In today’s world, where we are constantly living on the go with busy schedules, stress and anxiety has become part of our lives. This has resulted in stress related health issues which negatively impacts us mentally and physically.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils have been used since ancient times though their usage has become more prevalent in recent times in the modern world.
Most of us associate essential oils with Spas or Yoga classes but in reality, these natural extracts are beneficial both emotionally and physically. Essential oils are plant extracts and are obtained from different parts of the plant like leaves, flowers, barks, seeds etc. through various extraction processes like Steam Distillation, cold pressing etc.
How Essential Oils help?
Aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling essential oils to improve our well being. Essential oils are absorbed by smell receptors in our nose which are linked with the limbic system which is that part of the brain which controls our emotional responses. These impact our heart rate, blood pressure and nervous system.
These molecules are also inhaled by our lungs from where they enter the bloodstream and affect our hormones through the endocrine system. They are also known to have subtle effect on our energy systems.
Have you ever noticed how the smell of roses brighten your day or how you feel relaxed with the smell of lavender? Using essential oils fills the entire space with its beautiful aroma and brings about peace and serenity to one’s mind.
Inhaling essential oils reduce stress and bring calmness to mind. Thus, aromatherapy is often used as a natural remedy to relieve stress and anxiety.
How to use Essential Oils?
Essential oils can either be inhaled or topically applied. For inhalation, Diffuser is the most common way of releasing them in the air. They can also be incorporated in Room Spray or Candles to diffuse the air with their aroma. You can also add few drops to cotton balls or tissue paper, and inhale a few times to get benefit of their aroma.
If you are topically applying essential oils, you can make a blend of essential oils by mixing with carrier oils and massage on the body. Few drops of this mixture can also be applied on wrists or inner elbow to gain from their benefit.
Best Essential Oils for Stress & Anxiety:
Lavender is definitely my go-to oil and keeps me balanced. It is a proven stress and anxiety reliever and helps you to relax and calm down. This is one of the most popular aromatherapy oil and is known to have anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing, and anxiety-relieving properties.
How to use: You can add few drops to an oil diffuser and breathe in the aroma. You can also add few drops to a cotton ball and keep it next to your pillow. This will help in getting a sound sleep.
It is extracted from Rose petals and the enchanting floral scent is known to relax the senses. It is my favourite smelling oil and every time I inhale this oil my mind is filled with calmness. Rose essential oil is effective in relieving anxiety and depression. It is known for inducing relaxation and reducing emotional distress.
How to use: You can soak your feet in warm water and add few drops of Rose Essential Oil. You cal also add few drops of Rose Essential oil to a diffuser or add few drops to your body lotion or massage oil.
Floral aroma of Ylang Ylang is known to promote relaxation. It is also known to reduce stress and anxiety. The tropical scent of this oil is both calming and uplifting and is definitely one of the best oils to boost emotional wellbeing. It can also help reduce blood pressure and has mild sedative properties.
How to use: You can add few drops to a diffuser or apply diluted blend as a massage oil.
Bergamot has a pleasant citrusy scent and is known to help relives stress and anxiety. This oil gives Earl Grey Tea its signature fragrance and is widely used in Aromatherapy. It is extracted from the peels of the citrus fruit and is known is reduce stress levels. It may also help in reducing negative emotions and fatigue and lower cortisol levels which is also known as body stress hormone.
It may make skin more sensitive to sun exposure which may lead to redness, burn, blisters or skin darkening and therefore do not step out in sun after applying this oil.
How to use: Put few drops of bergamot oil on a cotton ball and inhale the aroma few times to help relieve anxiety. Alternatively, you can diffuse to benefit from the aroma.
Chamomile has fruity sweet aroma with a slight hint of herby undertones . It is well known for its relaxing and sedative properties and intoxicating scent. Research has shown that chamomile may help in mild to moderate anxiety levels. It is known to have grounding effects and is a relaxing oil which also helps to sleep.
How to use: German Chamomile oil has calming effects when added to aromatherapy diffusers. You can also add few drops to a carrier oil like Jojoba or almond and deeply massage to get rid of anxiety. Soak your feet in warm water and add few drops of Chamomile Oil will help inculcate peaceful sleep.
Vetiver is known for its soothing, healing and protective properties. It is often referred to as “the oil of tranquillity”. It has a sweet, smoky aroma similar to that of sandalwood. It is known for its antioxidant properties help to fight free radicles and keep toxins away from the body. Vetiver essential oil has tranquil, grounding, and reassuring aroma which helps to calm. It is known to reduce emotional stress, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
How to use: Enjoy a relaxing massage with diluted vetiver oil or add to a aromatherapy diffuser.
Jasmine oil is known for its sweet glorious smell. According to studies, inhaling Jasmine oil can promote sense of wellbeing and improve romance. It is known to calm the nervous system without causing sleepiness. It is known to stimulate the brain to improve mood and energy levels.
How to use: Directly inhale Jasmine essential oil from the bottle or add few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser.
Clary sage has a herby woody aroma and is known to have calming properties. It can help relieve tension and helps to maintain optimal cortisol levels which is also the stress hormone in women. This is beneficial as high levels of cortisol have shown to increase the occurrence of anxiety and depression.
Neroli oil has a sweet and citrusy aroma and is known to have anxiety relieving properties. It has a calming effect and can help treat insomnia. Inhaling neroli oil may reduce stress, anxiety and anxiety induced depression. It also helps to reduce cortisol levels which are stress hormones.
How to use: Inhale directly from the bottle or add few drops to a diffuser.
Frankincense is a great oil for treating depression and anxiety as it provides tranquil and calming aroma. It is also a grounding oil and helps to deepen meditation and quiet the mind. It is known for its stress busting properties and helps to overcome stress and uplift spirit.
When using essential oils, combine them with Carrier Oils (like Jojoba oil, Sweet Almond Oil or Avocado Oil) before applying on the body or adding it to your bath. The best way is to use aromatherapy diffusers or alternatively you can add few drops to cotton ball or tissue paper and then breathe in its aroma.
Few things to remember while using Essential Oils:
- Essential oils are only for external use and should never be ingested
- Store essential oils out of reach of children and store them apart from other products. Some essential oils can be fatal to pets and therefore always research before using them
- Essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before applying on skin as they are highly concentrated as can cause irritation. You can dilute them in carrier oil of your choice and the max concentration of essential oils should be 3-4%
- Always do a patch test before applying on larger areas of skin
- It is unclear what effects essential oils have on pregnant and breastfeeding women. While some consider them safe, many doctors advice pregnant women to avoid use of essential oils
- Always buy pure essential oils and stay away from fake counterparts as they wont contain same therapeutic benefits
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for informational and educational purposes. I am not a medical professional and highly recommend consulting a doctor before using essential oils as part of any medical treatment.