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Aromatherapy for Mental Health: 5 Helpful Ways it Can Ease Feelings of Anxiety & Stress

By Krista

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Last Updated: July 2, 2022

Becoming overridden with anxiety and stress can leave you functioning at less than sub-optimal levels.

And the worst part? You know you aren’t doing you’re best. But at the same time, you simply can’t. It’s that whole being “stuck between a rock and a hard place” concept—leaving you spinning your wheels and making it seem as though there’s no way out.

However, if you’re experiencing anxiety and stress, you aren’t alone. 

About 40 million people in the United States have an anxiety disorder.

Another 33% of the general population reports feeling extremely stressed. And before the big “C” word took over our lives, the World Health Organization categorized stress as an epidemic. 

So, what can you do about it? On top of meditation and relaxation techniques, you can further your stress-reducing strategies by using aromatherapy for anxiety. So, how does it work? What are some essential oils you might want to try? Let’s take a look!

 

 

Do Essential Oils Help With Mental Health?

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils, aroma extracts from plants, for a specific purpose, such as relaxation or reducing pain. And yes, it can be used to help alleviate stress and anxiety—at least, to some extent!

Research even shows how aromatherapy can help reduce anxiety, improving a person’s emotional, mental, and spiritual state, when going through medical treatments. Yet, this can also easily be applied to everyday life. 

In other good news, there’s also a variety of techniques to include aromatherapy as part of your anxiety-reducing or stress-relieving routine, such as:

 

1. Using a Diffuse

An aromatherapy diffuser only requires a few drops of essential oil (don’t worry, we’re going to look at what exact essential oils you should use for alleviating stress and anxiety below!), which then emits the fragrance into the air. 

This is a great way to relax during an intense (and particularly stressful!) work session. Or you can use this as part of your bubble bath routine or during a meditation routine to add a little oomph! 

Related Article: What is Aromatherapy? 5 Benefits & How it Can Help You in Your Every Day

 

2. Applying a Few Drops to Your Skin

First and foremost, before applying anything to your skin, make sure you do a quick test with a drop on the inside of your wrist.

This can help avoid any undetected allergies.

Once you’ve tested it out, try applying a few drops to the areas of your body that you think would be beneficial. For instance, applying to the inner wrist and then inhaling the scent can help you truly relax and let go.

 

3. Applying the Essential Oil to a Washcloth

Aromatherapy for stress and anxiety may simply involve adding a couple of drops of your essential oil to a cup with water.

From there, dip a washcloth into the mixture. You can then apply it to your body from there or inhale the scent from the cloth. 

The cool part about this strategy is that you can keep these sealed in the fridge for later use!

 

4. Carrying Scented Essential Oil Sticks in Your Purse

Anxiety can strike when we don’t expect it.

You might suddenly find yourself in a situation where you’re in complete and utter panic mode. Having go-tos, such as an essential oil stick, can help you calm down when you need it the most.

 

5. Adding Essential Oils to Your Lotions

Or better yet, you can even buy some body lotions and moisturizers that include essential oils to help you find your state of calm.

The act of rubbing them onto your body may further help soothe and relax your nervous system, allowing that stress response to simmer.

Related Article: These 11 Relaxing Activities Will Refresh & Recharge Your Mind, Body and Spirit

 

 

Essential Oils for Anxiety

Alright, so now you know how to use aromatherapy for anxiety. But what essential oils should you include in your regime?

Here are a few:

Valerian

Research shows how this essential oil can help calm the nervous system, even helping individuals get to sleep!

Lavender

Extensively studied in connection to decreasing stress and anxiety, it’s thought that lavender may help the body and mind relax by influencing the limbic system, which plays a major role in emotional regulation.

Jatamansi

This essential oil produces a similar scent to valerian—both are quite woody and earthy—but Jatamansi is thought to promote anti-anxiety effects by increasing GABA in the brain.

Holy Basil

Stressed out? This spicy and minty scent has been shown to treat both the mental and physical symptoms associated with stress.

Bergamot

For a bit of positivity, this aroma is the way to go! Bergamot reduces anxiety and even enhances your mood. (Careful with this one though! Applying it can actually increase your chances of developing a sunburn.)

Chamomile

This one likely comes as no surprise. Chamomile is well-known for its sleep-enhancing effects.

But on top of this, it has also shown great promise as a complementary treatment for those with generalized anxiety disorder.

Overall, aromatherapy for stress and anxiety can help calm your nervous system, helping you find that balanced state and perform at the level you desire.

 

 

Does Aromatherapy Work for Stress?

There’s really only one way to find out; try it!

Grab an aroma that sounds appealing to you and see if it helps you relax. It’s also important to note here that aromatherapy shouldn’t replace any necessary treatment, such as therapy or medications recommended by your doctor. 

At the same time, they certainly can enhance and soothe your body and mind, guiding you toward a more balanced, happy, and healthy life.

So, grab the tools you need. Buy that aroma. And start using aromatherapy for your anxiety! You don’t have to live with it. There are solutions.

Read Next: Try These 7 Daily Anxiety-Reduction Techniques to Help You Worry Less

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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2 comments on “Aromatherapy for Mental Health: 5 Helpful Ways it Can Ease Feelings of Anxiety & Stress”

  1. As a qualified aromatherapist, I feel the advice in this article to apply a few drops of essential oil directly to your skin could be very harmful.
    Most essential oils need to be diluted into a carrier oil before being applied to the skin at a maximum of 10% solution for the body and 2% for the face. Only lavender essential oil is considered completely safe for undiluted application.
    Also to test an essential oil you should place one drop onto a cotton bud and dab a tiny bit onto the inside of your wrist or elbow and leave for at least 30 minutes to see if there is a reaction. It is better to leave it overnight.
    For more safety advice on essential oils visit Dr Eric Zielinski’s site naturallivingfamily.com

    1. Thanks Julia, yes that is a very important distinction to make! We will update this to make sure everyone is being safe. Thank you for your advice!

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