essential oil diffuserLet’s face it. Work can be stressful. When working at home, stress might diminish. You don’t have to worry about traffic driving to work or squabbles with other workers. Nevertheless, stress happens!!! In order to decrease work at home stress, I recommend using something natural. Essential oils definitely do the trick, being very beneficial for stress relief. So let's look at how/why they work and review 20 best essential oils I have used for stress relief.

Perhaps you have heard about essential oils previously. You may have run across articles about essential oils, especially if looking for natural remedies for stress or even pain relief. But you might not be exactly sure what they are. You might even wonder how they could possibly help you to decrease stress. To be sure, I am a firm believer in the use of essential oils for a variety of purposes. Without going into a long explanation, I have to avoid contact with as many chemicals as possible. Hard to do in this chemical-laden world, but that is another topic altogether. The point is, I use essential oils for many reasons around the house. For example, for dusting and cleaning counter tops, I use a filtered water and essential oil mix. Same for cleaning the bathroom.

OK, OK, what does this have to do with stress? Well, a number of essential oils have been found to reduce stress. How could that even be? Well, let’s take a look at what all this essential oil stuff is all about. First, let’s look at a brief summary of essential oils and how they are made. Finally, we will look at what they can do for YOU to reduce stress in your work at home job.

What is an essential oil?

Learning some basics of essential oils help you understand more about how they benefit you. Hopefully, this encourages you to use them more often as a natural remedy. Essential oils consist of oils extracted from parts of flowers, plants, and trees. Oils can come from many parts of the plant. The flower petals, bark, leaves, seeds, roots, and fruits all contain essential oils that can be extracted and used. Hard to believe, but even a tiny drop of oil from these parts of a plant or tree might have drastic positive impacts on mental and physical ailments.

Usually, essential oils are extracted by steaming the plant. This separates the oil from water, which is a type of distillation process. This distillation process results in highly concentrated oils. Indeed, almost all essential oils are too strong to be applied directly on your skin without diluting them with other oils.

Some essential oil benefits

Most people know that essential oils smell very good. Yummy, as a matter of fact. But, aside from making a room smell really good, essential oils are used as a natural or holistic remedy for a variety of ailments. While not meant to replace medical treatment, they can help complement and help with everything from migraines to skin conditions. Below is a short list of ailments that some studies have shown to benefit from the use of essential oils:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Chronic pain
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Cups, scrapes and burns
  • Signs of aging and wrinkles
  • Anxiety, stress, and depression

So, how can essential oils be used to help with anxiety or stress?

How aromatherapy/essential oils work

Aromatherapy is really all about olfaction – the scientific term for “smelling.” Our sense of smell is one of our primary senses and is a really powerful one at that. Back when I was a high school English teacher, I used to tell my students that time travel was possible and one of the most powerful time machines was our sense of smell.

Almost everyone can travel back in time when they smell something that reminds them powerfully of the past. For some of us, we travel back to childhood when we smell coffee. It reminds us of our kitchen every morning. As the coffee percolated, the rich aroma woke us up. Other smells might remind us of an event and take us back – cotton candy at the carnival, popcorn at the movie on our first date, a certain perfume.

The magic of the olfactory membrane

A powerful smell can be a reminder of something good and can provide a sense of calm and security. That is, simplistically how essential oils work. Let’s look at a little more scienc-y explanation. Odors wafting around a room are made of molecules – of all shapes and sizes. Molecules are chemical structures that are invisible to the eye, but very obvious to the nose. Once those chemicals go up the nose, they attach to receptors on the olfactory membrane. The olfactory membrane is tiny. Only about .8 inches square, but it contains 10-20 million olfactory receptors.

The receptors are shaped to “fit” a specific molecule. When that molecule finds the correct molecule, it zaps a signal directly to the brain. Almost instantaneously. The two parts of the brain receiving these signals are the limbic system and the cerebral cortex. The limbic system holds our instinctive behaviors – our automatic emotional responses. It is not under our conscious control but will cause an automatic reaction to stimuli. That is why smells often evoke a strong “yum” or “yuk” response.

On the other hand, the cerebral cortex is very complex.  Indeed, it is still partially a mystery to scientists. But, we do know that this part of our brain enables us to learn higher functions like language. It is our thinking, processing, remembering, creating brain. Olfactory stimulation is the ONLY type of sensory information that goes directly to the cerebral cortex without passing through thalamus.

