5 Best Essential Oils For Anxiety

Let aromatherapy ease your stress, naturally.

May 15, 2017
essential oils

Did someone reheat Indian food in the office microwave…two floors down? Your amped-up smelling ability doesn’t mean you’re turning into a superhero—it could be stress. According to a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, people with anxiety can experience a heightened sense of smell, able to sniff out things that calmer folks might miss.

It turns out that when we feel anxious, our body naturally goes into survival mode, heightening our ability to identify threats, and the nose often takes the lead. As anxiety levels rise, so does our ability to correctly sniff out a strong or unusual stench. In other words, if you think you smell smoke coming from the kitchen or are convinced your poodle Patches had an accident somewhere in the house, it could be a sign you're more stressed than usual. The upside? You can use this anxiety-heightened sniffing ability to tackle the annoying side effects of stress, such as indigestion and insomnia with aromatherapy, the practice of using essential oils—concentrated from flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, and roots—to ease stress. 

Here are five simple ways to sniff your way out of stressful situations with essential oils, from Hope Gillerman, aromatic healer and creator of H. Gillerman Organics.

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For Constant Worrying

Essential Oil: Sandalwood

Dab a few drops on your chest and then practice a simple mindfulness exercise: Close your eyes, sit up straight, and rest your hands on your lap. Breathe slowly and count your inhales—inhale one, inhale two, inhale three, inhale four, etc. When you lose count, start back at one and keep counting until you feel your tension ease.

Buy now: Aura Cacia Sandalwood in Jojoba Oil ($10; Amazon.com)

For Light-Headedness Or Depression

Essential Oil: Peppermint 

Place two drops along the back of your neck or on the crown of your head. Then then take 10 to 15 deep breaths with the bottle of oil under your nose—you will feel a noticeable tingling sensation.

Buy now: Aetos Organic Peppermint Essential Oil ($15; Amazon.com)

For Acid Reflux, Headaches, Or Indigestion

Essential Oil: Sweet Marjoram 

After a warm shower, put three drops in the palm of both hands, and add a tablespoon of unscented body oil or lotion. Rub your palms together and spread the blend on your abdomen and chest in circular, clockwise motions.

Buy now: Aura Cacia Organic Sweet Majoram Essential Oil ($14; Amazon.com)

Svetlana Lukienko/Shutterstock
For Sleeplessness

Essential Oil: Clary Sage

Before you head to bed, take a hot bath with several drops of clary sage in the water. Once in bed, place three drops on a tissue, turn off the lights, and take 10 to 15 deep breaths through the tissue. Keep the tissue on your nightstand while you sleep.

Buy now: Aura Cacia Organic Clary Sage Essential Oil ($16; Amazon.com)

Bozhena Melnyk/Shutterstock
For A Panic Attack

Essential Oil: German Chamomile

Put a drop of oil in the palm of each hand, and cup your hands over your face. Start to slow your breathing by silently counting your exhales in your head. The oil combined with the mindful breathing will leave you feeling much calmer. 

Buy now: Aura Cacia German Chamomile Essential Oil ($10; Amazon.com)

Related: Your Herbal Cure For Cramps