For those of us suffering stress and anxiety, especially if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety order, any natural resources that can help are welcomed.
After my stress & anxiety worsened into severe panic attacks, I knew I had to finally do something about it. I’d gone from using coping mechanisms most of my life to not being able to function. I was always wary of any medical intervention, especially anxiety medication, however I am lucky to have an excellent family doctor. She saw me through my worst weeks and allowed me to come to terms with medication in my own time. She also put me on a mental health plan, which meant I could have subsidised therapy.
I realised I had to tackle the issue holistically, so included in my health toolbox I have meditation, living in the moment, gratitude practices and attempt to eat clean and healthy (not always achieved). I have spent a lot of time working on my gut environment, building up the good bacteria as we now know that the gut is a 2nd brain that communicates constantly with our brain. A healthy gut goes a long way to helping you have a healthy brain.
I’ve always loved crystals but my new love affair is with essential oils. I avoid the synthetic ones, pure is best. Smells absolutely invoke memories and feelings. A good essential oil will not only have your house smelling divine but will improve your mood and soothe your mind. Even if you don’t suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder our fast paced lives & the reliance on technology has lead to a rise in stress-related health issues, negatively impacting both our mental and physical health.
Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times to achieve feelings of calm and relaxation. Inhaling and topically applying pure essential oils can help to alleviate stress, insomnia or depression. Just take care when applying pure essential oils topically. They should NEVER be used undiluted on your skin. They need to be combined with a good carrier oil (such as grapeseed oil). Never ingest essential oils without consultation with a health professional. Aromatherapy works by stimulating areas of the brain that are responsible for our emotions. Combined with practicing mindfulness, essential oils can effectively help to release negative emotions, calm the mind and reduce stress.
Here are 8 of the best essential oils for stress and anxiety below.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
One of my favourites and the most common essential oils for relaxation is Lavender. Lavender essential oil is an obligatory part of your essential oil tool box, if you regularly experience stress and anxiety. It has been proven to restore the nervous system by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. It can help to calm the nerves, appease restlessness and improve sleep quality. Use a lavender rollerball to apply to your temples and wrists, or combine with a carrier for a relaxing massage oil. (When diluting essential oils with a carrier oil, it’s important to follow these dilution guidelines. For adults: 2.5 percent dilution: 15 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil. 3 percent dilution: 20 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil.)
2. Rose Essential Oil
Rose essential oil is extracted from rose petals and its scent is renowned for soothing emotions, headaches and balancing hormones. Rose is known for strengthening the heart in periods of high stress, grief, and depression. Use in a warm bath or apply directly on the skin to help with mood swings, hormones and emotions.
3. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Extracted from the Indonesian Cananga tree, Ylang Ylang essential oil promotes feelings of comfort and joy. It simultaneously reduces heart rate, improves your mood and promotes relaxation. Inhaling Ylang Ylang can help release negative emotions, reducing stress and acting as a natural anxiety and depression remedy.
4. Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil is produced from the peel of the aromatic citrus fruit. It is often used in traditional Chinese medicine to enhance the flow of energy, fight bacterial infections and support digestive health. It is an effective antidepressant due to its mood enhancing qualities, promoting feelings of joy, freshness and energy. Bergamot essential oil improves blood circulation, stimulates hormonal secretions and digestive health, bringing balance to the body.
5. Chamomile Essential Oil
If you love chamomile tea, you will appreciate the calming effects of chamomile essential oil. Chamomile promotes inner calm, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system. It can also be used to reduce inflammation of the digestive tract, regulating mood and stress levels. For stress relief, combine chamomile essential oil with a carrier oil, and apply to the solar plexus and belly button.
6. Jasmine Essential Oil
Jasmine essential oil is widely used in parts of Asia as a natural remedy for anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression. In China, Jasmine has been traditionally used to detox and clear the respiratory system. It acts as a natural sedative as well as having stimulating effects on the brain improving mood and energy levels. Apply directly to your wrists or neck to promote relaxation or add a few drops to a hot bath.
7. Clary Sage Essential Oil
With a beautiful earthy smell, Clary Sage is effective in calming stress and anxiety. The oil acts as an antidepressant by promoting feelings of wellbeing and inner peace. Clary Sage is also known to act as a great hormone balancer and help reduce symptoms of PMS. Apply directly to feet or pulse points to help balance hormones. Alternatively combine with a few drops of chamomile to enjoy in a hot bath.
8. Basil Essential Oil
One of the lesser known essential oils, Basil is one of the best essential oils to reduce anxiety and enhance mood. Considered the queen of herbs in India, it is revered and treated as sacred due to its highly beneficial properties. Basil essential oil has a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing anxiety, fatigue, mental strain and depression. It also acts as a natural stimulant, promoting peace and clarity of mind. Add a few drops to your diffuser and enjoy the soothing and relaxing aroma.
It should be noted that pure essential oils are a highly concentrated and medicinal substance, so some safety precautions need to be observed. For a healthy adult, most essential oils are safe to use within an appropriate dosage (as indicated above). However, when using essential oils for babies, children, during pregnancy, for the elderly or for those with a serious illness it is necessary to do some research, to ensure that you use oils that are suitable and that you use the correct dose. As a general guide,
- The gentlest essential oils include Lavender, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Neroli and citrus essential oils such as Orange, Lemon, Lime, Bergamot and Mandarin.
- Citrus essential oils can produce an effect on the skin called phototoxicity. Citrus oils applied to the skin and then exposed to direct sunlight causes the skin to be more prone to sunburn. To avoid this either use citrus essential oils at night or if you plan to stay inside for most of the day or use them in a diffuser/ inhalation.
- Essential oils applied to the skin need to be diluted with a carrier oil. When diluting essential oils with a carrier oil, it’s important to follow these dilution guidelines. For adults: 2.5 percent dilution: 15 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil. 3 percent dilution: 20 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil.