The film director Ingmar Bergman likened anxiety to a toothache, but “without the conscientious dentist having been able to find anything wrong with the tooth”. Like toothaches, anxiety doesn’t just magically go away – it will tear painfully through the fabric of an ordinary day if left unmanaged. And far from being phantom triggers, what amouthful of anxieties a global pandemic has left on our plates! Fear for ourselves and our loved ones, economic pressure, home schooling, relationships tested by distance or proximity, epic anxiety dreams laden with a cinematic foreboding of which Bergman himself would be proud.
For many of us, isolation has not only added novel emotional stressors into our lives; it may also have dredged long-forgotten angst to the surface as we spend more and more hours lost in introspection. No doubt that by now we’ve all tried the entire menu (remember those?) of recommended stress-busting activities – the long walks, the yoga, the sourdough-making, the Netflix binges, the cat-face filter in Zoom meetings…
But don’t despair! There’s still an emotionally nutritious item on the menu you might not yet have tried. Essential oils have been used to treat physical and mental ailments for thousands of years; the scientific exploration of their psychological effects accelerated in the 1920s with the work of the Italian doctors Renato Cayola and Giovanni Garri, who measured their impact on blood pressure, breathing rate and circulation. A century later, an entire smorgasbord of aromatherapy options is available to us, many of which are known to bring genuine relief to those suffering from anxieties new and old. Left unaddressed, anxiety can lead to raised blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so it’s important to take steps to dissipate the anxiety in our lives sooner rather than later.
The hero ingredient of essential oil therapies is Lavender. A trace scent in Tutankhamun’s tomb, weaponized as an aphrodisiac in Cleopatra’s seduction of Caesar and Mark Anthony, and atomized liberally, like a territorial signature of genius, by the rock legend Prince, Lavender is universally loved for its calming properties and joyful lift. It’s the star of several of our ten aromatherapy recipes for anxiety below, which have been tailored here for use in diffusers, spritzers, and massage oils.
Ready to banish Bergman’s toothache forever? Our aromatherapy recipes for anxiety are ready to assist (and not a cat-face filter in sight)!
1) Calming Anti-Anxiety Recipe
Lavender partners wonderfully with Geranium, Lemon and Sandalwood for a calming blend with just a slight edge of positive alertness.
2) Perceptiveness Anti-Anxiety Recipe
To further increase mental sharpness, try Sandalwood with the citrusy top notes of Bergamot, Grapefruit and Lime.
3) Serene Anti-Anxiety Recipe
Bergamot can also be combined with Clary Sage and Lavender for a blend, high in the calming chemical compound linalyl acetate.
4) Alleviating Anti-Anxiety Recipe
For those darkest of days, try a gloom-busting combination of Geranium, Clary Sage, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang.
(dilute approximately 10 drops in 20ml of carrier oil, never use on broken skin, and stop use immediately at the onset of itching or a rash)
5) Aromatic Anti-Anxiety Recipe
Mix Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Marjoram and the floral punch of Neroli for an oil Prince could have written a whole album about.
6) Relaxing Anti-Anxiety Recipe
A slightly less Lavender-centric, gently exotic massage alternative is Bergamot, Mandarin, Lavender and Lemongrass.
7) Comforting Anti-Anxiety Recipe
For grief, stress or sadness, try the warm hug of Petitgrain, Frankincense, Marjoram, Jasmine and Vetiver.
8) Motivating Anti-Anxiety Recipe
To help combat the loneliness of anxiety, a romantic blend of Sandalwood, Jasmine and Vanilla will remind you how valuable you are.
(begin with approx. 20 drops of essential oil to 100ml of filtered water + 40ml alcohol)
9) Blissful sleep Anti-Anxiety Recipe
Spray a mix of Lavender, Vanilla and Vetiver promote restful, worriless sleep.
10) Curative Anti-Anxiety Recipe
When anxiety those frowns leads to an inevitable tension headache, try Wintergreen, Peppermint , Chamomile and our trusted anti-anxiety ally Lavender to ease away the pain.
Want to learn about how CBD (cannabidiol) can be also used to manage anxiety? Read Covid, anxiety and CBD.
You can also find out about how plants have long been used to help put us tackle our anxiety by listening to an LabAroma podcast episode here.
Want to learn about the different essential oils you can use for anxiety? Check out the LabLearning Aromatherapy Material information by clicking here.