Being overcome with feelings of stress or anxiety can be incredibly daunting at times.
For those of us that experience these emotions often, the desire to find a reliable remedy can be extremely high, particularly if certain other techniques have been failing to combat the issue.
Aromatherapy has sky-rocketed in recent years as an effective solution to the problem, with many people diffusing essential oils in their homes as a way to target these unpleasantries and encourage relaxation in their environment.
Essential oils also draw upon the "spa-like" atmosphere commonly associated with relaxation, which may contribute to their overall popularity.
In general, though, it is not simply the scent or the presence of the oil that can encourage a calmer state of mind, but rather its natural chemical makeup.
Some essential oils carry components that have been proven to target certain areas of the brain, and inhaling them can actively balance out any hormonal imbalances causing anxiety or stress.
With a 25% increase in anxiety and other related conditions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's no wonder that, now more than ever, people are looking toward aromatherapy for help in their day-to-day lives.
For those that are suffering with anxiety or stress to a more severe degree, essential oils should always be used in conjunction with professional medical help and advice.
What are essential oils?
Naturally derived from plants, fruits, and other botanicals, essential oils are powerful substances with a wealth of benefits at their disposal.
While not all essential oils target the same thing, many of them can be used alongside one another to encourage a more balanced state of wellness in both the mind and the body.
Certain essential oils have also undergone countless studies in relation to mental health, and could be incredibly useful when inhaled or applied topically.
As essential oils are incredible potent, the must be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.
What are the best essential oils for anxiety?
We've narrowed down a list of the top 10 most beneficial essential oils for anxiety, based on scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence.
It is important to note, of course, that mental health is incredibly complex, and thus different oils can react in slightly different ways depending on your own personal biology.
Feel free to experiment with as many choices on this list as you like, and remember that while these oils may not necessarily solve chronic cases of anxiety, they may certainly be useful in aiding symptoms.
Perhaps the most famous essential oil on this list, the sweet, floral scent of lavender essential oil is one that has been revered for its calming abilities for centuries.
Known for targeting sleep issues, as well as issues regarding the nervous system, lavender oil can promote a sense of inner peace by directly stimulating the olfactory system in the brain.
This in turn activates parts of the body responsible for blood pressure, heart rate, and mood, which naturally calms the body down.
A 2013 evidence-based review noted that smelling lavender for stress may even carry the same affect as common medications, with an earlier 2012 study pointing towards lavender's positive impact on the limbic system - the area responsible for our emotional responses.
Diffusing lavender oil in your spaces when you feel a bout of anxiety coming on could be a great way to nip related symptoms in the bud.
A mixture of lavender and a carrier oil could also be beneficial for applying to the temples or for preforming a restorative massage in the event of increased stress.
A 2011 study measured the impact of a bergamot and lavender blend on a number of bodily responses related to low mood - including blood pressure, pulse rates, and skin temperatures.
Those that inhaled the essential oils were said to improve significantly when compared to a placebo test group.
A further 2017 study also measured the stress-relieving effects of bergamot in relation to anxious women awaiting appointments at a mental health treatment centre.
Inhalation of the oil was said to reduce these feelings as well as promote a greater sense of positivity overall.
Bergamot oil has also been linked to the reduction of cortisol levels - the hormone responsible for stress.
Ylang ylang oil
Another popular floral pick, ylang ylang essential oil is perhaps most recognised as a key ingredient in the infamous Chanel No. 5 perfume - but its impact on anxiety is just as notable.
A 2018 study conduced on mice discovered that the scent of ylang ylang was able to successfully influence processes in the hippocampus, allowing for an increase in serotonin to the brain. This, in turn, produces a soothing effect against anxiety.
A 2006 study also pointed to the effectiveness of ylang ylang oil when combined with lavender and bergamot. These three oils have thus been combined to make up our Anti-Anxiety Essential Oil Blend - designed specifically for targeting these issues through aromatherapy.
