11 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety (2017 Aromatherapy Oil Review)
Imagine what it would be like to stand up in a crowd of people and give a speech…completely relaxed.
Or come home from a long day at work and just be able to let it all go.
Can you believe that using essential oils for anxiety can actually make a significant difference?
In this article, I will detail the benefits of essential oils for anxiety. How they can help relieve your anxiety to the point where you can leave the prescriptions and their risky side effects behind.
What causes anxiety and how can aromatherapy and essential oils reduce its effects?
There are a lot of things that can lead to anxiety. Unfortunately, some of the factors are out of our control. One of these is your genetic predisposition. Studies have shown that when someone develops anxiety in their teens, it is likely that they have a close relative who also suffers from anxiety.
Along with your genetics, your early life experiences and environment were likely out of your control, so those cannot be changed either. However, these can cause you to suffer from anxiety later on in life. The good thing is that there are many causes of anxiety that you do have control over, and with some conscious effort you can improve your well-being.
Causes of Anxiety We Can Control
Does this sound like you? You can't sleep because you are anxious, and then you are anxious because you can't sleep. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, your sleep and anxiety can go hand in hand, leaving you no choice but to get one issue under control to help the other.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol make any mental condition worse, yet anxiety and substance abuse are often coexisting problems. Have you ever noticed that having a drink or two temporarily relieves you, but a few hours later your anxiety is intensified?
I'm sure you have heard of the power of positive thinking. Ruminating on the fearful and negative aspects of our lives only increases anxiety. It is important to focus and try to pay attention to your rational thoughts, and make them positive, which will cause the good to outweigh the bad.
Our Reactions in Social Situations
You may not realize that other people feed off of your reactions. If you stay calm during a situation, other people around you are likely to do the same. Be mindful of your reactions to adverse situations to avoid heightening an issue.
Admit it: Your first thought when you wake up in the morning is to reach for the coffee. But there are so many links between anxiety and the use of caffeine that you may need to weigh your options when it comes to your morning pick-me-up.
It is hard to tell yourself to stop worrying. But try to remember that worrying will not get you anywhere. The outcome of a situation will not be affected at all by how much or how little you worry about it.
Did you know that what you eat can affect your health, all the way down to your emotions? It's true. A diet that isn't benefiting your body is not going to benefit your mind either.
You already know that exercise is beneficial to your body. However, it is important to note just how beneficial it is for your mind as well. Exercise helps you gain confidence, and also helps to release feel-good brain chemicals.
Declutter Your Mind
I know you often experience information overload, whether with work stress or family issues. Sometimes you just need to purge some of the thoughts that are ruminating in your mind to help you relax.
We all experience stress in our lives, but during periods of elevated levels of stress you are likely to be more anxious. Try to be aware of your stress levels and control them when you can.
We all need one. Sometimes you just need to take a breather. It may be five minutes or it may be an hour-long massage, but giving yourself a time-out to rejuvenate is crucial.
Forget About Perfection
Sound silly? It’s not.
Don't aim for perfection in any aspect of your life. Instead, aim to do your best and be proud of what you're able to accomplish.
I was always told while growing up that "What you keep you lose; only what you give remains your own." If you feel anxious about money, give some away so you can see at the end of the month that you are still just fine. If you feel anxious about time, carve out some to volunteer to remind yourself that you have plenty of time on your hands.
Learn and Manage your Triggers
Sounds simple, right? Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Try to get to the root of your anxieties so you can address the underlying problem.
Sorry to break it to you, but you can't always be in control. Let go of that need to control the world around you and try to go with the flow of others.
Talk to Someone
Lastly, whether it is a trusted friend or a professional, find someone to talk to. You can release your thoughts and anxieties and talk through your problems. This can act as one of your greatest therapies.
The point here is that there are variables that you can control that will cumulatively help to reduce your anxiety. Adding essential oils and aromatherapy to your routine along with these other practices can help you relax and decrease your levels of anxiety.
11 BEST Essential Oils for Anxiety
Different types of essential oils work with your body in different ways to control your anxiety. Studies have shown that using aromatherapy in conjunction with other therapies such as massage greatly reduced anxiety in psychiatric patients.
Here's the thing: Essential oils can affect both your brain chemistry and your nervous system. Studies that have been done comparing the effects of essential oils with the effects of common central nervous system drugs that have already proven themselves to be effective have shown that aromatherapy can have a great impact on the central nervous system.
