Aromatherapy for Stressful Times

If you are a mortal human being as I am, I am sure you are going through some kind of stress right now. We are so used to thinking about stress as an outside event that we are unaware that stress is also an inner issue. Outside stressors can cause us to worry, to become anxious, angry, unsatisfied, and powerless. But much of our stresses happen in our minds, in the way we perceive and interpret an event. We can’t control what is happening around us, but we can learn how to deal with the situation in a healthier manner. However, do not beat yourself up for not knowing. Earth is a big school, we are here to learn with life and sometimes it takes time. So be nice to yourself!

Normally, it takes up to six months or more for us to feel the physiological effects of stress such as hair falling, change in body weight, skin problems, gastritis, ulcer, and chronic pain. It is good to remember that we also have inner stress that we are not aware of. For example, the food we eat can take a toll on our digestive system, which is a stress for the body. Our conscious mind might not be aware of this kind of stress, but the subconscious mind is for sure.

A common thought is that physical exercises and eating healthy are enough to overcome stress, but this is not the whole truth. There are many ways that we can help ourselves to become more relaxed, centered, and grounded. One of the ways we can do it is by the usage of pure essential oils. According to Valerie G. Cooksley, R.N., “they [essential oils] have been considered among the most therapeutic and rejuvenating of all botanical extracts throughout the ages.” Essential oils are used to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. There is evidence that mankind has been using aromatic plants for more than 4,000 years. The current science is now confirming the essential oils have healing properties; they are absorbed through the skin and by the olfactory brain connection.

Our sense of smell is directly associated with our feelings and emotions as well as our memories. It is common to associate the memory of a place or a situation with its smell (e.g. it reminds me of grandma’s house). Although most of the time, we are not aware of how we use our olfactory system, it plays an essential role in our health, emotional, mental as well as spiritual balance.

I would like to share some essential oils that can be helpful when dealing with stressful times.

1- For general relaxation:atlas cedarwood, bay laurel, bergamot, clary sage,roman chamomile, geranium, juniper, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, neroli, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.

2- For anxiety and fear: atlas cedarwood, bay laurel, bergamot, clary sage, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, orange, patchouli, roman chamomile, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.

3- Help with concentration and mental exhaustion: basil, black pepper, eucalyptus, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, peppermint, pine, and rosemary. Besides helping with concentration, rosemary also increases memory.

4- Irritability: clary sage, geranium, lavender, mandarin, marjoram, roman chamomile, sandalwood, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.

5- Depression: roman chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lemongrass, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and all the citrus essential oils because they are uplifting. They are bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, neroli, petitgrain, sweet orange, and tangerine.

All these essential oils can be used alone or in combination. Your sense of smell is the best guide to make your own recipes. There are many ways you can make use of essential oils. The most common is to diffuse them. I suggest you buy a diffuser, which is not powered by heat. The essential oils are volatile and they evaporate very quickly when heated. Remember that some essential oils have disinfectant, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. They help to kill the airborne germs. They are basil, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, hyssop, pine, rosemary, and tea-tree.

Baths with essential oils can be extremely relaxing, especially if you add a relaxing song, turn the lights off and light some candles. If you don’t have time for that, a foot bath can be helpful while you meditate. Too busy? Foot baths can be done while you are checking your emails or social media. A cold or hot compress can be applied to tense muscles or for headaches. You can add any citrus essential oils to unscented hand soap, bath gel, or body lotion. They smell wonderful and are uplifting! If you are having a hard time falling asleep, diffusing lavender, or sandalwood, or both can be of great help. Or you can also add just one drop of lavender to each side of your pillow.

The following are some delightful recipes that you can try by yourself. Remember to use your sense of smell as your guide. Feel free to add or remove any essential oil.  Peppermint essential oil has alerting properties. You will not fall asleep with it. Peppermint is great to use while you are driving or during that meeting after lunch or even in the middle of the afternoon when you are tired because it makes you alert, but do not use it at bedtime. Don’t forget to follow the guideline before dealing with essential oils.


1 – When using pure essential oils, remember they are volatile and inflammable, thus they should be kept in amber, green, or cobalt glass bottles in a dry, cool, and ventilated place.

2 – Keep away from children, pets, and your eyes. The essential oils can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. It can be a skin irritant and harmful if they reach your eyes. Keep your hands away from your eyes, face, genitals, and mucous membranes when using pure essential oils. If you get some oil in your eye, do not pour water, it will spread the oil; wipe it with a cotton bud that has been moistened with olive or sweet almond oil.

3 – For external use only! The essential oils are made to use externally, except for the peppermint, which can be added one drop on a tablet of sugar for coughing. Only ingest it if recommended by an experienced health care professional. 

4 – Avoid essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy and use them with caution after this period because some essential oils have hormone properties, which can stimulate the uterus.

5 – Avoid using undiluted pure essential oils directly on your skin. Remember that they are very concentrated and some oils, like the citrus ones, can increase the skin sensitivity to the sun. The essential oils should be diluted in a proper vegetable oil such as sweet almond, grapeseed, jojoba, or apricot kernel. However, there are some essential oils that you can use “neat” (not diluted) directly on your kin. They are lavender, tea tree, sandalwood, patchouli, jasmine, and rose.


Foot Bath – Balancing

½ cup of Epson salt or sea salt or 1 tablespoon of honey

3 drops lavender essential oil

4 drops eucalyptus essential oil

4 drops rosemary essential oil

Add essential oils to the salt or honey and mix them very well.

Add the mixture to 2 gallons of hot water. Let your feet soak for 15-20 minutes.

Stress Reduction Massage Oil

½ oz vegetable oil (jojoba, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil)

14 drops lavender essential oil

7 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

5 drops frankincense essential oil

2 drops clary sage essential oil

Add the carrier (vegetable oil) and essential oils to a clean amber, green, or cobalt blue glass bottle. Shake it and apply it to the feet, hands, or back.

Aromatic Bath for Mild Depression

½ cup of Epson salt, sea salt or 2 tablespoons of honey

4 drops lavender essential oil

3 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

2 drops basil essential oil

2 drops geranium essential oil

2 drops grapefruit essential oil

Mix the essential oils with salt or honey and add them to the bathtub. Soak yourself for 20-30 minutes.

Body Lotion – Calming

8 oz. unscented cream or lotion (with no mineral oil or petroleum derivative)

25 drops lavender pure essential oil

12 drops of Roman chamomile (diluted)

Bath Gel – Uplifting

8 oz. unscented bath gel or liquid soap

20 drops sweet orange pure essential oil

12 drops tangerine pure essential oil

08 drops lemon pure essential oil

Tip: herbal tea can be also a smart option to deal with stress. It has a synergistic effect when coupled with essential oils. Try one or a combination of chamomile, lemongrass, passion fruit, and sweet fennel.


Cooksley, Valerie Gennari. Aromatherapy – Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal, 2002.

Dodt, Colleen K. The Essential Oils Book – Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body, 1996.

Worwood, Susan and Worwood, Valerie A., Essential Aromatherapy – a [pocket guide to essential oils & aromatherapy, 1995.

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