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Top 5 essential oils for stress relief and how to use them

Essential oils are extracted from the petals, leaves, bark and roots of plants, and offer a natural remedy for feelings of stress. This can be beneficial if you feel stressed regularly and don’t want to rely on medication, or if you want short term relief for situations like an exam or job interview.

There are many essential oils that can help relieve the feelings of stress, with each one targeting a different stress trigger. The choice can be overwhelming, so here are 5 of the best essential oils for stress:

Lavender Oil

Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils. It has a diverse range of benefits, including promoting calmness and relaxation. It can help restore your nervous system and helps with inner peace, sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach and general nervous tension.

As a stress reliever, it is one of the most calming oils to use.

Rose Oil

Rose essential oil has an unmistakable scent and comes a close second to lavender in terms of being used for stress relief. It is used by many to relieve anxiety, depression, panic attacks, grieving and shock. It is an uplifting essential oil, which boosts mental strength and make you feel more confident.1

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile is a peaceful and calming scent that can help reduce overthinking, anxiety and worry. It is especially good at relieving stress and tension and promoting a good night’s sleep.

Frankincense Oil

With its exotic scent, Frankincense encourages feelings of inner peace by promoting calmness and relaxation. It helps to reduce feelings of stress and its associated symptoms, such as headaches and shallow, quick breathing.

Vanilla Oil

Take a trip down memory lane as you inhale vanilla essential oil. It’ll soothe your mind and help you think more clearly. It’s a natural sedative, antidepressant and lifts your mood2. For many people, the aroma reminds them of eating ice cream as a child. Shop Essential Oils

Here’s how essential oils relieve stress

Essential oils contain tiny molecules that are absorbed quickly by the body. This quick absorption means you can feel the benefits of the oil within 20 minutes.


Inhaling the aromas of essential oils stimulates the olfactory nerves within your nose. These nerves then communicate with the limbic system within your brain.

The limbic system, often known as your “emotional brain”, is directly connected to other parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance.

This is why our sense of smell is so closely linked to our emotional responses and mood, and why certain smells remind us of past experiences.

Through the skin

Essential oils can also be applied to the skin, either within a cream or a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or olive oil. The small molecules of the oil quickly diffuse into the bloodstream and are carried throughout the body, relieving muscle tension and general aches and pains caused by stress.

Remember: not all essential oils can be applied directly to the skin; they must be mixed with a carrier oil first to dilute them. This also makes it easier for the skin to absorb them. Always carry out a patch test first with any new oil you try.

Handpicked article: 10 ways to combat stress

Try it for yourself

Here are a few easy ways you can get the calming benefits of your favourite essential oil:

  • Add a few drops to a tissue and inhale the aroma for quick, calming relief
  • Mix with water in a spray bottle for a calming spritz (try spraying a scarf and carrying it with you throughout the day)
  • Add a few drops to your bath for a warm, relaxing soak
  • Sprinkle a bit onto your pillow for a restful night’s sleep
  • Use a diffuser for long-lasting calmness around your home
  • Mix with a carrier oil or unscented body lotion to massage away tense muscles

Wondering which essential oil is right for you? Pick the one you like the smell of most - this is your body’s way of telling you that it’s the right one for you!

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