Additionally, essential oils tap into the relationship between your sense of smell and your brain. Your scent receptors send chemical messages to your limbic system, which is the area of the brain that controls basic emotions and memories. These signals that are sent to your brain from essential oils impact your brain's chemical production, which then affects your mental and physical health.
Speaking of mental health, pleasant smells can bring back vivid memories of pleasant times. I know that whenever I smell a rose scent, for example, it brings up positive feelings and instantly makes me relax. Scent and memory work hand in hand.
It's simple, really: Essential oils can really help you relax in many ways. Some act as a mild sedative, while others reduce stress, induce sleep, calm your mind and body, reduce muscle tension, decrease depression, and ease physical discomfort. All of these ailments, both mental and physical, can be contributing to your anxiety levels.
Different oils work in different ways and can be combined to duplicate the effects of other essential oils to varying degrees. This list of 11 oils is laid out in order from strongest to mildest. If you choose to combine oils, be sure to match scents that you enjoy, in addition to their intended effects.
Lavender oil is the go-to oil for anxiety. In a study published in Phytomedicine, lavender oil's effects on anxiety were equal to those of the prescription drug lorazepam. What's even better is that lavender oil did not have the sedative effects that come along with lorazepam. The best part, however, is that there is no potential for drug dependence when using the oil.
Lavender oil has also been proven through studies to pass into the bloodstream when it is inhaled or applied topically. This leads to an easy remedy for sleep problems, pain, and cognition. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine shows that patients suffering from insomnia experienced up to 60% improvement in their sleep quality when using lavender.
You wouldn't believe how many other uses there are for lavender. It can help with restlessness, inflammation, migraines, and even dementia-related agitation.
In my personal experience, I have found it helpful to carry lavender oil with me so I can inhale it as needed to decrease anxiety as soon as it comes up. I find the scent to be soothing and pleasant.
Do you like to wind down at night with a cup of chamomile tea? This is a popular nighttime beverage because of its peaceful and calming scent that benefits your inner harmony and decreases anxiety. While many studies have shown how chamomile can help calm your mind, it can also help to relieve stress and improve digestion.
Additionally, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine that focused on the antidepressant effects of chamomile found that, in addition to decreasing anxiety, chamomile essential oil may also provide clinically significant antidepressant activity.
Chamomile is gentle and safe for children, so this is a great option if you have children around that may also be breathing in the oils, or if you are looking for an oil to use directly with your children.
If you have found chamomile tea to be beneficial and calming, you are more than likely going to benefit from the essential oil as well.
You would be surprised at how many health benefits peppermint has. It can give you a quick burst of alertness, help to relieve a headache, and enhance your memory. Commonly used in patients suffering from IBS, peppermint is also known to help indigestion, which often comes along with nerves.
Of the many essential oils for anxiety, Peppermint oil does not directly treat your anxiety or calm your raging brain. What it does do is affect many things that will cause an increase in anxiety. Therefore it is more of a preventative rather than a cure.
4. Clary Sage
Clary sage has so many health benefits, from its antibacterial properties to its ability to improve skin health.
But wait, there's more.
When it comes to mental health, this essential oil packs a huge punch. It works as an antidepressant, helps to calm nerves, is a mild sedative, and helps relieve hypertension. And the best part? It can actually provide a feeling of euphoria. It can induce immense joy, pleasure, confidence, and high spirits. For this reason, it is often used to relieve depression or chronic anxiety.
5. Ylang Ylang
Ever noticed how your heart rate increases and your blood pressure rises when you are anxious? Studies have shown that ylang ylang can help induce feelings of comfort and slow down a racing heart.
It also helps to fight depression, and helps you relax. It can also help to enhance your mood and help with any indigestion that comes along with anxiety. It has a romantic and uplifting scent that is great to come home to after a long day in the office.
6. Patchouli Oil
In aromatherapy, patchouli oil is used to relieve anxiety, depression, and stress.
It has calming effects and even acts as a light sedative. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Patchouli is known to balance emotion as well as get rid of lethargy. Due to its effectiveness, this oil is commonly used in essential oil blends, as it adds extra effectiveness when fighting anxiety.
Don't you love having a geranium-scented candle around the house?