Clary sage oil
Commonly known as "the women's oil", clary sage essential oil has been highly admired for its hormone-balancing abilities for many years.
Like lavender, clary sage is said to directly impact the olfactory system and facilitate an overall sense of calm. While it is particularly useful for menstrual-related anxiety, diffusing clary sage during any moment of stress could help reduce symptoms.
A 2013 study confirmed these stress-relieving effects on women undergoing a medical examination, noting that the inhalation of clary sage reduced blood pressure levels and calmed temperaments overall.
Learn more about the benefits of clary sage essential oil.
A popular fragrance for scenting shampoo and body wash, geranium essential oil is another light and floral oil that can help see you through anxious moments.
Geranium is a natural sedative, meaning it can relax the brain and body by gently modifying communications to the central nervous system.
A study conducted in 2018 confirmed these effects, noting their relevance as a calming agent for reducing anxiety and low mood.
Try rubbing a mixture of geranium oil and a carrier oil into your temples the next time you encounter stress.
Learn more about the benefits of geranium essential oil.
Sweet orange oil
Orange essential oil contains anxiolytic properties that coin it as a natural remedy for anxiety.
Like bergamot, its citrus root makes it incredibly useful for dispelling negative emotions and facilitating an overall sense of positivity, with a study in 2014 demonstrating the oil's further success toward feelings of relaxation and comfort.
Orange oil has also been linked to the reduction of stress and anxiety surrounding labour, so could be beneficial to keep in your hospital bag if you're expecting.
Learn more about the benefits of orange essential oil.
Steeped in biblical tradition, frankincense essential oil may seem like an unlikely pick for reducing stress, but it is certainly a worthy one.
Researchers in a 2008 animal study noted frankincense's ability to activate TRPV channels in the brain, which would produce a warming effect on the skin.
This warming effect was then linked to feelings of positivity, and was revered to such a degree that it was considered equal in efficiency to several common mood-balancing medications.
Learn more about the benefits of frankincense essential oil.
Rosemary essential oil may be most popular for its benefits toward hair growth, but its anti-anxiety effects are also worth considering for your daily wellness routine.
A study conduced by a team of dentists in 2007 found that five minutes of rosemary oil inhalation greatly reduced salivary cortisol levels in healthy patients, causing their anxiety levels to drop significantly.
Reduction of cortisol can also further help with issues surrounding sleep as well as boosting the immune system.
Learn more about the benefits of rosemary essential oil.
Sometimes referred to as "the oil of tranquillity", vetiver essential oil carries an extremely luxurious aroma that can do more than simply add sophistication to your spaces.
A study in 2015 linked the inhalation of vetiver to stress relief, relaxation, and increased focus, making it an ideal companion of exam-related anxiety.
Vetiver is also able to balance testosterone levels, which are known to become displaced during periods of stress.
Learn more about the benefits of vetiver essential oil.
Patchouli essential oil's roots in 1960s Hippie culture have certainly created social ties to relaxation, but are these actually impactful in reality?
In short, yes. Inhaling patchouli oil is said to directly encourage the release of serotonin and dopamine - two hormones famously associated with reducing stress and promoting positivity.
A 2020 study performed on ER nurses found that those who inhaled patchouli before their shifts encountered less stress than those who did not use aromatherapy at all.
Patchouli is also said to help balance and boost testosterone levels in men.
Learn more about the benefits of patchouli essential oil.
Aromatherapy is certainly a naturally powerful asset against anxiety and stress, however it's important to note that too much of a good thing could also cause issues, so try not to diffuse these oils at every second of the day.
Simply having them at your disposal can provide a sense of security in moments of anxiety, and when you really need them, their scents can provide just the right atmosphere to settle you back into a calm and balanced space.
If you find yourself too spoiled for choice, our homemade Anti-Anxiety and Relax & Unwind Essential Oil Blends can help target all the right areas without the need for experimentation.