Beat Stress with These 7 Calming Scents

Benefits of aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a supportive treatment that is thought to help enhance well-being. By stimulating the smell receptors in the nose which then sends messages to the nervous system, we feel more energetic or less stressed, depending on the oils used.

Note: only buy pure grade essential oils from reputable dealers; especially since the FDA doesn’t regulate the sale of essential oils.

Topical use

Essential oils can be used in diffusers to release droplets into the air that are then breathed in, or they can be applied directly to the skin.

If you plan to apply an essential oil topically, it needs to be added to a carrier oil. Here are the ratios:

  • ⬥ Adults – 15 drops per 1 ounce of carrier oil such as sweet almond, olive or coconut oil)
  • ⬥ Children – 3 to 6 drops per 1 ounce of carrier oil (only use under a physician’s care – essential oils are powerful)

Note: NEVER ingest essential oil – some of them can be toxic

Essential oils for anxiety and stress

1. Valerian

Valerian is an herb. It’s been used for centuries as a way to promote sleep and reduce anxiety.

How to use: Add a few drops of the oil to a diffuser and inhale.

2. Jatamansi

In the same plant family as valerian, research on mice using jatamansi indicates it may relieve depression by decreasing GABA neurotransmitters and MAO receptors in the brain.

How to use: Massage it (using a carrier oil) into your forehead or temples.

3. Lavender

Recent research indicates that lavender helps to reduce anxiety by affecting the limbic system. This is the part of your brain that controls your emotions.

How to use: Add to your bath, using a few drops of lavender oil combined with a tsp of carrier oil or unscented bath gel. Add the mixture to your warm bathwater right before entering.

4. Jasmine

There’s no doubt, jasmine has an exquisite fragrance. However did you know that a 2013 study showed that it can invoke a sense of well-being and promote a sense of romance? Unlike other calming scents, it’s thought to enhance a feeling of calm without causing sleepiness.

How to use: Inhale straight from the bottle or use with a diffuser.

5. Sweet basil

Yes, this is the same herb that is used in culinary dishes. A study in 2015 on mice showed that it helps to relieve anxiety, without the sedative effects that can come from medication such as diazepam.

How to use: In a room diffuser or through an inhaler tube.

6. Chamomile

Most people have had chamomile tea, but did you know its well-known calming properties can be used externally?

How to use: Massage into your skin or add to a warm bath.

7. Rose

Rose essential oil not only smells heavenly, but it’s also been shown to relax your senses.

How to use: Add a few drops of oil to a foot bath or add to a non-scented moisturizer such as shea butter and massage into your skin.

Before use

Before using an essential oil – especially one that’s new to you – it’s important to test for an allergic reaction.

Do a skin patch test first. Apply a few drops of diluted essential oil on your elbow or wrist, then cover with a bandage. Check the area after 24 hours and look for a rash or redness. If you find skin irritation don’t use topically, however you may be able to benefit from using with a diffuser.

Note of caution

Not everyone can use essential oils. If you’re breastfeeding, pregnant or have an underlying medical condition it’s best to consult your doctor before using them.

As noted earlier, not all essential scents and oils are the same. Only use quality oils (yes, they will be pricey) for best results.

Finally, take time for yourself at this stressful time…limit your news exposure and take part in activities that you enjoy. And be sure to take advantage of the extra time you’re getting to spend with family and know that we’re in this together…we will get through this.