Managing Anxiety with Essential Oils

posted in: Herbalism | 5

Managing anxiety with essential oils has been life-changing for me. I try to keep stress at bay by staying organized, being mindful, and reading uplifting material – and that helps a lot. Maintaining wellness is helpful and I won't discount that. But sometimes it still gets the best of me.

I've struggled with anxiety and depression for basically my entire life. I have to be very intentional with the way I take care of myself, what I expose my mind to, and the way I react to stressful situations to keep it in check. I fail often… but I'm getting better and learning more as the years go by.

One of the quickest ways I have learned to ease my anxiety is to use essential oils. Certain oils invoke a nearly immediate sense of calm that is much appreciated when I start to get overwhelmed.

Here's what I've learned about using essential oils for anxiety…

How They Work

As you may know, there are natural liquids found in all plants. Essential oils are highly concentrated liquid compounds that are made by distilling certain plants or plant parts. Most essential oils come from plants, especially herbs, that have therapeutic properties – they are the most concentrated and powerful way to get the benefits of any particular plant – much, much more powerful than extracts and infusions. They should be treated with respect in care, no matter how you use them. has a really great explanation of how essential oils are made and how they work:

Essential oils are distilled by putting plant material into a large stainless steel cylinder where steam “runs up” from the bottom. This steam picks up the oil sacs from the plants and takes them out through the top of the distiller. The steam is then cooled back into water. The oil floats to the top and is removed.

Using essential oils made from plants with calming properties is an incredibly effective way to relieve anxiety. There are several ways to do so.


Inhalation – It might seem a little far-fetched that simply smelling a particular scent can be therapeutic, but when you smell an essential oil, you're actually inhaling the aromatic compounds through your nose. You can do this by just holding an open bottle next to your nose and inhaling gently, or by using a diffuser.

I like to make aromatherapy “sprays” by adding 3 drops of essential oil to a 2 oz spray bottle of water and spraying it around the room and sometimes on my skin. The liquids do separate, so you need to shake the bottle before spraying.

Aroma baths and aroma massage are two methods which use both inhalation and skin absorption to deliver the benefits of the oils. They are also very simple and quite safe since the oils are more diluted this way. An aroma bath is foolproof – simply add a few drops of essential oil to a hot bath.

You can make aroma massage oils by adding 2-3 drops of essential oil to an ounce of a carrier oil. Jojoba oil is a nice choice, as it's very readily absorbed by the skin. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or basically any other type of carrier oil you like putting on your skin. Obviously using this method is nice simply because getting a massage is relaxing on its own, too. 🙂

Essential Oils for Anxiety

There are several essential oils that work well to relieve anxiety. Those I use include:

Lavender – One of the most versatile essential oils, lavender has calming properties that are perfect for relieving stress and anxiety.
Ylang ylang – One of my favorite essential oils, this is another good choice. According to Herbal Academy of NE,

We find it’s best used sparingly or blended with other EOs because in excess its super-sweet floral notes can be a little heady (and cause headaches!). While not studied extensively yet, ylang-ylang has been found to have sedative effects, helping to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

Cedarwood – I haven't found many references to using cedarwood for anxiety, but it has worked very well for me. It is one of the more sedative oils, so I only use it at night.
Sweet orange – Sweet orange is very uplifting and promotes mental clarity and joy.
Clary sage – Well known for its anti-anxiety benefits and for promoting mental clarity, this is what I reach for when I'm at the point of extreme physical and mental overwhelm.

I'm incredibly grateful to be able to manage my anxiety without medication thanks to essential oils. I hope this information is helpful to others who deal with it, too. x


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Kylie Wiser is an herbalist specializing in skincare and women's health. She shares recipes and resources on Everblossom to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.

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