Stress is a common feeling that people feel on a daily basis. Whether it is due to family problems, issues at work, or feelings of inadequacy, stress doesn’t seem to go away, no matter what you do. The last thing you want is for stress hormones to build up in the body and make it impossible for you to relax. Fortunately, there are powerful essential oils that can positively affect the nervous system to reduce stress levels.
You can thank your olfactory nerve for your sense of smell. It begins in the nose and connects to the brain, sending signals instantaneously to many parts of the brain, including the limbic system and amygdala, both of which are responsible for mood, memory, and emotions. The systems assist in regulating autonomic nervous system functions like breathing, heart rate, or blood pressure. Additionally, they can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to help relax the body and mind. This is why certain scents can trigger feelings of relaxation, even after the scent is gone.
What Is Aromatherapy?
This alternative medicinal practice uses the power of scents from essential oils to balance the mind, body, and spirit. Essential oils are commonly added to diffusers so that their scent can fill the air that surrounds you. Alternatively, essential oils can be mixed with carrier oils and applied to acupressure points on the body. Some great essential oils for combatting stress include the following.
Bergamot Essential Oil:
This citrusy essential oil has been used in Italian folk medicine, but new research has focused on its ability to reduce tension and anxiety. In six clinical studies that took place from 2009-2015, five studies found that bergamot essential oil helped to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and chronic stress.
Lavender Essential Oil:
Lavender essential oil is commonly used because of the calming effects on the mind and body. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine monitored people who were exposed to a stressor prior to a memory task. The study found that people who inhaled lavender aroma prior to being exposed to the stressor performed better than those who inhaled a placebo. Lavender has been known to reduce anxiety levels, promote better sleep, and stimulate brain pathways.
Frankincense Essential Oil:
The woody scent of frankincense essential oil helps people unwind and reduce stress levels. While there is anecdotal evidence of frankincense helping to reduce stress levels, there is a lack of scientific support to back up these claims. It is thought that frankincense has a more notable effect when combined with other stress-reducing essential oils.
DIY Stress Reducing Solution
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops bergamot essential oil
- 10 drops frankincense essential oil
- 10 drops myrrh essential oil
- Add all of the oils to a dark-colored glass bottle, screw on the top, and shake well to combine.
- If you use a diffuser, add 5-6 drops of this solution to the water. This will be enough for the scent to permeate the room.
- If you’d like to take a stress-reducing bath, add 10-15 drops of the solution to a warm bath, along with 1 cup of Epsom salt. Mix well and enjoy your bath.