Aromatherapy for Anxiety and Stress Relief

essential oil anxiety relief, aromatherapy for anxiety and stress relief

By Val Silver

Using aromatherapy for anxiety and stress relief is an enjoyable way to ease tension, worry and feelings of panic. When your nerves are getting the bet of you, essential oils provide pleasurable relief to otherwise difficult moments.

Let's face it. There are times when life seems to spiral out of control and we need a little help. You know the signs - apprehension and trouble focusing. You may sigh a lot, sweat, breathe faster, get dry mouth or have palpitations. Muscles tense up and you feel like running away or running to the toilet.

At times like these, aromatherapy stress relief essential oils may be just what you need to calm down.

What's great about these remedies is that they are convenient to keep handy for on the spot help. They complement other techniques, such as deep breathing. A relaxing bath or massage is enhanced by their scent and actions.

Essential oils for anxiety include: basil, bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, geranium, lavender, lemon, neroli, orange, petitgrain, rose, ylang ylang and sandalwood.

4 Ways of Relieving Anxiety with Aromatherapy 

 There are four ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy for anxiety relief. They are: inhalation, topical applications, massage, and warm baths.

Enjoy a warm bath to melt away distress.

aromatherapy stress relief, Epsom salts

Both the warm water and the essential oils for anxiety work together to make baths therapeutic and relaxing for mind and body. 

Add six to ten drops of your favorite essential oil anxiety blend to very warm water to soothe away the stresses of the day. Mix with a carrier oil or salts first to help them disperse better.

Supercharge the relaxing health effects of your bath by mixing your essential oils into dead sea salts containing magnesium chloride and other minerals. Epsom salts are also therapeutic. Sip a cup of calming herbal tea while soaking away your worries.

Tip: Get The Ultimate Guide to Stress-Relieving Baths by Val Silver for more ways to destress as you bathe.

stress relief guide, baths

Topical applications and massage

Topical applications, massage, and aromatherapy for anxiety relief go hand in hand. Rubbing essential oils into your skin or getting a massage with aromatherapy stress relief oils is like a bit of heaven on earth. It is relaxing, comforting, and smells divine. 

Topical applications of essential oils for anxiety penetrate the skin and begin to enter your bloodstream within minutes. They interact with your physiology to help you calm down and relax. At the same time, you also inhale the soothing scents of the volatile organic compounds for quick, direct benefits from nose to brain. 

Add 4-8 drops of your favorite essential oil anxiety or stress blend to one ounce of jojoba or sweet almond carrier oil. You can find massage oil blends ready made, too.

Dilute the essential oils with the carrier oils to help them glide over your skin and reduce the chance of irritation. Mix up your batch in an amber bottle (or clear bottle stored out of the light) so it is handy when you need it. Roll between your hands to blend.

Before your massage, inhale the aroma from your hands. Massage your hands, including your fingers (to stimulate acupressure points) and the web between your thumb and forefinger. Massage your neck, jaw, and shoulders. Use a firm, yet gentle pressure that feels good. Notice the tension and feel it easing away. Keep your focus on the feeling of being massaged and your breath, not on what you are feeling anxious about.

Even better, warm the oil, lay down, and receive a slow, gentle back and shoulder massage from a loved one or professional masseuse. Feel your stress, tension and anxiety melt away.

Use inhalation for quick stress relief.

Inhalation is the quickest and easiest way to use aromatherapy for anxiety and stress relief.

Taking slow, steady, focused breaths of calming essential oils is a sure fire remedy for easing anxious feelings. Molecules immediately make their way to your brain via the olfactory nerve. They influence your brain to send calming signals to your nervous system and your body.

Since your goal is relaxation, choose oils that elicit the 'ahh response' when you inhale. If you don't like the aroma, it will make you feel more stressed, regardless of what the herbal profile says. 

Diffusers, spray bottles, spritzes, and sniffing right out of the bottle are easy ways experience the benefits of essential oils for anxiety and stress. A great benefit of diffusers is that they can double as a small humidifier while contributing to a soothing atmosphere in your home or work space.

If you are lucky enough to have a lavender or lemon balm plant, gently break off a leaf or flower, crush it in your palms and inhale. Heavenly. Sniffing the skin of fresh oranges and lemons will also deliver the volatile oils to your brain. 

Inhalation oils can be added to a carrier oil or salts. An empty lip balm container filled with essential oil infused salts works well for on-the-go aromatherapy stress relief.

Essential Oil Anxiety and Stress Relief Remedies

Deciding on which essential oils to use for anxiety and stress relief often comes down to personal preferences. Choose single oils or blends based on your needs and scent preferences. Listen to your body. No matter what benefits are stated, if you don't like the scent, find it irritating, or it gives you a headache, the essential oil is not good for helping you relieve anxiety and stress. 

Blends are sometimes better because they have a synergistic, broader effect, but a well-chosen single essential oil may be just what you need. If possible, sample a variety of singles and blends and choose the ones that help you feel calmer. 