What does all of that mean? Simply that smell is a powerful sense and has a rather direct connection to our emotional and our thinking brain. Essential oils with their powerful scents, then, go quickly to the brain to create a response. Certain smells have been found to affect the various parts of the brain.

Which essential oils to use

If you have looked at essential oils in the stores or online, you will find a wide variance and price. While you may be tempted to purchase less expensive oils, this is not necessarily a good idea. But what makes the difference? There are really four things you need to consider before purchasing essential oils.The first factor is whether the essential oil is synthetic or natural.  Without too much thought, you can probably figure out that you need to look for natural essential oils. These are derived from plants, as opposed to synthetic oils which are chemicals that mimic the characteristics of natural essential oils. Once you have worked with essential oils for a while, a sniff test will probably inform you when the oils are synthetic.

The next consideration is natural vs. 100% pure essential oils. While an essential oil may be labeled as natural, look carefully at the label to determine whether it contains diluting oils, alcohols or fillers. Additives can reduce the benefits of essential oils and some fillers can be detrimental to your body. So, even though 100% pure essential oils may be more expensive, they are much more beneficial to you than diluted oils. Again, after some experience with essential oils, a sniff test can identify the diluted oils. Nevertheless, always check to label to ensure you are getting 100% pure essential oils.

Therapeutic grade essential oils

Next, you want to see if the essential oils are therapeutic grade essential oils. Lower grade natural oils may be derived from plants grown commercially rather than plants grown in their natural habitat.   These oils may be distilled from plants that were exposed to pesticides or other chemicals. They may cost less, but probably won't give you the full therapeutic benefit you expect. On the other hand, therapeutic grade essential oils have an entirely different standard for purity and potency.  The therapeutic standard requires precise care and effort to protect nature's creation.

Thus, the therapeutic oil correlates directly with the health-enhancing benefits you seek.  Sourced from their own natural habitat, they are not contaminated from polluted soil or pesticides.  In addition, therapeutic oils do not contain fillers or artificial ingredients. Currently, companies producing high grade therapeutic essential oils have very strict quality control.  While more expensive, you will find that less of the therapeutic oil is required to garner positive benefits.

The final consideration is organic vs. non-organic essential oils. For organic essential oils, the plants used to produce these oils are grown in soil free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicide residues. In my opinion, if you can get the essential oil in organic form, it will be better. However, this is not always possible.  Therefore, look for all essential oils from companies who are highly rated for providing the best quality therapeutic grade essential oils.

How do you use essential oils?

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. They can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied topically. Add a few drops of an essential oil to other oils such as jojoba or coconut oil and massaged into your skin. The oils are absorbed through the skin as your body rapidly benefits from the effect. Another way to use essential oils is to add them to water and spritz on furniture, pillows, in the air, etc. Remember, the scent molecules will go directly to the brain.

But, probably the most common way to use them is by adding a few drops to a diffuser filled with water. The diffuser then spreads the essential oil molecules through the air in a mist. Just smelling the lovely aroma of lavender and patchouli oil in the air relaxes me and brings a sense of peace.

The beauty of essential oils is that they can be combined for added benefit. You can use one essential oil – such as lavender to reduce stress or combine it with others. Chamomile oil can be added for its calming benefits as well. You can also make blends for a different scent and to help with more ailments at one time.

Essential oil diffusers to reduce stress

As you can see from the information above, many ways to use essential oils are available. But, if you are just getting started in learning about essential oils, I highly recommend starting with a diffuser in your home office. You may like it so much that you begin using them in other locations in your home. Many options for essential oil diffusers are available. They basically all work the same. Take off top, pour water into reservoir, add a few drops of essential oil, put top back on, turn on, sit back and relax.

A cool mist disperses the wonderful essential oil fragrance throughout your room. Most diffusers last for hours and provide a much healthier fragrance to your room than chemical-laden air fresheners on the market.

