3 Power Oils to Ease Anxiety & Stress
Even the most calm, cool and collected people in the world might be currently experiencing some stress and anxiety. Between a global pandemic that shows no sign of ending soon, protests surrounding racial injustices and the hard times that many face, including unemployment, financial instability and sickness, it can be hard to decompress and find a way to cope with stress.
In today’s world, it is more vital than ever that we prioritize and find the time to relax- and essential oils can help us.
Essential oils contain volatile organic compounds (compounds that can vaporize and become a gas.) These gases exert an effect when they penetrate the body not unlike prescription drugs do, either entering through the skin or nerves in your nose. Inhaling essential oils does cause a reaction in the brain, and there is evidence to back up the assertion that certain oils can have a calming effect; one 2005 study found that test subjects who were exposed to lavender oil experienced an increase in deep, slow-wave sleep (1).
This is because our sense of smell is controlled by the olfactory (nose) nerve, which connects to the temporal lobe in the brain. The temporal lobe contains the hippocampus and the amygdala. The hippocampus plays a role in the memory of past experiences, and the amygdala is the emotional center of the brain.
This means that when you inhale these molecules, they shoot right into the emotional part of your brain! This is why inhaling gases and fumes (good or bad) is so significant. Inhaling things is a faster route to affecting the brain than eating something, because when something is eaten it must be digested before it can enter the bloodstream, and then the brain.
This effect on the emotional part of the brain means that when people smell essential oils, their emotional state is altered; different oils can make people feel happy, peaceful, content, and excited. Aside from emotions, this part of the brain has direct connections with the parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, breathing, memory, and balance of hormones.
Popular methods of inhaling essential oils to help get a good night's sleep include putting a few drops on a cotton ball or in a bath, or spraying a pillow, or diffusing the oil with an essential oil diffuser. When putting essential oil directly on the skin, it is important that the oil be diluted, otherwise it may be irritating. In this case, it’s best to use a roll-on essential oil that includes a carrier oil like jojoba oil.
Here we’ve outlined the top 3 essential oils to help you relax and reduce stress and anxiety- all while smelling good!
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils, and for good reason. It’s a rock star of relaxation, and the scent alone can calm down the nervous system. Lavender oil has traditionally been used for its therapeutic and curative properties for thousands of years.
According to the NIH in 2013, a study was conducted whereby thirty-six patients admitted to an intensive care unit reduce their anxiety and moodiness regarding their stressful circumstances by using the lavender oil (2). The same results were found for fourteen female patients who were being treated from chronic hemodialysis (a procedure for kidney failure.) Lavender improved a host of symptoms like insomnia, restlessness, and somatic complaints, as well as their overall wellbeing.
Ylang Ylang, an essence extracted from the Indonesian Cananga tree, can reduce heart rate, improve your mood, and promote internal feelings of comfort and relaxation. It’s sedating effects lowers blood pressure and makes it a powerful and healthy addition to a de-stressing routine.It’s an important oil to try if you need to balance and improve emotional health!
Frankincense is great for treating anxiety- and depression as well. It provides calm and tranquility, but is energizing rather than draining. It is often used for meditation and can help with spiritual grounding. because it provides a calming and tranquil energy as well as spiritual grounding. Frankincense deepens meditation and quiets the mind.
Mixed with bergamot and lavender oils in a 1:1 ratio in an aroma hand massage, frankincense was found to have a positive effect on pain and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer in a Keimyung University study in Korea (3).
Anxiety and stress are an everyday part of life for a great number of people; relieving stress the natural way is often a great option for a lot of people. With these three essential oils, you can easily adjust your mood and stay healthy- and of course, smell good!