It’s never been a secret that I struggle with anxiety! It’s something I’m happy to openly discuss and I’m always on the lookout for new strategies or techniques for dealing with it.
When my doctor told me to look into essential oils as a new tool for helping with anxiety (especially with sleep, which is one of my big struggles), I was a bit surprised. I had always liked the idea of these adorable glass bottles of smelly magic, but it all seemed a bit too…simple.
So I did my research, and I gave it a try. Much like trying out a plant-based diet, there are good reasons to give it a go:
- It doesn’t cost very much to get started
- It’s quite low risk
- You might see genuine health improvements
- Worst case, you make your house a little more pleasant to be in
So you can try it for yourself, and see what works for you.
In this post, I want to discuss using a diffuser, and recommend different oils that particularly help with anxiety and stress. So let’s get started!
Ways to Use Your Essential Oils
The way that you insert essential oils into your life is really up to you. You can use it topically, in your environment, whatever you like – and if you’re in need of ideas, I’ve made a helpful post with a bunch of suggestions!
For this post I’m focusing on using an oil diffuser. This is the main way that I use essential oils for my anxiety, due to the fact that I can “set it and forget it” when going to bed.
There are hundreds if not thousands of different diffusers out there. Finding the right one for you might be a challenge, so you should decide what features you want it to have, such as…
- a timer feature
- lights, either solid or alternating
- bluetooth connectivity (very fancy)
- capacity (will determine how long it can run without shutting off)
- appearance, if matching to decor
I’m very happy with mine. It’s fairly simple, with a lid that opens for the water and oil, and just three buttons (on/off, a timer button, and lights).
If you’re in the market for one, here are a couple really well reviewed ones from Amazon. Purchasing using these affiliate links helps support this website!
And if by chance you’ve purchased some essential oils and the bottles that they came in have turned out to be defective (this happened to me!), check out my little tutorial on how to decant your oils into better, prettier bottles!
Essential Oils for Anxiety
It’s up to you which of the following oils you incorporate into your routine. Of course, make sure they’re scents that you actually like – there should be samples open if you buy them in a physical store, and if you’re buying online, there are guides to explain the type of scent.
Following the instructions that come with your particular diffuser about how many drops of oil to use at a time, try different combinations of oils to see how they work together. Even just one by itself is nice – I use lavender by itself sometimes – or try a little bit of everything!
You’re probably already familiar with chamomile tea, famous for relaxing before bedtime. But you can also get this lovely flower in an oil! It’s well known for its calming properties, and is a great starter oil for managing stress and anxiety.
There were a lot of academic papers published in the early 2010s about the role of chamomile as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant option. A randomized, double-blind study from 2009 showed a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms from the group using a chamomile extract. That’s a pretty encouraging result!
The different strain of lavender used in the making of the essential oil will determine exactly how sweet the scent is. English lavender is sweeter, whereas Dutch lavender is sharper.
I probably don’t need to lecture you on the relaxing properties of lavender, as it’s so well known. But it’s wonderful on its own or in combination with other oils, and makes a great atmosphere for restful sleep.
Peppermint oil is one of those super distinctive and familiar fragrances that can almost be a bit nostalgic, especially if you celebrate Christmas (or, y’know, brush your teeth).
This oil is refreshing and cooling, and this helps to relax feelings of anxiety. It’s also supposed to be good for increasing brain function and alertness, which might sound counterintuitive when thinking about how an anxiety attack feels. However, focus and clarity can help override those anxious feelings, and this is why sharper herbal scents (like Thyme, further on) make good oils to use in these cases.
I honestly had no idea before researching for this post that the bergamot orange is actually green and yellow! I don’t know why the scent makes me think of warmer colours.
Bergamot is a bit of a flowery citrus scent, and has long been enjoyed for its fragrance. Luckily, it also is well known as a calming and relaxing scent. You might know it from Earl Grey tea, where it is frequently added for just those properties.
Unfortunately, bergamot is one of those essential oils that is difficult to produce, and therefore difficult to find pure. A lot of the essential oils out there are cut with other oils, or are a composite of a few different things to emulate the scent. It’s important to always read your labels (I feel like I should get this printed on a t-shirt already)!
Thyme has been used for a long time for general “good vibes”. The Greeks burned it in temples and the Romans used it for purification. The essential oil is a really excellent natural antiseptic, and has a bunch of topical uses.
As for its aromatherapy uses, oil of thyme really enhances mental focus. This is why I feel that it has a purpose in helping with anxiety – it encourages clarity, which is the precise opposite of the nervous energy that anxiety gives you.
Even though we’re just looking at essential oils for aromatherapy purposes, it’s important to note that caution should be used with essential oils and children, or anyone who is pregnant or nursing – many essential oils need to be avoided in this case. Make sure to read labels thoroughly, do your research, and consult with a health care practitioner if necessary!