Stress and anxiety are common yet complicated conditions affecting people of all walks of life. Throughout the course of our lifetimes, most of us will experience anxiety, whether caused by specific stressors or of a more pervasive and chronic nature, usually indicating a diagnosable mental illness.
Often, stress and anxiety are confused. Stress is a natural part of life and essential to teaching the human body how to respond to various stimuli and situations. But, too much stress–or poorly managed stress–can lead to anxiety.
The effects of anxiety are detrimental to our health. Anxiety and excessive stress-strain the immune system, cause inflammation and can lead to chronic disease and oxidative stress (an imbalance that can cause multiple health issues). Pervasive anxiety can affect your total wellness, including your emotional, personal, social, and professional relationships and health.
Anxiety is often accompanied by depression. Depression may cause you to have poor sleeping habits, lose interest and pleasure in activities that you love, experience weight changes, and disengage from the outside world.
Anxiety and depression affect hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, some in more significant ways than others. While the prevalence of such disorders is increasing, the illnesses are not new nor are some of the remedies for them.
For millennia, humans have used herbs, essential oils, and aromatherapy as natural remedies for these ailments.
Should Essential Oils Be Used to Treat Anxiety?
Essential oils may alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. They are not a cure for the illnesses themselves. If you believe you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, consult your physician, as these conditions may require more comprehensive, clinical treatment and monitoring.1
Essential oils should never be considered replacements for traditional treatment options, such as therapy or medical management. Rather, essential oils should be used to meaningfully augment those treatment methods. When stress or anxiety are related to everyday challenges, essential oils may be all that you need to find balance. In either case, essential oils may be just one component of achieving holistic wellness.
Unlike many traditional medicines, essential oils typically don’t have many–if any–negative side effects when used correctly. And, in some cases, these oils can be used to help alleviate the side effects of other necessary traditional and prescription medicines.
Conveniently, many essential oil remedies are easily made at home or are available as blends, such as Zen MONQ, specifically designed to relieve stress. And, some bonuses? Essential oils are not only often less expensive than prescription medicines but they may also be used for a variety of ailments.
4 Methods of Treating Stress and Anxiety with Essential Oils
While essential oils may be used in a variety of ways, there are 4 common methods of delivery, which include room diffusion, inhalation, massage, and as a bath additive.
To calm the chatter in your head and uplift your spirit, add a few drops of Zen in a Bottle, relaxing lavender, meditative frankincense, or your preferred essential oil to a room diffuser for use throughout the day.
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There are many ways to breath in the benefits of essential oils without using a room diffuser.
We recommend a Zen MONQ personal diffuser, which delivers the essential oil remedy directly to the olfactory bulb, triggering neural connections to calm and relax.
Another method of inhalation is to place a few drops of a gentle, non-irritating, and diluted essential oil, such as sweet orange, rose, or vetiver, in the palms of your hands. Rub your hands together to warm and release the properties of the oil. Next, cup your hands over your nose and take five deep, slow breaths to help quiet feelings of anxiety or stress.
If you prefer to avoid applying the oils directly onto your skin, place one or two drops of these oils on a cotton pad or handkerchief and inhale.
If you wish to travel with your remedy, then add 3 to 6 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of natural, unscented lotion or carrier oil. Rub as desired onto your chest, neck, wrists, soles of your feet, and behind your ears to experience relief.
Add five to 10 drops of your preferred essential oil to your bath water to combat feelings of anxiety or stress. If your skin is sensitive, dilute the essential oil in 1 tablespoon of your preferred carrier oil before adding to the water, which will moisturize and protect your skin. Don’t add essential oils to running water as they will evaporate at a higher rate. Instead, add them once the tub is filled and just before getting in.
Top 10 Essential Oils for Anxiety and Stress & How to Use Them
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils used today and has application for nearly any mood. It has a fresh and floral aroma due to its high content of linalyl acetate and linalool, which studies suggest are effective in promoting relaxation and easing anxiety.2 Lavender is used by many to reduce stress, improve concentration, alleviate insomnia, and calm agitation.3
When used for anxiety, research suggests topical application of lavender essential oil is likely the best way to experience its full benefits. One research study showed that the medicinal properties of lavender essential oil become apparent in as little as five minutes after rubbing it onto the skin.4
How to Use Lavender Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Rub 2 to 3 drops of lavender essential oil into your palms and then take a deep breath. The essential oil quickly enters your bloodstream through your hands while also stimulating neural connections via the olfactory bulb to provide a nearly instant feeling of relaxation. This method is perfect for use while traveling, in the office, or in crowded spaces.
- Headache Relief: Rub 1 to 2 drops of lavender essential oil into your temples to experience relief from a tension headache. If you want to enjoy full-body relaxation, rub a couple of drops on your feet as well as your wrists.
