Essential Oils That Can Reduce Stress

If there is one thing we're all dealing with's stress! Over the past year or so I've turned to more natural methods of dealing with that stress and the anxiety it can bring. One of my favorite natural remedies is essential oils and since aromatherapy is know to impact mood, there are many essential oils that are great for dealing with stress. 

Candles and woman getting a face massage to reduce stress

Smell is intensely linked to both memory and emotion, perhaps more than any other sense. The perfume industry is practically based on this fact...not to mention the whole scented candle and air freshener industry! 

For instance, the majority of people have a positive reaction to the smell of vanilla and associate it with pleasant childhood memories. If you ask them, they can't exactly put a name to what they're feeling, but it's definitely a positive feeling.

Another association most people make is that lemon smells 'clean'. It's not that we actually associate a food with cleanliness, but rather that so many cleaning products use lemon in the scent that our mind instantly jumps to clean when we smell it. We've subconsciously conditioned our brains to think that way through repetition.

Essential oils can invoke the same types of reactions. These intense aromatic compounds are derived from plants and have the power to influence mood, memory, and emotion. In fact, essential oils can be very effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

How do Essential Oils Reduce Stress?

Stress is one of the hazards of modern life, and the last few years did nothing to reduce that for anyone! lol Unfortunately, stress has been linked to many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. 

An easy solution for easing chronic stress is aromatherapy using essential oils. They are effective for reducing stress and promoting sleep or relaxation because of the close connection between emotion and the sense of smell.

5 Essential Oils for Stress Relief

There are many ways to use essential oils. Some like to use a cold mist diffuser, which disperses the scent while purifying the air. Others benefit from rubbing them into their skin, especially at acupressure points, or wearing a necklace or bracelet diffuser. 

Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the scent and your other senses while using essential oils can help you reap the most benefits. Here are some of the best oils for stress relief.


This scent is the most widely researched and commonly used for relaxation, promoting sleep, and reducing stress. It has also been used to treat depression and anxiety. Some medical professionals even use lavender to reduce stress in doctor’s offices and before surgery.

The oil is also pleasantly calming, and can be used to reduce stress and soothe the mind. Many bedroom candles and sprays contain lavender as the aroma can help you drift off to sleep more easily.


A sweet, floral scent, rose has been popular throughout history, mainly used in perfumes and home scents. Recent studies have found that rose essential oil can be used to reduce anxiety, blood pressure, cortisol levels, stress, depression and even pain. 


This unique plant has a delicate scent and is found in tropical Asia, where it is used medicinally. Ylang-ylang has been found to reduce stress, heart rate and blood pressure and promote relaxation. Know to enhance calmness, this sweet, exotic, fruity-floral aroma is best know for it's use in perfume.


Perhaps best known for its contribution to Earl Grey tea, bergamot is a citrus fruit hybrid used in Italian folk medicine. Its unique scent has been shown to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and sleep, and relieve symptoms of chronic stress.

Bergamot should never be used without a carrier oil when used on the skin. It can be irritating to skin especially for those prone to dermatitis or who will be exposed to direct sunlight.


Stress can leave you feeling tired both mentally and physically. Peppermint oil can serve as a perfect pick-me-up and energy boost. The scent promotes alertness and improved cognitive function. Additionally, it has been found to relieve IBS symptoms and may be used in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

Vanilla absolute

Vanilla doesn't come in an essential oil because the beans cannot tolerate the process used to extract the oil. Instead, they do make vanilla absolute. For aromatherapy purposes, it's pretty much the same. Vanilla evokes a positive reaction which helps to reduce stress, anxiety and helps you to feel calmer. 

You can also buy vanilla fragrance oil, which for this purpose will still work to prompt that lowered stress reaction. If you look closely at products labeled vanilla oil they will have something like 'in fractionated coconut oil' on the label. I don't use these in my essential oil diffuser, but they work well mixed into lotions or in a wax warmer.

essential oils for stress in small amber glass bottle

How to use essential oils for stress

The easiest way to use essential oils for aromatherapy is to put them in a cold mist diffuser. This scents the air in a room, allowing the benefits of the Eos to be experienced by everyone in the room. Allow to diffuse for 10-15 minutes, then turn off the diffuser for about 30 minutes. Repeat the process if desired.

You can also use more personal methods like mixing your essential oils in to a lotion, body wash or hand scrub. Do not apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting them!

No time to mess with mixing anything? Simply drip your chosen essential oil onto a Kleenex and hold it next to your nose and inhale a few times.

Whether you opt to use essential oils in a diffuser, inhaler or on your skin, they can be the perfect relief after a long, stressful day. These aromatic compounds have been scientifically shown to be calming– plus, they’ll make your house smell great!

Related reading: How to get started with essential oils frugally.


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Research: Vanilla in the perfume industryWhy do we associate citrus scent with clean?

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