If you are not experienced at blending, purchase a ready-made calming aromatherapy for anxiety blend from a reputable source, stick with your favorite essential oil, or follow one of the easy aromatherapy recipes below. 

Note: Always use genuine essential oils for anxiety, stress, and other health concerns, instead of synthetic fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are made of chemicals, have no therapeutic effect, and may aggravate sensitivities.


aromatherapy stress relief, lavender

When thinking of aromatherapy for anxiety, lavender is one of the first essential oils to come to mind. It is found in many stress-relieving blends. But does lavender really help with anxiety? A lot of people will say yes and research supports this claim. 

When inhaled, the linalool in lavender activates olfactory neurons in the nose that activate GABA receptors. This quiets the brain and nervous system, thus reducing agitation and restless feelings. 

 Lavender has a special affinity for women. although men like it too. 

How do you use lavender oil for anxiety and stress? 

Lavender is one of the few essential oils you can use 'neat', meaning it is gentle enough for most people to use directly on their skin without having to be diluted in a carrier oil. It is a good idea to test first, just to make sure. It can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you apply it to the skin or just inhale, remember that the relaxing benefits come when you can smell the lavender. The essential oil must be inhaled through the nose.

  • If you are lucky enough to have a lavender plant nearby, gently pull or snip off a few leaves. Roll them in your hands to release the essential oil, and breathe into your cupped hands. Lovely. 
  • For instant relief, keep a little roller bottle of lavender essential oil with you to rub on your wrists and to sniff when needed. A super easy way to enjoy a quick inhalation break is to put a drop of lavender oil in the palm of your hands. Rub your hands together, then cup them over your nose and mouth. Inhale deeply and slowly from your hands. An audible 'ahh' tells you the remedy is working to ease mind and body tension.
  • Add several drops of lavender oil to a humidifier or diffuser. If that isn't handy, add one or two drops to a cotton ball or to coarse salt in a small container. Keep the container sealed until you want to take a whiff.
  • Add several drops to your bath water. 
  • Use lavender alone or with other anxiety essential oils such as chamomile, rose, geranium, clary sage and sandalwood.  Lavender blends well with other oils and is a staple in many commercial blends.

Aromatherapy for Anxiety Blends

The following easy aromatherapy for anxiety and stress recipes well for inhalation. They can help you calm down, relax, and even get a good night sleep. To adapt them for massage and baths, blend the essential oils with a carrier oil. 

  • "Aaahh" Blend - Combine 3 parts lavender to one part clary sage in a small vial. Roll between your palms to blend thoroughly. Store in a handy place out of the light. Use two or three times a day or as needed. For on-the-go relief, keep a small bottle in your desk or purse. A drop on a cotton ball stored in a baggie also does the trick.
  • Restful Sleep Spritz - Add several drops of you favorite calming oils to four ounces of pure water in a spray bottle. Add one or two drops of essential oil at a time until you have a concentration you enjoy. Shake and  spritz on your nightie or pillow. If you spritz the air a few times and then stand under it as the droplets fall, it is very nice.
  • This relaxing massage blend of floral, earthen, sweet essential oils will appeal to men and women. Combine10 drops of Lavender, 7 drops of Cedarwood, and 1 drop of Ylang Ylang essential oils with 1/4 carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil in a glass bottle. Roll between palms to blend the oils. Shake or roll the bottle before each use. 

Popular essential oils such as Roman chamomile, lavender, ylang ylang and marjoram do double duty for massage by relieving tension and calming emotional distress. 

Stress relief blends are often general remedies instead of focusing on a specific symptom or type of distress. In her book, The Fragrant Mind,  Valerie Wormwood provides specific aromatherapy for anxiety recipes.

  • For tense anxiety with muscle pain and bodily tension she recommends a blend of 10 drops clary sage, 15 drops lavender and 5 drops Roman chamomile.
  • For apprehensive anxiety with a sense of foreboding, worrying, and feeling paranoid she recommends a blend of 15 drops Bergamot, 5 drops Lavender, and 10 drops Geranium.

Aromatherapy for anxiety, stress, and insomnia

When anxiety and stress get the better of you, your sleep may suffer, as well. Then, lack of sleep causes even more anxiety and upset. Not good.

If worry is messing with your sleep, consider using one or more of the following essential oils alone or in a blend as part of your bedtime routine

  • roman chamomile
  • neroli
  • bergamot
  • ylang ylang
  • sweet orange
  • lemon
  • lavender
  • lemon balm
  • basil
  • sweet marjorom
  • ravensara
  • valerian
  • sweet thyme

As part of a holistic approach to overcoming anxiety, aromatherapy for anxiety offers pleasurable and effective help. However, do not rely on essential oils alone to ease more than mild anxious feelings. If you suffer from severe anxiety, you may have a medical condition. Please consult your health provider for assistance.

Related Pages

Aromatherapy for anxiety and stress relief page updated 10/2020

Best Essential Oils for Anxiety
The Fragrant Mind by Valerie Wormwood

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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