The Top 8 Essential Oils for Relaxation and Stress Relief: How to Use Them Safely and Effectively

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The Top 8 Essential Oils for Relaxation and Stress Relief: How to Use Them Safely and Effectively


In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, finding ways to relax and alleviate stress is more important than ever. Chronic stress can lead to a myriad of health issues including anxiety, depression, insomnia and even physical ailments such as heart disease and digestive disorders. As a result it’s crucial to find effective methods to help manage stress and promote relaxation in our daily lives.

One increasingly popular approach to stress relief is the use of essential oils which are natural, concentrated liquids extracted from plants. These oils offer a holistic and natural way to support emotional and physical well-being. As people seek out natural remedies and self-care practices, essential oils have gained attention for their ability to promote relaxation, balance emotions and reduce stress.

This article aims to guide you through the top 8 essential oils that can aid in relaxation and stress relief. We’ll explore the properties and benefits of each oil as well as provide information on how to use them safely and effectively. By the end of this article you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to incorporate essential oils into your self-care routine to help you unwind, find balance and manage stress.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile, aromatic compounds derived from various parts of plants including flowers, leaves, stems, roots and bark. They are typically obtained through a process called steam distillation where plant material is exposed to steam causing the essential oil to evaporate. The steam and oil vapor are then condensed and the oil is collected separately. Some essential oils, such as citrus oils, are extracted through a process called cold pressing where the oil is mechanically squeezed from the fruit peel.

Essential oils can have a powerful impact on our emotional and physical well-being due to their complex chemical compositions. When inhaled the aromatic molecules in essential oils interact with the olfactory system which sends signals to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is responsible for controlling emotions, memory and certain physiological functions. This is why certain scents can evoke emotional responses or memories. Topically applied essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin where they can interact with the body’s systems and provide various therapeutic benefits.

When choosing essential oils it’s crucial to prioritize quality and purity. Low-quality oils may be diluted or adulterated with synthetic compounds reducing their effectiveness and potentially causing harm. To ensure you are using safe and effective essential oils, look for reputable suppliers that provide information on the source, extraction method and testing methods used to verify the oil’s purity. Additionally, opt for oils that are labeled as 100% pure, therapeutic grade or organically produced to ensure the highest quality.

The top 8 essential oils for relaxation and stress relief


Properties and benefits: Lavender is widely known for its calming and relaxing properties. It can help alleviate anxiety, stress and insomnia making it a popular choice for promoting restful sleep and overall relaxation.

Methods of use: Lavender essential oil can be used in various ways such as diffusing it in an aromatherapy diffuser, adding a few drops to a warm bath or applying it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to the wrists, temples or behind the ears.


Properties and benefits: Chamomile essential oil, particularly Roman chamomile, is known for its soothing and calming properties. It can help reduce feelings of anxiety, stress and irritability, and may also promote better sleep.

Methods of use: Chamomile oil can be diffused, used in a warm bath or applied topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to areas such as the wrists or temples.

Ylang Ylang:

Properties and benefits: Ylang Ylang essential oil is known for its ability to reduce anxiety and stress, promote relaxation and uplift the mood. It has a sweet, floral scent that many people find appealing.

Methods of use: Diffuse Ylang Ylang essential oil, add it to a bath or apply it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to experience its calming effects.


Properties and benefits: Bergamot essential oil has a fresh, citrusy scent and is known for its ability to reduce anxiety, stress and negative emotions. It can also help balance mood and promote feelings of well-being.

Methods of use: Use Bergamot essential oil in a diffuser or add a few drops to a warm bath. Note that it can cause photosensitivity so avoid sun exposure after topical application.


Properties and benefits: Frankincense essential oil is renowned for its ability to promote relaxation, reduce stress and support meditation or mindfulness practices. It has a warm, earthy scent that many people find grounding.

Methods of use: Diffuse Frankincense oil, add it to a bath or apply it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to help create a calming atmosphere.

Clary Sage:

Properties and benefits: Clary Sage essential oil is known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety and tension. It is often used to promote emotional balance and help alleviate symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Methods of use: Use Clary Sage essential oil in a diffuser, add it to a bath, or apply it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to areas such as the abdomen, wrists or temples.


Properties and benefits: Orange essential oil has an uplifting, citrusy scent that can help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. It promotes a positive mood and can create a more cheerful atmosphere.

Methods of use: Diffuse Orange essential oil, add a few drops to a warm bath, or apply it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to experience its mood-boosting effects.


Properties and benefits: Vetiver essential oil is known for its grounding and calming properties. It can help reduce anxiety, stress and insomnia, making it a great choice for promoting relaxation and restful sleep.

