Humans have been using the power of scent for over 6,000 years. Modern aromatherapy uses the powerful properties of essential oils to balance and enhance mood.
How does it work? Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than the other four senses. The invisible world of scent powerfully affects our memories and our moods. Of the five senses, our sense of smell is the most primitive and most closely associated with our emotions and how our body responds to them. By stimulating the brain, aromatherapy can rejuvenate, cheer, balance, energize, de-stress, soothe, calm, etc. It can also promote meditative and spiritual states, induce euphoria and promote sensuality. Aromatherapy has many uses depending on the aromas used and the intent of the user.
There are several ways to use aromatherapy for stress, depending on the root and type of stress. For example, if you were experiencing hypostress, which is the type of stress caused by boredom or being unchallenged, you’d pick energizing, refreshing and stimulating scents. If you are feeling distress or hyperstress, you’d likely benefit from scents specifically geared to relaxing, soothing and calming.
10 Essential Oils Derived from Flowers for Stress Relief
While most of the following Essential Oils are known for their stress-reducing and calming properties, trust your intuition. You may be drawn to a scent that is associated with vitalizing and refreshing for your own stress relief. By all means, go with what your instincts tell you.
Jasmine Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum officinale
Aroma: Heady, intense, strongly sweet, floral, sensual
Uses: In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Professor Hanns Hatt published a study showing that Jasmine enhances GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a neuro-transmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells and the brain, soothing lab mice to the point that it was as “calming as Valium” (without the dangerous side effects).
Ylang Ylang Cananga odorata
Aroma: Heavy, sweet, floral, slightly fruity
Uses: Obtained from the flowers of a tropical tree, this scent is often included in high-end perfumes—but is also taken to alleviate anxiety, headaches, insomnia and muscle tension.
Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica
Aroma: Sweet, honeyed citrus, “like Spring”
Uses: In addition to its topical health benefits, Honeysuckle relieves anxiety, soothes frayed nerves, uplifts the spirit and promotes a sense of well-being (nostalgia for some, especially for those who grew up surrounded by this hardy flowering vine).
Chamomile is not only a stress reliever when ingested, but it also has the exact same properties when used as aromatherapy. There are three different types of chamomile, and all of them calm, soothe and relax.
German chamomile Matricaria chamomilla
Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis
Wild Chamomile Ormenis multicaulis
Aroma: Sweet, earthy, tart, apple-like
Uses: Traditionally used for its refreshing yet calming and soothing properties.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
Clary Sage Salvia sclarea
Aroma: Warm, sweet, nutty
Uses: Clary Sage’s inspiring, regenerating aroma is balancing and relaxing. It is especially helpful for women.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
Clove Bud Eugenia caryophyllata
Aroma: Strong, spicy, penetrating, warm
Uses: Traditionally used for its powerful and penetrating properties, Clove Bud is useful for those who want to inspire feelings of rest and relaxation.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy or on children under 2; can irritate skin.
Geranium Pelogonium graveolens
Aroma: Green, rosy, sweet, flowery
Uses: Geranium has a sweet aroma that is balancing, calming and uplifting.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
Aroma: Mellow, fresh, clean
Uses: Because of its versatility, has long been considered the wonder oil of essential oils. Lavender’s cool, mellow, peaceful fragrance has traditionally been used for its balancing effects and soothing properties.
Neroli Citrus aurantium
Aroma: Bittersweet, slightly citrus, exotic
Uses: Distilled from the flowers of the Seville orange, his fresh, floral aroma brightens the spirits and clears the mind.
Rose Bulgaria (aka Damask Rose) Rosa damascene
Aroma: Flowery, earthy, sweet
Uses: It takes over one ton of petals to yield one pound of pure Rose Bulgaria oil. The queen of oils for women, Rose is sensual, balancing and uplifting, as well as calming, relaxing and comforting (especially for matters of the heart).
Note: There are other wonderful oils that help with stress relief (e.g. Lemon, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Peppermint, Marjoram, Bergamot and Frankincense), but on the Flower Witchery blog, I focus only on all-things-floral…so I omitted them from the list. My husband’s personal favorite for stress-relief is Spearmint. Mine? Anything citrus--although I find smelling our honeysuckle bushes quite relaxing!
Caution: This list is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a qualified health practitioner before using Essential Oils to tread any psychological or physical condition.