Top 20 essential oils for reducing stress:

  • Bergamot – relaxing, restorative, calming
  • Black pepper – reduces fear; reduces fatigue and low energy
  • Chamomile (Roman)  – calms feelings of anger and frustration
  • Cypress – calms when feeling overwhelmed
  • Eucalyptus – soothes exhaustion, uplifting
  • Frankincense – quiets the mind, support tranquility
  • Ginger – combats burnout on any level
  • Helichrysum – emotionally balancing
  • Juniper Berry – releases worry and negative thinking
  • Lavender – calms, soothes, nurtures
  • Melissa – calms and cools agitated emotions
  • Myrrh – brings inner stillness and sense of peace
  • Neroli – relaxes the nerves, facilitates spiritual and creative work
  • Orange – soothes the perfectionist who can’t tolerate mistakes
  • Patchouli – balances an overactive mind
  • Ravintsara – soothes anxiety and stress
  • Sandalwood – quiets mental activity, reduces irritation
  • Sweet Basil – emotionally uplifting
  • Tea Tree – builds confidence and strength
  • Ylang Ylang – relaxes, encourages feelings of euphoria

4 stress busting blends

Try adding some of the following blends to the water in your aromatherapy diffuser or full strength in your glass diffuser.

This blend quiets mental activity, reduces irritation with Sandalwood, and further creates a feeling of calming and nurturing with Lavender. The Neroli oil facilitates spiritual and creative work while the and Roman Chamomile calms by reducing anger and frustration.  Overall, the blend will reduce stress on a challenging day.

  • 5 drops Sandalwood
  • 2 drops Lavender
  • 1 drop Neroli
  • 1 drop Roman Chamomile

The following blend is quite pleasant. In my opinion, Ylang Ylang oil is one of the more exotic oils that relaxes and can even create a feeling of euphoria.  Definitely a good state to be in during a stressful work day. The Lavender and Neroli further enhance your calm.

  • 6 drops Ylang Ylang
  • 2 drops Lavender
  • 1 drop Neroli

Patchouli oil has a bit of a woodsy scent. This alone calms my nerves, definitely evoking the peace I feel when walking in the woods.  I like adding Orange essential oil to this blend because it is particularly calming for perfectionists.  The Myrrh further calms the inner spirit. What a great blend for an afternoon on a particularly trying day.

  • 5 drops Patchouli
  • 3 drops Orange
  • 2 drops Myrrh

The next blend is a bit different. The Roman Chamomile is always great for calming feelings of anger and frustration. Who hasn't experienced this in your home office? The Cypress also calms when you feel overwhelmed.  In addition, the Black Pepper reduces fatigue and low energy.  Let's face it, stress causes fatigue – can simply drain you.  This is a great blend during a long day at work.

  • 4 drops Roman Chamomile
  • 3 drops Cypress
  • 3 drops Black Pepper

Create your own blends

The above blends are not the only ones you can use – by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, use your imagination and essential oil descriptions to come up with your own favorite stress-busting blend. Then share them with everyone. I have definite preferences – smells that really have an impact on my stress.  But, I am always open to experiment. And I don't remember a time that a blend caused any negative feelings.  So experiment!!! The more you experiment, the more you will find combinations that you really like.

Consider these essential oil safety precautions

Essential oils are generally considered safe. However, there are some things to keep in mind when working with these oils.  Using these precautions while working with different oils will ensure a positive and healthy experience. Essential oils are well-known for their immune-supporting and emotion-balancing characteristics. But, they are potent and should be used carefully. In order to ensure the safe use of these oils, please consider the following safety precautions:

  • The following essential oils should not be used with anyone vulnerable to epileptic seizures: Camphor, Fennel, Hyssop, Rosemary, Lavandin, Sage, Spike Lavender, and Thuja.
  • Use very cautiously during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. During these times, use only under the guidance of an aromatherapist or medical professional knowledgeable in the use of essential oils.
  • Use stimulating essential oils cautiously for those with high blood pressure. Some of these oils include camphor, hyssop, rosemary, ad spike lavender.
  • Dilute essential oils with a carrier before applying to the skin. You can use a total of 5-18 drops of essential oils to one ounce of carrier oils.
  • For children and the elderly or those with serious health conditions, use a dilution of 5-6 drops of essential oils to one ounce of carrier oil.
  • Generally, citrus essential oils are photosensitizing. Avoid sunlight or tanning beds for at least 12 hours after applying.
  • Do not put essential oils in or around the eyes or other orifices.
  • Those with allergies to perfumes should proceed cautiously with essential oil.
  • Never use essential oils internally without the guidance of a medical professional.

Essential oils – a great alternative health option

You will likely see more and more information available about essential oils as natural health alternatives. They provide many benefits with few side effects.  Because I think they provide a significant alternative to conventional treatment for stress, I will be writing more about essential oils in this blog. Make sure that you sign up for our newsletter so that you do not miss any updates on essential oils.

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Stress Busting Essential Oils