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Best Essential Oils for Stress

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Stress can be more than just a feeling of overwhelm, it can be a health hazard. In fact, over 40% of adults experience adverse health effects because of stress (WebMD, 2017). If you're breathing, you've been exposed to stress. No one is immune.

We know diet, rest, and exercise can help reduce our stress. Things like meditation, energy work, and massage therapy can help us, too. Did you know aromatherapy can also help with stress?

The aromatic influence of essential oils can have a profound effect on our emotions. The aromas stimulate the limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for mood and emotions. Studies suggest aromatherapy can reduce stress, reduce depression, and increase focus.

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With over 100 different essential oil options, many of which would be helpful with reducing stress, it could be difficult to discover which ones you like best. I have narrowed it down to my top 5 picks to get you started. You can experiment with these to see which ones you like best.

Best Essential Oils for Stress

Clary Sage | Now this may be an oil you have never heard of before, but once you use it, you'll become a fan very quickly. I remember when I first started using essential oils a fellow oiler shared her experience with this one saying she used it when she needed to be "Miss Nicey Pants". It's totally true. Diffuse Clary Sage and watch the tension drain from the room. I also love how it smells. It has a unique aroma compared to other essential oils. I think I can describe it as how it smells at the farm when you're walking through the tall grass. So basically prairie paradise.

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Lavender | It's one of the most popular essential oils in the world, and for good reason, too. The aromatic influence of Lavender is very calming and is often associated with bedtime. Mixing Lavender with Epsom salts makes for a very relaxing bath. You can also diffuse or make your own linen spray for your bedding. Lavender is great during the day, too. Add a drop to your body lotion or shampoo when you begin your day to enjoy a subtle hint of Lavender everywhere you go.

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Lemon | Lemon, and pretty much all citrus oils in general, is a proven mood booster. Diffuse Lemon for an instant burst of sunshine for your disposition. You can use Lemon topically, but use with caution by avoiding application to skin that would be exposed to sunlight.

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Roman Chamomile | This gentle essential oil is very calming and relaxing. It is also a favorite to have on hand in families with infants and young children. It can be diffused or worn topically. It's also soothing to the skin so could also be added to a lotion base or shampoos for a calming morning or evening routine.

roman chamomile essential oil

Ylang Ylang | This beautiful aroma can do so much for you. It can help neutralize negative energy, focus your thoughts, increase self esteem, dispel anger, and more. You can diffuse or even wear as a perfume or cologne. The floral notes are pleasant and comforting to all.

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How to Use

To experience the aromatic benefit of essential oils, you can inhale or apply topically to the skin.

Aromatic | Diffusers are one of the most popular options for enjoying the aromatic benefits of essential oils. If you don't have a diffuser yet, you can simply add a drop of your essential oil to the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, and gently cup over your nose and mouth to inhale. You can also inhale directly from the bottle. Adding a drop of your chosen oil to a cottonball and placing it in vents (even in the car) is helpful. If you have a hot/cold rice pack, add a couple drops of your chosen oil to the fabric before using.

Topical | These oils can also be applied to the skin. Popular places include the wrists, behind the ears, along the jawline, back of the neck, or over the heart. The oils can typically be reapplied every couple of hours. If you are applying frequently, have sensitive skin, or just want to get the most out of your oils, you'll want to be sure you are using a carrier oil. Carrier oils are vegetable oils like grapeseed, coconut, or extra virgin olive oil to dilute the oil, which will not decrease its effectiveness. Also be sure to check the label of your essential oil for any photo-sensitivity cautions. In that case, be sure to avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight.

Bonus Tip

You can use more than one essential oil at a time to find your perfect combination. Try mixing 2 or 3 of the above oils to create your own unique concoction. You could even make your own roller bottle with the oils of your choice topped off with a carrier. Perfect for on the go!

Which One is for You?

Feel free to experiment with the essential oils to see which one is your favorite. You can also try using them in multiple ways. For example, diffusing one day, applying to your wrists the next, and behind your ears after that. This way you'll be able to establish your personal stress relieving routine.


Do you already have a favorite oil regimen for handling stress? Please share in the comments below!


About the Author: Serena James is a holistic healer and the author of Vibe Higher. She offers a variety of energy healing services and workshops to help individuals experience a life of love, abundance, and wellness as they were meant to.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. Any action you take as a result of this information is self-prescribed and your right to do so.


Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states.

Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations.

Reduction of mental stress with lavender odorant.

The effects of stress on your body.

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