Calming essential oils for anxiety can soothe racing thoughts, overall stress, tight muscles, and panic attacks.
Stress and anxiety are part of life—and some years, we really get a doozy of a dose. Fortunately, there’s a powerful, natural tool that can help us cope with all this swirling anxiety: aromatherapy.
Essential oils—whether enjoyed via a diffuser, applied to the skin of pulse points in a carrier oil, or mixed into bath or massage products—can help calm our jangled nerves and take the edge off anxiety.
There has been an increasing amount of scientific research into why and how essential oils work to treat various health conditions, including essential oils for anxiety. When essential oils reach the receptor cells in our noses, they transmit a signal to our brain’s limbic and hypothalamus areas; the brain in response releases feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins, and we start to feel that ahhh relief sensation. And even the act of preparing our essential oil blends or pulling out the diffuser can relax us, becoming rituals of self-care.
Of course, not all anxiety can be treated via aromatherapy. If anxiety is interfering with daily life, talk to your doctor for help managing the symptoms of anxiety, which can include not only excessive worry, but also other issues such as insomnia, headaches, GI issues, and more.
Here are some of the best essential oils for anxiety.
Jasmine: For Daytime Anxiety
Widely used in Thailand for aromatherapy, sensual jasmine oil comes from small white or yellow flowers. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Health Research showed that inhaling jasmine oil had positive effects on brain wave activities and mood states, triggering feelings of wellbeing, without making the test subjects feel sleepy.
Lavender: For Nighttime Anxiety
Unlike jasmine, lavender does make people feel drowsy, making lavender essential oil ideal for use in the evening, before bed, or to treat middle-of-the-night anxiety when those 2 a.m. worries come calling. (Discover more ways to deal with nighttime anxiety.)
Bergamot: For Restless Anxiety
This citrusy essential oil is known to be both stabilizing and invigorating. Healthline recommends placing a few drops of the oil onto a cotton ball or a handkerchief and giving it two to three good sniffs to combat anxiety.
Ylang Ylang: For Anxiety with Low Self-Esteem
Pronounced “ee-lang, ee-lang,” this essential oil has a sweet, rich, floral scent and may help reduce negative emotions. Try two or three drops in an aromatherapy diffuser or a single drop onto sheets before bedtime.
Rose Oil: For Anxiety With Depression
Rose oil was found to be a good essential oil for anxiety in a 2009 study, which reported that subjects inhaling rose oil exhibited decreasing breathing rate and blood pressure—that it, their bodies became more relaxed. The test subjects also self-reported feeling calmer and less stressed in terms of their emotions.
Authentic rose oil is pricey, as it takes thousands of rose petals to create a small quantity of rose oil. Add a tiny drop of this precious oil to a lit candle’s liquid wax area to gently diffuse the scent into the air.
Neroli: For Anxiety With Panic Attacks
A “roller” or roll-on essential oil container is ideal for people prone to sudden anxiety, since you may not know when panic may strike. Neroli has relaxing qualities and is also thought to lift the spirits. This essential oil for anxiety is ideal for use during a panic attack while, say, driving, or right before giving a presentation. Keep a roller in your purse or backpack.
Sweet Marjoram: For Anxiety With Muscle Tension
Marjoram essential oil can be used to treat muscle aches after overdoing exertion. But it can also help treat our emotional sprains and strains—mix a little of this essential oil into massage oil to treat neck and back tension, or for an anxiety-relieving foot massage.
Want more? Read "4 Essential Oil Blends to Help Ease Inflammation."