Methods of use: Diffuse Vetiver oil, add it to a bath or apply it topically (diluted with a carrier oil) to experience its calming effects.

How to use essential oils safely and effectively

Diluting essential oils with carrier oils:

To use essential oils safely it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. This not only reduces the risk of skin irritation but also helps increase the absorption of the oil. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and grapeseed oil. A general guideline for dilution is to use a 2% concentration which equates to approximately 12 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil. However, some essential oils may require a lower concentration so always consult the label or a qualified professional for proper dilution ratios.

Using essential oils in aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy is a popular method of using essential oils to promote relaxation and stress relief. To enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy you can use an essential oil diffuser which disperses the oil into the air in the form of a fine mist. Typically, 3-5 drops of essential oil per 100ml of water is sufficient but always refer to the diffuser’s instructions for the specific amount. Alternatively, you can also add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water or a tissue and inhale the aroma.

Topical application and massage:

Applying essential oils topically can provide targeted relief for stress and tension. As mentioned earlier, always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. Once diluted, you can gently massage the oil onto areas such as the temples, wrists, neck or the soles of your feet. You can also use diluted essential oils for a full-body massage to help promote relaxation and stress relief.

Proper storage and handling of essential oils:

To ensure the longevity and efficacy of your essential oils it’s essential to store them properly. Keep essential oils in dark, amber-colored glass bottles away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Additionally, tightly seal the bottle’s cap after each use to prevent oxidation and maintain the oil’s potency. Properly stored essential oils can have a shelf life of several years depending on the specific oil.

Precautions and contraindications

Allergies and skin sensitivities:

Before using a new essential oil it’s important to conduct a patch test to check for any allergic reactions or skin sensitivities. To perform a patch test, dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil and apply a small amount to the inside of your forearm. Wait for 24 hours to see if any redness, itching or irritation occurs. If you experience any adverse reactions, discontinue use of the essential oil.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Some essential oils should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy and breastfeeding as they can potentially have adverse effects on the mother or baby. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified aromatherapist before using essential oils during pregnancy or while nursing.

Use with children and pets:

Essential oils can be beneficial for children but they should be used with caution and at a lower dilution rate. Always consult a healthcare professional before using essential oils with children and be aware that some oils may not be suitable for use around infants and toddlers. Additionally, some essential oils can be toxic to pets so be sure to research the safety of specific oils for your pets and consult with a veterinarian before using essential oils around animals.

Interactions with medications and medical conditions:

Essential oils can potentially interact with certain medications or exacerbate certain medical conditions. Before using essential oils consult with a healthcare professional if you have any existing medical conditions or are taking prescription medications. They can provide guidance on which essential oils are safe to use and any potential interactions to be aware of.


Essential oils offer a natural and holistic approach to promoting relaxation and alleviating stress in our daily lives. With a range of therapeutic properties and diverse methods of use they can easily be incorporated into your self-care routine to support emotional and physical well-being. By selecting high-quality essential oils, understanding their benefits and using them safely and effectively, you can create a calming environment and better manage the stressors of modern life.

Incorporating essential oils into your daily life not only promotes relaxation and stress relief but also invites you to become more mindful and present in the moment. As you explore the world of essential oils, take the time to appreciate the scents, textures and sensations they bring allowing yourself to truly unwind and connect with your inner self.

Discover the power of essential oils for relaxation and stress relief—immerse yourself in their soothing scents and experience a more balanced, peaceful life.

Further Reading

To deepen your understanding of essential oils and their benefits for relaxation and stress relief, consider exploring the following resources:


The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood

Essential Oils for Beginners: The Guide to Get Started with Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Althea Press

The Healing Power of Essential Oils” by Eric Zielinski, D.C.

Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child” by Valerie Ann Worwood

Online resources:

Aromahead Institute: An online aromatherapy school offering courses, workshops and a comprehensive blog with information on essential oils and their uses.

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy: A nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the responsible use of essential oils offering educational resources, articles and research.

Tisserand Institute: An organization founded by renowned aromatherapist Robert Tisserand providing evidence-based information on essential oils, their safety and effectiveness.

Aromatics International: A reputable essential oil supplier that also offers a wealth of educational resources, recipes and information on essential oils and their uses.

Consult with professionals:

Seek guidance from a certified aromatherapist who can provide personalized recommendations for essential oils based on your specific needs and preferences.

Consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils if you have any existing medical conditions, are taking prescription medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

By exploring these resources and seeking guidance from professionals you can deepen your knowledge of essential oils, refine your self-care practices and enhance your overall well-being.