This post is contributed by our friend Monica with Essential Oil Experts
Taking time to schedule relaxation is an important part in our increasingly busy society. Between work, family and friends it can seem as if there is barely any time left for ourselves to relax and unwind.
While many of us are familiar with the psychological benefits of relaxation, there are many physical benefits as well. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing with aromatherapy may help improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce levels of stress hormones, improve mood and potentially increase blood flow.2
When we stay stressed for long periods of time, our natural stress response can be to become overworked and ineffective. Stress hormone levels can stay elevated and can cause a disruption in other important body functions. This can increase the risk of anxiety, sleep issues, impaired concentration, headaches, and depression over time.3
Increasing research shows that certain essential oils can promote relaxation, improve mood, or activate the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine.1
Thanks to their effectiveness, essential oils are quickly becoming one of the most common forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) used to manage stress today.
Here are our 5 favorite essential oils to help unwind and release unwanted stress.
1—Chamomile For Overall Relaxation
Famous for its calming properties, chamomile is a popular ingredient in teas and natural sleep remedies. The use of chamomile as a medicinal herb dates back hundreds of years, where it was traditionally used as a natural sleep inducer.4
Chamomile essential oil has been examined for its calming effects, particularly in users that are feeling stressed. Inhalation has been noted to decrease stress in clinical trials.4,5
For those suffering from those end of the day headaches, chamomile essential oil may help naturally reduce symptoms and promote relaxation.4,5
To help relax at the end of day, add 2-4 drops of chamomile essential to a diffuser filled with water. For migraine relief, add the same amount to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil or moisturizer. Gently rub the blend onto temples.
2―Bergamot For Mental Fatigue
Bergamot is a pear-shaped fruit that’s a part of the citrus family. Like other citrus essential oils, bergamot is frequently used by aromatherapists for its uplifting aroma.6
Humans become stressed for a number of reasons, but an increasingly common concern is mental health. In clinical trials, bergamot essential oil has been noted for its anti-anxiety and stress-reducing properties. When compared against a control, inhalation of bergamot essential oil reduced cortisol (a stress hormone) levels and overall heart rate.6
In various studies, bergamot essential oil has demonstrated benefits such as reduced feelings of stress. One study noted that after only 15 minutes of exposure, bergamot essential oil was shown to improve overall mood in participants who were sitting in a hospital waiting room.7
For those days where your mind feels strained or exhausted, bergamot essential oil is a great option to help reduce mental fatigue and re-charge. Simply add 2-4 drops of bergamot essential oil into a diffuser filled with water and let the aroma fill the space. For an even quicker solution, you can directly inhale the aroma from the bottle.
3—Rose For Soothing Relief
Used for centuries for its rich, calming aroma, rose essential oil remains one of the most popular essential oils today. In recent years, rose essential oil has been studied for its calming and sedative properties. One study reported increased feelings of relaxation after applying a massage oil infused with rose essential oil directly onto the skin.8
As an added bonus, rose essential oil has been also been shown to contain antioxidant and potential anti-aging properties, which when applied to the skin, may help fight potentially damaging environmental toxins.9
For soothing relief at the end of a long day, mix 2-4 drops of rose essential oil with 1 Tsp. of carrier oil or unscented moisturizer. Gently massage the blended oil into the face and neck and chest for a soothing nighttime moisturizer.
4—Sandalwood For Unwinding Before Bed
Used for hundreds of years, sandalwood essential oil is a versatile oil that may encourage relaxation. Historically used in soaps and cosmetics, new research has shown that sandalwood essential oil’s earthy aroma has potent properties that may help promote sleep.10,11
To help unwind at the end of a long day, you can create an easy sandalwood massage oil for tired or sore feet. Simply add 2-3 drops to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil and gently massage the blend onto feet or additional sore muscles.
5—Neroli For Calming Nerves
Also known as sour or bitter orange, neroli essential oil has been used as a traditional medicine to help promote sleep and calm users.
In preliminary studies, inhalation of neroli essential oil has demonstrated calming and pain-reducing effects.12 These qualities may help users de-stress and unwind from a busy day.
For users who may be nervous about an upcoming presentation or meeting, diffusing neroli essential oil the night before may help promote relaxation and naturally calm nerves. Add 3-4 drops of neroli essential oil to a diffuser filled with water and let the aroma fill the room. For simple overnight relief, add 1-2 drops of neroli essential to the corner of your pillow. Use sparingly as essential oils are highly concentrated and too strong of an aroma may actually keep you up.
As we all experience stress differently, it may take a few tries to find the perfect essential oil for you. While there are many calming essential oils, you can use specific ones to help you combat distinct symptoms of stress. You can also combine aromatherapy with other stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, massage or tai chi for added relaxation.
About the Author
Monica is a contributing Expert for the Essential Oils Experts of North America. An avid researcher with professional laboratory experience, she frequently conducts and publishes research on the essential oil industry, including product trends and popularity. More of Monica’s work can be found on essentialoilexperts.com
What essential oils do you use to relax? Let us know in the comments below!
- Kyle, Gaye. “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Levels of Anxiety in Palliative Care Patients: Results of a Pilot Study” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 12.2 (2006): 148-55. Web.
- Relaxation Techniques: Try These Steps to Reduce Stress” Mayo Clinic, 19 Apr. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress- management/in-depth/relaxation- technique/art- 20045368.
- “Chronic Stress Puts Your Health at Risk” Mayo Clinic, 21 Apr. 2016, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress- management/in-depth/stress/art- 20046037.
- Srivastava, Janmejai K, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past with Bright Future.” Molecular medicine reports 3.6 (2010): 895–901. PMC. Web. 24 July 2017.
- MOSS, M., et al. “Expectancy and the aroma of Roman chamomile influence mood and cognition in healthy volunteers” International Journal of Aromatherapy, vol. 16, no. 2, 2006, pp. 63-73.
- Watanabe, Eri, et al. “Effects of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) Essential Oil Aromatherapy on Mood States, Parasympathetic Nervous System Activity, and Salivary Cortisol Levels in 41 Healthy Females” Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1, 2015, pp. 43-49.
- Han, Xuesheng, et al. “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 31, no. 5, 2017, pp. 812-816.
- Fukada, Mika, Eri Kano, Michio Miyoshi, Ryoichi Komaki, and Tatsuo Watanabe. “Effect of Rose Essential Oil Inhalation on Stress-Induced Skin-Barrier Disruption in Rats and Humans” Chemical Senses 37.4 (2012): 347-56. Web.
- Boskabady, Mohammad Hossein et al. “Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena.” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences 14.4 (2011): 295–307. Print.
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Sandalwood” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 May 2014, www.britannica.com/plant/sandalwood.
- Ohmori, A et al. “Effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats.” Nihon Shinkei Seishen Yakurigaku, 27.4 (2007):167-171. Web.
- Chen, Ying-Ju, Fuchou Cheng, Ying Shih, Tsong-Min Chang, Ming-Fu Wang, and Sen-Sen Lan. “Inhalation of Neroli Essential Oil and Its Anxiolytic Effects” Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 5.1 (2008): Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 2008, Vol.5(1). Web.