06 Feb 2023

What is the best essential oil for anxiety?

author Ashley Owen
Curious about using an essential oil for anxiety? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we discuss how essential oils can help with anxiety, which fragrances to pick, and the most effective ways to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Relaxation awaits…

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion characterised by feelings of unease, worry, fear and/or dread. It’s a natural response to stressful situations, such as taking an exam or going to the dentist. Almost every single person in the world will experience it at some point in their lives. In fact, most of us encounter anxiety more often than we would like!

Anxiety can present with a variety of different symptoms. These include physical reactions such as an elevated heart rate, sweating, fatigue, shaking, and shortness of breath. You may also experience psychological responses like difficulty concentrating, irritability, restlessness, and uncontrollable feelings of worry. Trouble sleeping is another common symptom. In extreme cases, anxiety can cause a panic attack.

It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about what’s to come, and in some situations, anxiety can actually help us. It triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response, putting us in a heightened state of alert. This enables you to detect and respond to threats more effectively. Anxiety may even act as a motivator in certain circumstances, boosting our physical and mental performance.(1)

However, when anxiety is constant or disproportionate to the situation, it’s not just unhelpful – it can be debilitating. For some people, it interferes in their daily life and prevents them from doing things they enjoy. It’s at this point that you might begin thinking about coping strategies, such as using an essential oil for anxiety.

Regardless of whether your anxiety is mild or severe, having effective ways to ease it is vital for our wellbeing. Here’s why.

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The importance of learning to cope with anxiety healthily

While a little anxiety may be useful, chronic, misplaced, or intense anxiety can damage both our mental and physical health.

For instance, when you’re stressed or anxious, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Research indicates that long-term exposure to cortisol can impair the immune system and increase the risk of weight gain.(2) Likewise, studies have linked anxiety disorders with a greater risk of high blood pressure, digestive conditions, and heart disease.(3)

When it comes to mental health, anxiety can lead to difficulties at work because it makes it harder to focus. It may also have a detrimental impact on your social life.

People sometimes turn to substances such as alcohol to help them cope with anxiety. However, although this may provide some short-term relief, in the long run it is likely to make the situation worse. Instead, it’s better to build positive lifestyle changes as a healthy way to ease stress.

We’ve detailed a selection of helpful ideas to alleviate feelings of worry at the end of this post. However, first let’s look at using an essential oil for anxiety.

organic lemon essential oil

An overview of essential oils

We’ve got a more in-depth article about what essential oils are, but let’s go through a quick refresher for ease. Simply put, they’re highly concentrated extracts that capture the ‘essence’ of a particular plant. That includes its unique flavour and fragrance. You can make them from all different parts of a plant, and use them in a multitude of ways.

Every essential oil has its own potential benefits to offer, depending on the effect they have on our bodies and minds. You can use an essential oil to help you focus. You can use an essential oil to help you feel more refreshed and energised. And you can use an essential oil for anxiety. It’s this final benefit that we’re going to explore in more detail here.

How can essential oils help with anxiety?

So, how does using an essential oil for anxiety work? You probably already know that scent has a potent influence on our brains. Specific smells might trigger a vivid childhood memory, or evoke a certain emotion in you. Interestingly, they can also cause physiological changes in the body.

In terms of easing anxiety, science suggests aromatherapy may assist in several ways. Studies have found that inhaling calming essential oils could lower your blood pressure, slow down your heart rate, and improve the quality of your sleep.(4) They can have a relaxing effect on the nervous system and reduce levels of cortisol in the body. All of which may alleviate feelings of nervousness, worry and dread, enabling you to get on with your day.

It's also possible to use aromatherapy to help with other issues associated with anxiety. For example, if you suffer from stress-related migraines, you might like to know what essential oil is good for headaches. Research has found that rosemary, peppermint, chamomile, and lavender can all work to ease migraines.(5)

The best part is that using an essential oil for anxiety doesn’t have the same risk of side effects as some pharmaceutical drugs do. Likewise, you don’t need to worry about becoming dependent on them.

Aromatherapy may provide both immediate stress relief and long-term benefits. For instance, inhaling essential oil blends for anxiety and panic attacks could help ease symptoms as you’re experiencing them. Meanwhile, using an essential oil for anxiety as part of your daily routine can reduce your overall stress levels. We’ve got some suggestions for how to do this below, but before that, let’s investigate which fragrance to choose.

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