This flower has a calming scent that is known to be a natural perfume. Its tempting smell brings about positive emotions while also acting as a natural sedative.
Geranium is so soothing that it has even been used to help people sleep.
Lemon is often used as a scent to clean kitchens and bathrooms because it smells so clean.
This citrus scent doesn't stop at just being a cleaning agent, though.
Lemon has also been proven to have positive effects on your mood, autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and immune function.
9. Rose Oil
Have you ever wondered why roses are the go-to flower to give to your partner or loved one?
It turns out that the smell of roses helps relieve depression and releases feel-good hormones in the brain.
This can also help to reduce anxiety and bring you to a peaceful place.
If you're anything like me, getting a full night of quality sleep is a rarity.
Sandalwood can be used to increase the amount of time you spend in the restorative sleep phase so you wake up feeling more refreshed.
It also helps during the day to decrease anxiety and stress.
11. Valerian Root
Ever noticed how, when you get nervous, your body creates a lot of tension, which then leads to pain—especially migraines and stomachaches?
Muscle pain and stomach issues can then turn around and increase your anxiety, resulting in a never-ending cycle. Valerian root helps combat anxiety by relieving this tension and helping you relax.
As have seen, essential oils can help you to relax, bring down your levels of stress, reduce tension in your muscles, calm your mind and body, and improve your quality of sleep. All of these things add up to a more peaceful life, filled will less anxiety.
When you are buying oils, avoid any that simply say “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil.” These oils are likely synthetic, which means they smell good, but don't have an effect on the body. To get your desired health benefits, find oils that say “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil” so you know they will be effective.
How to Use Essential Oils
While certain methods of application for essential oils have been preferred throughout history, as research develops, more application methods are being used. All methods of application are safe if they are done properly, including topical, aromatic, and internal methods. You can choose one or multiple application methods to get the benefits you're looking for.
Topical application of essential oils is both common and effective. The oils easily soak into the skin, and once the oil is absorbed it remains in the applied area to provide a localized benefit.
It's important to dilute the essential oil so it doesn't irritate your skin. Use a carrier oil such as coconut or grapeseed oil and only mix about three or four drops into your carrier oil before applying it directly to your skin.
You can also carry your oils around with you during the day so you can take them out to use them as needed. Create a mixture and put it into a roller ball applicator to help you easily apply the oil as needed to your:
- Arms and legs
- Soles of feet
It’s best to use small doses of oil throughout the day instead of a single large dose. Begin with only one or two drops and apply it every four to six hours. Remember that everyone is different, so the dose may vary for you based on your weight, age, and overall health.
You can also create your own lotions or body washes with your essential oil blends. Just add about five to six drops of your essential oil of choice to an unscented lotion and wear it throughout the day. Here is a good tutorial on mixing up your own essential oil lotions.
The sense of smell is a strong tool that can affect your feelings. These oils are quickly absorbed by smell receptors before being sent directly to the limbic system through the olfactory nerve. Because of this, essential oils are especially powerful through an aromatic application.
Diffusion is a simple way to benefit from essential oils aromatically. It is best to use diffusers that use cold air or water, although if you don't have a diffuser, there are other options.
You could simply put oil on a cotton ball and put it on your bedside table while you sleep, or even put it into the air vents of your car. You can even make a pleasant smelling spray by mixing the oil with water in a spray bottle.
You can also add five to six drops to a warm bath or an unscented lotion before applying it to the skin. What I have found really helpful at the end of a long day is making a hot compress with a towel and water, and adding essential oils to it before applying it to my body.
Avoid getting the oils near your eyes and inner ears, as well as near any broken, irritated, or injured skin.
Also, if you are making a bath, personalize it by adding your own bath salts or other essential oils so you can create a bath that will send you into dreamland.
Five Pre-Made Essential Oil Anxiety Blends
Companies make their own proprietary pre-made essential oils for anxiety blends. Using several of the oils that are listed above. With various concentrations and mixes of different essential oils, companies sell what they find to be the most effective combinations.
The good thing about this is that it is easy for you. You don't need to worry about mixing your own blends or buying several different bottles. You just buy one bottle to help fix your health concern. However, you are somewhat limited with these products, as you can't play around and mix different blends until you find what works for you. Also, you can't separate the oils to use them for individual purposes.
