There seems to be nothing better than getting home after a busy day, taking your pants off, and snuggling under a warm blanket as you sip tea and begin the decompression process, right? But why is it as soon as you slip into a sense of ease, the anxiety from the day creeps back in? It’s normal for anxiety to peek in the evenings because your body finally has time to rest, no longer thinking about work and the other major concerns of the day. As the mind becomes vulnerable, underlying concerns rise up and take up the space you’ve created.
In fact, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. today, affecting nearly 18% of the adult population. Many people facing anxiety numb their feelings with drinking, smoking, or zoning out online (a modern escape route). However, we know these habits can make you feel worse. So what can you do in the moments at home while you’re suffering anxiously with no outlet? Try using essential oils. While essential oils won’t solve your problems, they can help alleviate some of the painful symptoms of anxiety. With more than 100 essential oils available online and in specialty retailers, the trick is knowing which of them will accomplish what you need.
Lavender is by far the most popular essential oil for relaxation and stress relief. Multiple clinical studies have found the aromatics of lavender to be useful in managing anxiety and depression. To apply this essential oil, first, mix it with a carrier oil such as almond oil or jojoba oil, then apply to temples on the face, neck, wrists, and behind the ears. If you want more, give yourself a foot massage with the essential oil blend and breathe deeply as you inhale, absorbing the benefits.
Orange has a bright scent that can knock the cobwebs right out of your mind. Aromatherapy with orange is known to increase happiness. According to a recent study, “women who were exposed to orange odor had a lower level of state anxiety, a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness [compared to the control group].” Use sweet orange essential oil as a bath accompaniment or add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser like this one from Amazon.
Ylang ylang is a fruity, floral scent created from cananga odorata, a tropical tree with bright yellow petals native to India. In concert with lavender and bergamot, the scent is proven to lower blood pressure and decrease stress. During moments of anxiety or panic, our blood pressure spikes in response; so by using ylang ylang aromatherapy, you can literally calm your nerves. Mix a few drops of ylang ylang essential oil with Epson salt in a warm bath to soak away the stress.
Rose, the scent of romance, is actually much more delicate than its popular iteration in grocery store flowers and discount facial sprays. Rose essential oil is a less on-the-nose, airy fragrance than what you might expect. The scent encourages joy and can decrease feelings of anxiety, which is why it’s so commonly connected to those loving feelings. Try a rose foot bath, fill a small basin like this with warm water and a few drops of oil; it’s proven to promote relaxation.
Would you believe basil, something in most of our dinner dishes, is a powerful relaxant? Well, it is! The scent is uplifting and refreshing and can help knock away sleepy or stressful feelings. Basil essential oil has a cooling sensation on the skin, which can also help remedy aches, tight muscles, and headaches. To use topically, mix with a carrier oil or lotion and rub the mixture into painful areas — just be sure to avoid the eyes if you’re applying on your temples for headaches.
There is a world full of natural healing methods but modern approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy for long-term concerns like depression and anxiety is still recommended. While essential oils like lavender, sweet orange, ylang ylang, rose, or basil can support your wellness journey, they shouldn’t be the only solution. Play with different scents to see what works for you. If you’re still unsure what to buy, visit a natural foods store to test them first.