood pressure and heart rate(2). Ylang-ylang oil also contains the compound called linalool that has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and the oil has been found effective in the treatment of fungal infection as well(4).
Because of its innumerable beneficial properties, ylang-ylang oil has been effective in aromatherapy treatment and could enhance overall health. Dilute it and apply on your skin or sprinkle a few drops onto a cloth or a tissue and inhale the sweet aroma of the ylang-ylang essential oil to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Clary sage is different from the common herb used in the kitchen and has an earthy, floral aroma. Popularly known for its antidepressant properties, clary sage has been used for its calming abilities and also as an aphrodisiac.
Studies(1, 2) have shown inhaling clary sage oil significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in women, suggesting it’s potential in easing tension, and anxiety. Another study on college students demonstrated the impact of clary sage oil on enhancing the quality of sleep and energy levels along with reducing overall stress.
Clary sage is one of the best natural sedatives and has shown immense potential in relieving stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and enhancing overall well-being. Inhale the rich aroma of clary sage oil to calm your anxious mind or massage a few drops of the diluted oil on your skin to relax and sleep well.
Lemon balm is another sought after essential oil used in aromatherapy and packs in a fresh and lemony fragrance. Known for its calming effects, its a herb of the mint family.
Studies have attributed lemon balm extract to be an effective stress and anxiety reliever in patients suffering from a chronic heart condition(1). Other studies suggest lemon balm can improve mild-to-moderate anxiety disorder insomnia(2) and induce sleep by boosting sleep neurotransmitters like GABA(3).
Lemon balm has gained popularity for its multiple beneficial properties. Besides, relieving anxiety and stress, it is an excellent mild sedative to induce quality sleep as well. Inhale lemon balm essential oil directly to calm your nerves and relax.
How To Use Essential Oils
- Dilute the essential oil by mixing it with a carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, etc. to minimize sensitizing your skin to the undiluted oil.
- Take a few drops on the palm of your hands and rub in certain parts of your body like your chest, forehead, wrist, neck, hands, or feet.
- You can also rub it on your palms and inhale it with a few deep breaths.
- Use a few drops into an air diffuser inside your bedroom before sleep.
- Put a few drops in your bath along with bath salts before bedtime. You can also use essential oil infused bath salts.
- Add a few drops with water and spray it around the room and on the pillow.
- Pour a few drops into hot water and perform steam inhalation (effective with peppermint oil for treating nasal congestion as well.)
- Light up some aromatherapy candles infused with essential oils. Remember to manage the flame with caution.
Steps to follow for safety reasons:
- Before using any essential oil, perform a patch test on your skin by rubbing a small drop on the inside of your wrist and letting it sit for 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, the essential oil may be safe for you to use.
- Follow the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s extensive safety guide to various aromatherapy products, including suggested use adaptations for children or expectant mothers, as well as a list of the botanical names.
- Do not ingest the essential oil without making sure it’s safe. Read the FDA regulations for aromatherapy products and how you can determine the safety.
- The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians offers a local doctor directory and guide to natural sleep remedies for children if you’d like to explore more holistic solutions for your life.
- We strictly recommended consulting a doctor before applying essential oils on babies.
- Do not use essential oils on animals. Fragrances may be harmful to animals.