By Debbie Woodliffe
Stress and anxiety are common mental health and wellness issues worldwide. One study estimated that the pandemic caused an additional 76.2 million cases of anxiety disorders.
However, not everyone has access to affordable healthcare, and some prefer more natural solutions, so we’re going to look at:
- Essential oils and their benefits
- The best essential oils for stress and anxiety
- Other ways essential oils can help
Don’t let stress and anxiety take you over – read on to find ways to help naturally ease your symptoms with essential oils.
Essential oils and their benefits
Essential oils have been used for centuries since the time of the Egyptians and Romans, but the current format of extraction became commonplace in the Middle Ages – distillation.
What happens is that a fruit, flower, plant, bark or root is put into a still with water and heat, then distilled to produce vapour which is separated into water and oil. Alternatively, they’re macerated and pressed to release the oils.
The result is a small amount of intensely aromatic oil that can be used in perfumes, recipes or medicines for stress relief and other uses.
The benefit of extracting essential oils is that the properties of the plant are concentrated, allowing for more focused and targeted treatment and scents. In addition, there are other benefits too:
- Organic and 100% natural
- No need for a prescription
- More accessible in health food shops and stores
The best oils for stress and anxiety
Essential oils are used as a form of holistic or complementary therapy to treat inflammation and pain, and mood disorders or as antiseptics and antibacterials.
The oils are usually diluted in a carrier oil or something like a moisturizer or shampoo to help your body better absorb the benefits without any skin irritations.
Very few essential oils are recommended for oral consumption without dilution in a drink, food, pill, or tincture, as the pure oil form may damage your mouth and throat or even poison you.
For stress and anxiety, most of the oils are best used alongside calming and relaxing activities and should be applied with carrier oils or through other external methods. Most quality sellers include information regarding usage on the label or in the product description on their website.
Remember: You should use these essential oils for symptom management only – they are not a cure. And you should always follow the advice of your doctor and check with them before trying any new complementary therapies in case of interaction with your prescribed medicine.
Sandalwood is particularly popular in fragrances and perfumes as it has a rich, earthy scent, but one study found that it was also helpful in treating the symptoms of anxiety.
This is because it has something in it that is similar to anxiolytics, which are used to treat anxiety. Its therapeutic nature makes it calming and relaxing, which can help with your symptoms.
Why not try choosing a perfume or fragrance to wear which has sandalwood undertones or find a sandalwood candle to scent your home?
It’s probably one of the most mainstream and commonly used essential oils, and it’s great for calming and relaxing your mind and body. It’s also used a lot in sleep aids like pillow mists and heat packs as it can help you drift off to sleep.
This is particularly useful if you find your stress or anxiety is impacting your ability to sleep. Just spritz your pillow with lavender or use a diffuser to spread the smell throughout your room.
Combine that with some deep breathing exercises and see if it can help you drift off easier.
Clary Sage Oil
It’s not a commonly used oil, but studies have shown that clary sage can impact cortisol levels. Too much cortisol causes us to become stressed, so anything that can decrease the amount is worth a try.
One way to use it is to combine it with a moisturizer or carrier oil and massage it into your pulse points to keep the scent close by.
Other ways essential oils can help with stress relief
There are a lot of different ways to use essential oils and reap the benefits, including:
- Drops in your bath or through bath oil
- In a diffuser
- Room sprays
- In tinctures
- In moisturizers, body and hair wash
It depends on the oil you are using, so make sure to do your research on the best way to use them.
It’s not just the ones above either, Bergamot Oil is another anxiolytic-like option for reduced anxiety, and Rosemary has been said to boost brain function and reduce your cortisol levels too.
Just do some reading to see which would be best for you, and go into a few health stores to give them a sniff too. At the end of the day, anything you smell that calms or relaxes you will help. (Tip: Create an essential oil travel kit to use on the road).
So, those are a few ways you can use Essential and Aromatherapy oils for stress and anxiety relief – you just need to smell and choose the right ones to help manage your symptoms to see if you can experience the benefits.