These days, many of us are struggling to manage our anxiety. If you’re tossing and turning at night, have racing thoughts throughout the day, or are feeling excessively worried, inhaling the sweet smell of essential oils could help.
Essential oils are concentrated oils that are extracted from plants and used for a variety of therapeutic and medicinal purposes. Aromatherapy has been used by ancient traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for ages, and it’s said that certain scents can send signals through our nervous system and alter our brain chemistry. Today, essential oils are touted for their health-boosting properties when inhaled and applied directly to the skin.
The best essential oils for anxiety help to promote a sense of ease and calm. You can use these oils before bed or anytime you’re feeling anxious or worried. Diffuse them using a diffuser in the room you’re in, inhale the scent directly from the bottle (for at least five deep breaths), or apply them topically to your temples and wrists. If applying to the skin, be sure to dilute your oils in a carrier oil like jojoba oil (we love this one from Art Naturals: $11.95, Amazon). Check out our favorite essential oils for anxiety below.
One of the most popular essential oils, lavender has so many uses, and it’s particularly helpful for stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Some research suggests that the scent of lavender can relax the nervous system by activating the limbic area of the brain.
Lavender can be diffused or applied topically, and it’s also great in a warm bath. We love this lavender oil from Healing Solutions ($7.99, Amazon).
Bergamot essential oil is actually extracted from bergamot oranges, so it’s got a crisp, citrusy scent. Research suggests that inhaling bergamot helps relieve anxiety and improve mood for both human and animal subjects! So if you’ve got a fussy pet in your home, diffuse bergamot!
Bergamot can increase sun sensitivity when applied to the skin, so it’s best diffused or inhaled directly. Try this bergamot oil from Healing Solutions ($8.99, Amazon).
Chamomile is well-known as a calming herb, and you’ll find it in many sleep aids. Even further, some evidence suggests that chamomile can be used to effectively treat symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
To use chamomile for anxiety, diffuse it with a few drops of lavender and vanilla (the smell is heavenly!), or apply to the temples or bottoms of the feet before bed. We love this chamomile oil from Sweet Valley ($12.99, Amazon).
Valerian is yet another powerful sleep aid, and it can help tame anxious thoughts. Valerian oil contains compounds that calm the nervous system and induce sleep. It also has a sedating effect on the body.
Valerian oil has a strong musty scent, so think twice before applying it on your person if you’re out in public. Inhale the scent of valerian oil directly from the bottle to soak up its calming effects, or, if you don’t mind the scent, try placing a drop or two on your pillow before bed. Use this valerian oil from Healing Solutions ($19.99, Amazon).
You might not be familiar with clary sage oil, but it’s got potent anti-anxiety powers. One review of studies showed that clary sage relieved tension and lowered levels of cortisol — the stress hormone — in women.
Clary sage has an earthy, herbal smell. You can diffuse or inhale it, and it’s also wonderful as a massage oil. Dilute five drops of clary sage oil with one tablespoon of carrier oil and massage any tense areas like the neck and shoulders or feet and hands. We love this clary sage oil from Plant Therapy ($10.95, Amazon).