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 4 drops of lavender essential oil, 2 drops of lemon essential oil, 2 drops clary sage oil, and 3 tablespoons of a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut, or moringa oil and use it as a body moisturizer or massage oil.
Bergamot essential oil is extracted from bergamot oranges and has a characteristic citrus scent. According to a study conducted in 2015, both human and animal trials revealed bergamot essential oil helps relieve anxiety, stimulates blood flow, and improves mood. You can find its active ingredients in antidepressant medications. Bergamot essential oil also helps invigorate the senses, clear the mind, and provide relaxation for the nervous system.
How to Use Bergamot Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Place several drops of bergamot essential oil on a handkerchief or cotton ball, or directly onto the palms of your hands and rub together to activate the oil. Inhale deeply and slowly. Repeat two or three times a day to experience relief from the symptoms of anxiety.
- Diffusion: Add several drops of bergamot essential oil to a room diffuser to experience relief from symptoms of anxiety and stress throughout the day and night.
- Rub: Apply 2 or 3 drops of bergamot essential oil directly to your feet, hands, stomach, or neck where it will be readily absorbed into the bloodstream for relief of symptoms.
**Note: Bergamot is phototoxic so avoid direct sun exposure for at least 12 hours after using the oil.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is well-known for its sedative and calming properties, and its alluring scent. While there is limited research available for treating anxiety with chamomile essential oil, some studies reveal that it may benefit people suffering from moderate or mild generalized anxiety disorder.
People often turn to chamomile essential oil to instill a sense of calm in both the body and the mind. Chamomile essential oil may help lift mood and reduce sleeplessness.
How to Use Chamomile Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Chamomile essential oil can be inhaled straight from the bottle to soothe the nervous system.
- Diffusion: Chamomile may be diffused using a room diffuser.
- Massage: Diluted chamomile essential oil can be massaged directly into the skin or added to a warm bath to experience relief from stress.
Rose Essential Oil
Rose essential oil comes from the petals of the rose flower, which have an enchanting floral scent that’s known to help relax the senses. A 2014 study revealed that using a rose aromatherapy foot bath may help lower anxiety in pregnant women during labor. Rose essential oil helps promote feelings of hope and joy and boosts self-esteem, which can be beneficial for those suffering from depression.5
The great thing about using rose essential oil for stress and anxiety relief is that you don’t have to use more than a slight dab to experience its powerful health effects. It is excellent for promoting tranquility, peace, and well-being as well as stimulating the mind.
How to Use Rose Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Rose essential oil may be inhaled directly from the bottle, the palms of your hands, or from a handkerchief.
- Rubbing: Rub several drops of rose essential oil on your neck and wrists for an instant mood lift.
- Diffusion: Add 2 or 3 drops of rose essential oil to your diffuser and allow it to spread throughout the air to stimulate your senses and invoke feelings of happiness and joy.
Orange Essential Oil
Orange essential oil is an intense citrus fruit oil that has a powerful and uplifting fragrance with proven stress-relieving benefits. Various research studies have shown that orange essential oil may provide relief from anxiety and stress and even help people who are on antidepressant medicines reduce their prescription use significantly.
How to Use Orange Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Diffusion: Orange essential oil is one of the best essential oils to use in a diffuser if you wish to refresh and uplift your mood. It’s also valuable for improving concentration and boosting energy levels.
- Inhalation: Orange essential oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle or from the palms of your hands to get an instant mood lift and awaken your senses.
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 6 drops of orange essential oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 3 teaspoons of carrier oil. Use as a full body massage oil.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
When dealing with the challenges of life, having a moment of peace and harmony is critical to your overall mental health and wellbeing. To enjoy increased focus, peace, and clarity, consider using sandalwood essential oil. It has a woody aroma and a powerful therapeutic effect on the brain while acting as an emotional balancer. Several studies have documented the health benefits of sandalwood essential oil.
How to Use Sandalwood for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Inhale sandalwood essential oil directly from the bottle or by rubbing it into your palms, on your wrists, or on a handkerchief. It is often used before meditation and yoga to foster focus and balance.
- Topical Application: Apply several drops of sandalwood essential oil directly onto your wrists and ankles to help relieve stress.
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 6 drops of sandalwood essential oil, 2 drops of rose essential oil, and 4 teaspoons of carrier oil. Use the blend as a full body massage oil.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang ylang is a floral-scented essential oil used to promote relaxation and a sense of calm. It is particularly helpful in mitigating stress, as ylang-ylang brings immediate peace and calm.
How to Use Ylang Ylang for Anxiety and Stress
- Topical Application: Rub several drops of ylang-ylang essential oil directly on your feet, neck, wrists, and back to reduce feelings of agitation.
- Diffusion: Ylang-ylang oil is great in a diffuser. A bonus: It is even believed to be an aphrodisiac!
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 1 drop clary sage oil, 1 drop of ylang-ylang oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 4 teaspoons of carrier oil, and use it as a massage blend.
Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage oil has a great aroma and is a natural antidepressant. It is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety with no associated side effects. It is perfect for uplifting your mood and can help ease the feelings of anxiety by calming your mind while boosting confidence and self-esteem. A study conducted on rats revealed that clary sage oil has the potential to positively influence the dopamine levels in both the brain and body.7
How to Use Clary Sage Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Inhalation: Clary sage oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle. Alternatively, you can apply 1 or 2 drops on your wrists or a handkerchief and inhale.
- Diffusion: Put 6 drops clary sage oil and 2 drops of orange essential oil in your diffuser to uplift your spirit whenever you are feeling down.
- Bath: Add several drops of clary sage oil to your bath water. Inhale deeply to ease feelings of stress and anxiety and lift your mood.
Jasmine Essential Oil
Jasmine essential oil derives from the jasmine flower. It not only helps in alleviating the feelings of anxiety but also stimulates the mind and uplifts mood to produce feelings of optimism and confidence.
Traditionally, jasmine was a natural remedy for insomnia, anxiety, depression, and low libido. Today, research confirms that traditional belief was accurate; many studies suggest that jasmine essential oil is as good as valium when it comes to overcoming stress and calming nerves.
How to Use Jasmine Essential Oil for Anxiety
- Inhalation: Inhale jasmine essential oil directly from the bottle, or inhale the oils from a handkerchief or your wrists.
- Topical Application: Rub several drops of jasmine essential oil directly on your ankles and wrists to relieve feelings of anxiousness.
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 1 drop of jasmine essential oil, 3 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 1 drop of ylang-ylang essential oil, and 4 teaspoons of carrier oil to use as a massage blend.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil is derived from the resin of the Boswellia tree, which is native to Somalia in Africa. It has a sweet, musky aroma that can help ease stress and anxiety. It is also believed to enhance intuition and spiritual experiences.
Frankincense essential oil is rich in sesquiterpenes, which are molecular structures capable of traveling through the blood-brain barrier and have been shown to alleviate the adverse effects of anxiety. According to the findings of a 2008 study testing a blend of frankincense, bergamot, and lavender, frankincense may help improve anxiety and pain in terminal cancer patients.8
How to Use Frankincense Essential Oil for Anxiety and Stress
- Diffusion: Diffuse several drops of frankincense essential oil in your home for relief after a long, tiring day.
- Bath: Add several drops of frankincense essential oil to your bath water. Inhale deeply and allow the stress to melt away.
- Stress Relief Blend: Mix 4 drops of frankincense essential oil, 2 drops of lemon essential oil, 4 drops of jasmine essential oil, and 4 teaspoons of carrier oil to make the perfect massage oil blend.
BONUS: Zen MONQ
Zen MONQ is a specially formulated blend featuring frankincense, sweet orange, and ylang-ylang with hints of black pepper, clary sage, dill seed, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, sage, spearmint, and tea tree, and has been scientifically proven to lead to relaxation.
The three primary and some secondary ingredients of the blend have all been shown to lift mood and/or relieve symptoms of stress.
How to Use Zen for Stress Relief
- Direction Inhalation: Use a Zen MONQ personal diffuser or the Zen MONQ-R to directly inhale the therapeutic benefits of Zen. Inhaling slowly through the mouth, exhale through the nose. Wait 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. Use throughout the day to achieve optimal relaxation.
- Diffuse: In a room diffuser, add Zen in a Bottle and diffuse as desired, day or night.
- Bath: Add several drops of Zen in a Bottle to a warm bath. Close your eyes and breath in the scent of peace and relaxation.
Warnings and Side Effects
Essential oils are both natural and powerful. Take care to use essential oils in their designated manner, diluting oils before applying to skin, and understanding the properties of the oils, such as phototoxicity.
Some people may develop an allergic or adverse reaction after using essential oils. For that reason, it is best to conduct a small skin patch test on your leg or arm to ensure that you don’t experience an undesired reaction. It is also advisable to consult a doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or nursing.
What Should You Look for When Buying Essential Oils?
It is always necessary to ensure that you only use 100 percent pure essential oils. The label of the bottle should display the proper name of the plant species from which the oil was derived.
Purchase essential oils from reputable sources that only sell organic products to ensure they are free of chemicals and toxins and are both undiluted and unfiltered. Always beware of genetically modified ingredients and only choose non-GMO oils.
The Bottom Line
All-natural, essential oil remedies capable of calming the mind and body may relieve anxiety and stress. It is important to remember that there are no fixed recipes or prescriptions for essential oil use, and people may respond different to individual oils and blends. Try experimenting with several essential oils while paying close attention to your body until you find the right blend that works optimally for your mind and body.
Photo credits: plprod/shutterstock.com, RossHelen/shutterstock.com, MadeleineSteinbach/shutterstock.com, LianeM/shutterstock.com, NewAfrica/shutterstock.com