Herbalists and naturopaths have long used essential oils to alleviate stress-related body and mind imbalances. This makes sense, since our olfactory system has a direct connection to our mood – like how our memory of smell is often associated with certain emotions and experiences. (No wonder the smell of home-baked cookies makes you smile nostalgically at the thought of your grandma)!
So, let’s explore how various essential oils, with their vibrant and fantastic aromas, can help lower our stress levels and transport us to a space of serenity.
Aromatherapy as Stress Relief
Studies have shown that aromatherapy can significantly reduce stress levels for adults and adolescents.1 Lower stress levels lead to a calmer mind as well as improved productivity, sleep, and a better emotional response with less anger and anxiety. And if that’s not enough to turn you into a believer, consider this Japanese study: It was reported that inhalation of patchouli and rose oil reduced adrenaline concentrations by an astounding 30 percent.2 Aromatherapy offers instant relaxation by inhalation.
Almost any essential oil will aid in relaxing you in some way, but there are some essential oils that work specifically to destress, relax, and calm you:
1. Rose: The smell of a rose is intoxicating to say the least – and it works all the more to relax and calm the emotional response in humans.3
2. Lavender: Lavender essential oil has been proven to reduce tension in professionals with high-stress jobs, like critical-care nurses.4
3. Bergamot: From reducing heart rate to soothing the nervous system, studies show that bergamot essential oil works quickly to calm the human mind.5
4. Lemon: Who doesn’t find a fresh lemony scent invigorating? Lemon, neroli, orange, and other citrusy essential oils work well in reducing psychological and psychosomatic stress.
5. Cinnamon: Wonder why the smell of baking relaxes you? It’s probably the cinnamon or the vanilla, or a combination of both.
6. Geranium: Geraniums come a close second to roses in their ability to relax you. The fragrant oil is both uplifting and calming simultaneously.
7. Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang essential oil has been widely known for promoting better sleep. It’s also used to treat depression as well as anxiety.6
8. Chamomile: The reason sipping chamomile tea is relaxing is two-fold: the nutritive properties help to alleviate stress, but inhaling its aromas is equally soothing.
9. Lemongrass: Lemongrass is not only a great mood booster; it can also be used to alleviate pain and ease physical and psychological stress.
10. Vetiver: Vetiver essential oil calms a stressed-out mind and body, and it’s great for increasing concentration levels and soothing any nervousness or anxiety.
There are several ways to reap the anti-stress benefits of these essential oils. Some are more deliberate, while others allow the aromas to suffuse your environment.
- Open up a bottle and inhale: If you’re in a moment of panic or high stress, simply open a bottle of essential oil and inhale for instant grounding. Just do so gently, and limit to just one to two breaths.
- Add a few drops to your hot shower: Just a few drops of essential oil on the floor of your shower will mingle perfectly with the vapors, relaxing you from head to toe.
- Scent something you carry: A few strategic drops on your handkerchief will ensure the aroma stays with you as you’re out and about.
- Use a diffuser: If a high-stress environment is part and parcel of your job, use a diffuser or an oil-burner lamp to get a steady stream of calm wafting around all throughout the day.
Science is continually proving that aromatherapy is indeed a great alternative therapy to calm those strung-out nerves and even reduce pain in injuries and post-operative recovery. 7 So why not give it a whiff?
For more ways to use essential oils, keep reading here:
1. JY, Seo. “[The Effects Of Aromatherapy On Stress And Stress Responses In Adolescents]. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2009. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.
2. Haze S, et al. “Effects Of Fragrance Inhalation On Sympathetic Activity In Normal Adults. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2002. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.
3. T, Hongratanaworakit. “Relaxing Effect Of Rose Oil On Humans. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2009. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.
4. Johnson K, et al. “Use Of Aromatherapy To Promote A Therapeutic Nurse Environment. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.
5. Watanabe E, et al. “Effects Of Bergamot ( Citrus Bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) Essential Oil Aromatherapy On Mood States, Parasympathetic Nervous System Activity, An… – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.
6. Tan, Loh Teng Hern et al. “Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, And Bioactivities Ofcananga Odorata(Ylang-Ylang)”. N.p., 2015. Print.
7. “Aromatherapy”. University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 2017. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.