I never leave home without my essential oils. They’re especially helpful when I’m on the road giving lectures and doing book signings. As many of you know, travel creates a lot of wear and tear on the body. It can be super stressful, and did I mention the insomnia? Yeah, that too.
In fact, I struggle with insomnia when I travel, especially across different time zones. Some nights I sleep, other nights no such luck. Then the frickin’ fear of not sleeping sets in, which creates anxiety and a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to bags and the blues. This is one of the many reasons I’ve been trying to learn more about essential oils.
While there are so many wonderful and therapeutic reasons to use aromatherapy, today I’m sharing some of my favorite oils and their health benefits—specifically for stress, anxiety, depression and sleep issues.
Top Essential Oils for Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Sleep
Lavender: Lavender is my go-to oil—a proven stress and anxiety reliever that helps me stay balanced. This one gets the gold star when it comes to helping you relax and fall asleep more easily, plus it’s been shown to even improve the quality of your snooze-time (study and study)! Talk about a one-stop wellness shop.
Research has also found that it helps to reduce anxiety (study), depression and is a helpful pain reliever (study). You can try adding a few drops to an oil diffuser that you use in your bedroom. Just make sure it’s 100 percent pure Lavandula Angustifolia, the soothing lavender, rather than Lavandula Latifolia, the stimulating lavender.
And here’s another fun way to add lavender to your life: Use lavender towelettes in your pillowcase or while massaging your temples and back of your neck during times of stress. They even work as a makeup remover before bed. Just make sure they’re made from essential oils like the ones sold by Herban Essentials, rather than just ones that have a lavender scent.
I know this next cool fact isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested in energy vibrations, that’s yet another reason essential oils are considered effective. And rose has one of the highest frequencies of any essential oil. That’s why many believe it opens your heart to welcoming more love, stronger connections with others and a better sense of calm.
Bergamot: Bergamot oil has a pleasant, citrusy scent. Although you may not have heard of it, bergamot has been very well researched, especially for reducing work-related stress, anxiety among people with mild depression, and even pain relief.
Neuroscientists have actually looked at bergamot’s effect on the inner workings of the brain and how it can change synaptic plasticity, which is basically the way experiences and memories affect sensory stimulation in the brain (study). This research is a big deal for people who are under a lot of stress or have mood disorders (study).
For example, classroom teachers have started to use room diffusers with bergamot to help them be more calm and patient with their students, while also preventing stress from having a negative effect on their bodies. My favorite way to use bergamot oil is to add a few drops to a steamy shower so I can inhale it, or add it to a moisturizer for a soothing foot massage.
Tips for Choosing and Using Pure Essential Oils
- Read labels: Look for pure essential oils that have the botanical Latin name. Trustworthy vendors usually list the oil’s botanical name, and even the country of origin and method of extraction (though I haven’t really seen this). However, there’s no government regulation of essential oils, so any oil can be called “pure” regardless of the age or crop quality of its ingredients. Beware of those with “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label, especially since synthetic oils don’t have the same therapeutic benefits. Some of the most trusted essential oil brands include Annmarie Gianni, Young Living, Mountain Rose Herbs and dōTERRA.
- Experiment with how you use them: The best way to experience the goodness of essential oils is the way that works for you. Inhalation is a fast route to enjoying their mood-boosting benefits, so just open the bottle and sniff (ahhh…). Diffusers that mix the oils with water are popular and pretty easy to find. Again, here’s the link for ones I like.
- Soak it in: Adding a few drops to the bathtub delivers benefits to your nose and skin at the same time, along with a fabulous, relaxing spa-like experience. Bonus: Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts and a quarter cup of baking soda to the bathwater to help detox heavy metals and radiation and soothe skin. Find the way that works best for you and go for it!
- Use a carrier oil: Applying pure essential oils directly to your skin can cause irritation. So if your skin is sensitive, try diluting your favorite scent with what’s known as a carrier oil (such as organic coconut oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil).