7 Best Essential Oils for Stress

Consider aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, as one more tool in your stress-fighting toolbox. Science has shown that essential oils do have calming effects and can improve your mood.

Below you’ll find seven of the best essential oils for stress that have proven calming and anxiety-relieving benefits. You don’t need to invest in them all, just pick on or two that speak to you.

Essential Oil Safety

It’s awesome that more people today are using essential oils in their daily lives. But as their usage has increased, so has the incidence of adverse reactions.

Essential oils are natural, but they are still powerful remedies. To keep you and your family safe while using essential oils, please follow these safety guidelines:

  • Don’t use essential oils undiluted on the skin. Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. They can cause chemical burns when used full-strength on the skin. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or other skincare product.
  • Do not take essential oils internally unless under the advice of a naturopath or holistic heal practitioner. For internal use, consider whole herbs in tea form instead. They are a safer way to get benefits from any plant remedy because they are not as concentrated as essential oils.
  • Take care using essential oils around children and pets. Young children and animals have sensitive skin and respiratory systems and can easily be overwhelmed by essential oils. Cats and birds, in particular, are very sensitive to the effects of essential oils, so use with caution.
  • Essential oils should not be used as a treatment for any medical condition. Aromatherapy is a wonderful complement to, but should never replace conventional medical treatment.

Essential Oils for Stress Releif

3 Simple Ways to Use Essential Oils for Stress Relief

  • Add to your body lotions and body balms (either store-bought or DIY) at 6 to 12 drops essential oils per ounce product.
  • Add to a rollerball with fractionated coconut oil or sunflower oil. In a 10 milliliter (mL) roller ball jar, which is the most common size, add a total of 6 drops essential oil.
  • Use in a diffuser throughout the day.


Lavender is arguable the most well-studied essential oils, so there is plenty of science to back up its benefits.

lavender oil benefits and uses
Lavender is one of the most versatile essential oils
Photo Credit: rocknwool

Lavender is a quintessential stress reliever. It’s been shown to lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure (during stressful situations), and generally have a sedating effect on the nervous system.

Lavender essential oil may help with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia, and promoting a deeper and more restful sleep
  • Stress

Ylang ylang

Ylang ylang (pronounced EE-lang EE-lang) is extracted from large, beautiful flowers native to Southeast Asia. Ylang ylang is an intoxicatingly sensual floral fragrance, however, some people find it overpowering.

Like lavender, ylang ylang has been shown to lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and calm the nervous system.

Diffusing Essential Oils
Diffusing Essential Oils has a calming effect – Aromatherapy

Try ylang ylang essential oil for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Improving mood
  • Increasing libido

Rose Geranium

Rose geranium is an exquisite oil for women. Not only is it a good stress-reliever, but it also helps balance mood shifts caused by hormonal fluctuations (like PMS) and exceptionally supportive of women in the perimenopausal time of life.

Rose geranium has an herbaceous rose-like scent that’s less sweet that most other floral essential oils. It’s the perfect substitute for costly rose essential oil.

Use rose geranium for:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Improve mood
  • Balance hormones
Essential Oil Skincare
Photo Credit: Chelsea Shapouri

Citrus Oils

Who can resist the cheering scent of tangerine? Or the uplifting and energizing scent of lemons?

Citrus essential oils include lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, sweet orange, and bergamot. While not widely studied, the info we do have has shown citrus oils to be mood-brightening, energizing, and tension-relieving.

Citrus essential oils are purported to have these benefits:

  • Promote relaxation
  • Elevate your mood
  • Reduce feelings of irritation
  • Relieve tension
citrus essential oil uses
Citrus essential oils uplift your mood
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark

Some citrus oils have photo-toxic effects, meaning they can cause severe burns when they are applied to the skin and that skin is then exposed to the sun. Please research the citrus oil before using it on the skin, or simply use it in a diffuser.

(Side note: if you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, I highly recommend Robert Tisserand’s book Essential Oil Safety, as well as The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless.)


If you’re not big on floral scents, frankincense will be right up your alley. It has a faintly sweet, woody, resinous fragrance. Frankincense is an ancient and spiritual oil that has been used for thousands of years.

Although there is less scientific literature regarding the psychological effects of frankincense, it has been used in traditional medicine for millennia. Traditional folk medicine and holistic healers say frankincense essential oil is:

  • Grounding
  • Soothing
  • Good for anxiety and agitation

This is also an awesome anti-aging essential oil and is gentle enough to be used in facial applications. I love it in DIY facial creams.

Another benefit that is fitting right about now: frankincense can help boost your immune system.

Clary sage

Don’t confuse clary sage with the culinary sage used in cooking. The scent of clary sage is much richer, with a floral undertone. If you don’t care for the scent right off the bat, don’t give up on it. I’ve found that this essential oil takes a few experiences with before you can fully appreciate its warm, earthy fragrance.

Inhaling clary sage essential oil has been shown to reduce cortisol, and may have anti-depressive effects.

Clary sage is helpful for:

  • Relieving anxiety and depression
  • Promoting restful sleep
  • Soothing tension, both mental and physical

Like rose geranium, clary sage essential oil is especially helpful for women. Clary sage contains a chemical constituent that acts like estrogen in the body. Women who apply clary sage topically find it reduces both symptoms of menopause (like hot flashes) as well as PMS troubles such as cramps, this according to studies published in the journals Phytotherapy Research (2014) and the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research (2012), respectively.

I can personally attest to the magic of clary sage for PMS, and it’s become one of my go-to favorites for relaxation and stress relief.

essential oils
Keep essential oils on hand for when you are stressed
Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema


Who doesn’t like sitting down with a calming cup of chamomile tea? Chamomile essential oil is just as soothing.

Like frankincense, chamomile essential oil has not been widely studied, so much of its purported benefits are anecdotal. Still, traditional folk medicine has relied on chamomile for years for its sedating effects and I can personally attest to its effectiveness.

Chamomile is credited as being:

  • Anxiety-relieving
  • Calming and quieting to the mind
  • Promote a deeper, more restful sleep

If you are allergic to ragweed, you should avoid chamomile essential oil as a precaution since it is in the same botanical family.

essential oils for stress


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Karadag E, Samancioglu S, Ozden D, Bakir E. Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Nurs Crit Care. 2017 Mar;22(2):105-112. doi:10.1111/nicc.12198

Tan LT, Lee LH, Yin WF, et al. Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:896314. doi:10.1155/2015/896314

Rashidi Fakari F,Tabatabaeichehr M,Kamali H, Rashidi Fakari,  Naseri M. Effect of Inhalation of Aroma of Geranium Essence on Anxiety and Physiological Parameters during First Stage of Labor in Nulliparous Women: a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Caring Sci. 2015 Jun; 4(2): 135–141. doi:10.15171/jcs.2015.014

DosokyNS, SetzerWN. Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus spp. Essential Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jul; 19(7): 1966. doi:10.3390/ijms19071966

Lee KB, Cho E, Kang YS. Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and cortisol plasma levels in menopausal women after inhalation of clary sage oil. Phytother Res. 2014 Nov;28(11):1599-605. doi:10.1002/ptr.5163

Ou MC, Hsu TF, Lai AC, Lin YT, Lin CC. Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2012 May;38(5):817-22. doi:10.1111/j.1447-0756.2011.01802.x

Guest Post – Bio:

Angela Palmer , Farm Girl Soap Co.

Angela Palmer is an esthetician specializing in holistic and DIY skin care. She teaches beginning crafters how to make green beauty products at home that are simple, safe, and effective. Get started making your own natural beauty products with Angela’s free Handmade Skin Care for Beginners E-Course.