The Best Essential Oils for Anxiety and Stress

Dealing with anxiety is something many of us face on a daily basis. It can take the form of racing thoughts, sleepless nights and excessive worrying. The stresses and strains of modern life can keep us from being fully present and enjoying the things we love. 

Using essential oils can be a form of self-care that can lead to relaxation, calm and a sense of relief. At Aromawest, we offer numerous relaxing essential oils and essential oils for stress. We formulated our Anxiety essential oil blend specifically to help tackle daily stress and anxious thoughts.

Plus, there’s real science and research behind the wellness effects of essential oils. A 2013 study performed in Intensive Care Units found that aromatherapy helped negate the effects of stress, reduce anxiety and increase sleep. Before we discuss our favorite essential oils for anxiety, let’s explore how essential oils work in the brain. 

How do essential oils affect mood and emotions? 

Inhaling and gently breathing in essential oils is one of the most effective ways to take advantage of the stress-relieving properties of essential oils. When you breathe in essential oils, the olfactory bulb in your nose which is connected to the limbic system gets activated. The limbic system has a direct influence on memories, emotions and mood. By inhaling the pure aromas of essential oils, you can have an impact on mood and emotional responses on a physiological level. 

A number of credible studies have shown the effect essential oils can have on mental wellness. A 2020 review on the effects of essential oils on the central nervous system found that the inhalation of essential oils changed cortisol levels and brain wave composition associated with relaxation, contentment and alertness. 

To make the quest for less stress easier, we’ve outlined our favorite essential oils for anxiety and how to easily apply them in your daily life. 

Lavender

Capturing the aroma of a relaxing weekend, Lavender is one the most popular essential oils to relieve anxiety and stress. Its creamy and rich aroma is instantly soothing and comforting. In a 2017 study out of the Department of Healthcare in NYC, Lavender was shown to reduce preoperative anxiety in ambulatory patients. You may not be going into surgery but Lavender can still come to your rescue when stress strikes. 

How to use: Inhale Lavender directly from the bottle during moments of anxiety or agitation followed by four deep breaths. Try four-square breathing to reset

Bergamot 

The smell of Bergamot is a reminder to slow down and stop being so hard on yourself. Citrusy and bright, it boasts Linalool as one of its main constituents. Linalool is a terpene (aromatic compound) known to have a sedative and relaxing effect on your body and mind. It can also help uplift your mood if you’re feeling a little off. 


How to use: Mix 4 drops of Bergamot with 1 tbsp of carrier oil. Add a few drops of the combination to the palms of your hands. Gently cup your hands over your mouth and nose and inhale deeply. 


Lemongrass

Magical in its ability to help create space for hope and healing, Lemongrass has an earthy and sugary aroma. A 2014 Brazilian study found that smelling Lemongrass reduced anxiety and subjective tension while participants perfumed a stressful task. Remarkably, Lemongrass was shown to have an effect in less than 5 minutes. Who doesn’t want peace in 5 minutes or less?  

How to use: Take a de-stressing bath. Combine 5 drops of Lemongrass, 2 tbsp of carrier oil and 1 oz of Epsom salt. Pour the mix into running bathwater. Relax and enjoy. 

Orange 

Another citrus known for its ability to lift the mood, Orange essential oil can quickly relieve stress brought on by worry to promote mental wellness. Interestingly, a 2017 study from George Washington University found that Orange actively reduced the PTSD symptoms of mice.

Orange also contains d-Limonene as the main constituent which is known for its powerful mood-boosting properties. Sometimes anxiety hits hardest when we’re in a bad mood. Orange essential oil can help you move away from the frustrations of your day to find true contentment. 

How to use: Place 3-5 drops of Orange essential oil on a cotton ball or cloth. When anxiety or racing thoughts sneak up on you, gently inhale the aroma to find comfort and relief. 

Sources

Cho, M. Y., Min, E. S., Hur, M. H., & Lee, M. S. (2013). Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 381381. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/381381

Ali, B., Al‐Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5, 601– 611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

Wotman, M., Levinger, J., Leung, L., Kallush, A., Mauer, E., & Kacker, A. (2017). The Efficacy of Lavender Aromatherapy in Reducing Preoperative Anxiety in Ambulatory Surgery Patients Undergoing Procedures in General Otolaryngology. Laryngoscope investigative otolaryngology, 2(6), 437–441. https://doi.org/10.1002/lio2.121

Goes TC, Ursulino FR, Almeida-Souza TH, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. Effect of Lemongrass Aroma on Experimental Anxiety in Humans. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Dec;21(12):766-73. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0099. Epub 2015 Sep 14. PMID: 26366471