In the end, it is likely more cost effective to buy the individual oils that work for you and bottle them yourself, creating your own blends. Here is a great video that walks you through making your own blends of oils. However, if you want to go the no-fuss route, here are some great options:
Anxiety Relief Essential Oil Blend
This blend is a great natural solution to tone down your anxiety and promote relaxation. Anxiety Relief is known to help you have rational and logical thinking while you are dealing with stressful situations. It can help you center your mind and focus on the task at hand.
Anxiety Ease Synergy Blend Essential Oil
Anxiety Ease Synergy Blend's formula was created to help relieve the tension that comes with anxiety. It helps you to regain clarity and confidence by calming your mind. This mixture contains lemongrass, sweet orange, and ylang ylang.
True Bliss Anxiety Blend
The True Bliss Anxiety blend of vanilla, lavender, rose, citrus, patchouli, and cedarwood helps to renew your mind and body. With a blast of citrus, detoxifying agents, and a bouquet of botanicals, using this oil will clear your mind and give you serenity and relief.
Relax Synergy (Mental Relaxation)
The oils in Relax Synergy are some of the best for creating a peaceful and tranquil state. Use this blend after a stressful day to help you wind down. This blend contains marjoram, lavender, patchouli, geranium, mandarin, and chamomile.
Mood Bliss for Anxiety
MoodBliss has calming effects on the nervous system and helps to promote sleep. Ease your stress at night by putting a few drops of this oil into your diffuser so you can inhale it all night.
Five DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Anxiety
You can make your own blend to help you target exactly what is leading to your anxiety and find what works best for you (as well as what doesn’t). Because everyone has a different reaction to oils, doing a little trial and error to help create the perfect blend will be helpful in the long run. Here are some ideas for a few DIY recipes to make your own blends for anxiety.
Combine each of these recipes in a dark dropper bottle so your solution is protected from light. When you are not using it, store it in a cool, dry place. Make sure to give the bottle a good shake before using it to make sure everything is incorporated.
1. Last-Minute Anxiety Relief
If you walk into some unexpected stress or need something to take the edge off before walking into that big interview, combine:
- 20 drops patchouli
- 25 drops lavender
- 30 drops ylang-ylang
- 20 drops bergamot
Bergamot oil is a powerful mood enhancer and can reduce your sense of worry. Keep this mixture in a roller ball in your bag so you can always have it on hand.
2. All-Day Relief
If you want something that will work slow and steady all day, try this combination:
- 3 drops lavender
- 2 drops clary sage
Add these to an unscented lotion and put it on before leaving the house so you can enjoy the scents all day. You can also make a little travel bottle of this lotion to keep at your desk so you can reapply it as necessary.
3. If You Are Going Through a Stressful Time
Perhaps you recently had a loved one pass away, or you are going through a divorce. These stressful life events have a great impact on our well-being. If you have found yourself to be a bit more on edge lately than usual, try this:
- 5 drops patchouli
- 10 drops lavender
- 7 drops ylang-ylang
- 3 drops bergamot
- 3 drops valerian root
You may only need to use this mixture when times get tough.
4. If Your Children Need Anxiety Relief
Children get anxious also. This could be for a number of reasons, but it is never anything to ignore or brush off as kids just being kids. To help your anxious child, combine equal parts of:
- Ylang ylang
Mothers have used the gentle scent of chamomile for centuries to calm their children. While not all essential oils are appropriate for children, this blend is great to use when needed.
5. If You Need a Mood Boost
Sometimes you just get anxious because you are upset about something. That could hit at any time, so carrying this mixture around with you may help give you a much-needed pick-me-up:
- 2 drops patchouli
- 2 drops rose oil
- 1 drop bergamot
What I have found to best help anxiety is the last-minute anxiety relief blend. This is for when anxiety comes on fast and strong.
The patchouli in this blend helps to calm you down without any associated tiredness. This will give you a quick perk while also calming your mind.
As the go-to essential oil for anxiety relief, I know that the lavender scent will be dependable when you need to calm down. This oil can be very effective, while also smelling great.
Finally, the bergamot helps to give you a boost of cheer, which often overcomes any feelings of anxiety that you might have. Bergamot in this blend has been really helpful in putting a smile on my face during stressful situations.
What blends have you found to be effective?
Share them so other readers are able to benefit from your recipes, ideas, and experiences.
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