If you find yourself totally overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Get these essential oils for anxiety into your diffuser ASAP to feel naturally calm.
Our whirlwind lifestyle leaves many of us exhausted at the end of the day, while still anxious about tomorrow.
To find some relief from those racing thoughts, we often turn to prescription medications or supplements. However, certain essential oils can help ease anxiety as well. Here are the best ones to have stocked and ready for a stressful day.
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How Essential Oils for Anxiety Works
Oils extracted from certain herbs, roots, barks, and plants contain tiny healing compounds that interact with our limbic system. This is the part of the brain that regulates our nervous system and emotions. When we use these particular essential oils, it has a sedative-like effect that calms tension.
Unlike prescription medication for anxiety, studies show that using essential oils for anxiety won’t leave you feeling drowsy or tired. In fact, certain calming oils can even be uplifting! For instance, lavender essential oil increases concentration and cognitive abilities in people, while reducing stress levels. (1, 2)
The next time you’re feeling anxious, consider investing in any of these calming essential oils to reduce your anxiety levels at work and at home.
Ten Essential Oils for Anxiety
You won’t be lacking options when it comes to choosing an essential oil to help with anxiety. Try any of these based on your fragrance preference, or even combine your favorites for a customized anxiety-busting blend!
Lavender is most well-known for its ability to treat anxiety and stress. Studies found that when people inhaled lavender oil for just three minutes, they felt significantly more relaxed, happy, and alert. This is great news if you’re looking to reduce stress without compromising your mental alertness. (3)
Jasmine is a popular aromatherapy oil in Asia. Similar to lavender, jasmine essential oil can help reduce anxiety without making you tired or drowsy. Studies also show it can increase positive emotions while decreasing negative emotions and tiredness. (4)
3. Holy Basil
Holy basil is not the same basil you use in Italian seasoning. Instead, it’s classified as an “adaptogen” herb, meaning it helps your body adapt to stress in a positive way. If you suffer from depression alongside your anxiety, holy basil might be a great option for you. Studies show that holy basil can help counteract stress, anxiety, and feelings of sadness, while also enhancing memory. (5)
Ever wonder why the sweet aroma of citrus is so uplifting? Studies show that bergamot oil, which is a type of citrus, helps ease anxiety and stress. Researchers believe bergamot’s active compounds interact with your limbic system and hypothalamus in a way that eases anxiety symptoms while keeping you alert. (6)
5. Sweet Basil
Yes, sweet basil is the type you use in Italian cooking, and it can help fight stress, too. One study on mice shows that the bioactive compounds in basil can have a slight sedative quality that can take the edge off anxiety. Amazingly, the study found that the anti-anxiety effect of sweet basil was similar to the prescription drug diazepam, commonly known as Valium. (7)
Rose essential oil is extracted from the petals of roses, and its light floral scent is thought to provide a sense of peace and wellbeing. One study found that women in labor who received a footbath with rose essential oil reduced their anxiety more than a control group. (8)
You often hear about people sipping chamomile tea to stay calm, and the essential oil might be just as good – or even better. While research on chamomile essential oil is fairly limited, numerous studies show that the compounds in chamomile act as a sedative, and can significantly reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. (9)
Vetiver is a lesser-known essential oil, but it may be worth getting your hands on some. This grassy plant native to India shows impressive qualities for battling stress and anxiety. Like sweet basil, animal studies found that Vetiver essential oil contains anti-anxiety effects similar to the diazepam. (10)
Ylang-ylang’s enticing floral scent may be one of the best to promote feelings of tranquility. Studies show that participants who used ylang-ylang topically experienced a decrease in blood pressure, and rated themselves as more calm and relaxed than subjects who did not use ylang-ylang. (11)
10. Clary sage
Clary sage, which is different from the culinary sage you might grow in your garden, is a medicinal plant native to the Mediterranean. Studies show that this herb can help ease anxiety by keeping cortisol levels in check. Since high cortisol levels are associated with high stress levels, this might be a great way to get to the root of your anxiety. (12)
How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety
The two most common ways to use essential oils are topically and by diffusing them into the air and breathing them in. However, there are a few key points to remember before you start.
One of the best ways to use essential oils is to apply them topically. Remember, when you do this, it’s important that the essential oil is always diluted with a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil. Essential oils are extremely potent when applied at full strength, and could cause irritation to your skin.
A good rule of thumb for diluting essential oils is to do a two percent dilution. This equals to about 12 drops of essential oil per fluid ounce (or 30 ml) of carrier oil, lotion, butter, or other natural moisturizers.
To be on the safe side, do a patch test on your skin before any topical application. Start by adding three drops of essential oil to your carrier oil, then dab gently on your inner arm. Apply a bandaid over the area, then wait 24 to 48 hours. If no irritation develops, you should be good to go.
Ideas for applying topically:
- Add a few drops of relaxing essential oil to your bath or footbath.
- Dab diluted essential oils on pulse points like behind the ears, temples, wrists, ankles, or over the heart.
Diffused into the Air
You can also use a diffuser to get essential oils into the air, so you can breathe them in. Some hospitals and spas diffuse oils into the air to create a relaxing environment, which is something you can also do at home or in your workspace. (13)
Fill your diffuser with water, add a couple of drops of essential oils, and plug it in. Don’t add a carrier oil here, as it can clog your machine.
For best results, stick to a 30 to 45-minute time limit. This ensures that your lungs and mucous membranes don’t become irritated by breathing in the oils for too long. If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, start by only diffusing for a few minutes at a time until you’re sure the oil isn’t aggravating your condition.
How to Find the Highest Quality Essential Oils
To make sure you’re getting the highest quality oils without any additives, keep the following in mind:
- Read the labels carefully. Ideally, oils should be certified organic with no added ingredients.
- Use only 100 percent pure oils. Added ingredients will only increase the chances of a reaction.
- Buy from a company that prices essential oils at different amounts. Raw materials for essential oils vary widely in their cost, with some costing hundreds of dollars and some costing half as much. If the price for all the essential oils is the same, this suggests low-quality or synthetic ingredients may be being used.
The Bottom Line
Certain essential oils are a fantastic tool for reducing anxiety. Research proves that their beneficial compounds interact with your brain and nervous system to help ease stress and increase calm, and even improve your sleep quality. Keep a handy stash of your favorite calming oils for the next time you’re feeling anxious.
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