15 Essential Oils That Can Help Ease Anxiety Symptoms

Whether you're suffering from stage fright because you need to give a speech at work, you're starting a new job and have first-day jitters, or you can't pinpoint the exact reason you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, aromatherapy and essential oils offer a natural way to help calm your nerves and ease your mind. Scents trigger calm in our minds, just as some scents have the ability to take us back in time (like the smell of pumpkin pie or freshly baked cookies, or the scent of the perfume your grandmother used to wear). These scents, whether they're tied to happy memories or are simply uplifting all on their own, cause our brains to release hormones that make us feel happier and calmer. The release of dopamine makes you feel more positive, while the release of serotonin contributes to calmness. 


Essential oils can be used many different ways, from keeping a perfume roll-on bottle of your favorite oils with you at all times to having an oil diffuser by your chair or bed. You can use one oil or create your own relaxing oil blends. You can even purchase jewelry with pads to drip oil on or that include lava rock beads that absorb the oil. Not sure which oils are best to help calm anxiety? We have a few suggestions.

Lifting lavender

Lavender is one of the most common herbs used for calming anxiety. It has been used in dream pillows and sleep sprays to help people get to sleep at night and have good dreams. Because of its calming abilities, it's an excellent option for anxiety relief. Some studies even provide evidence that lavender is a must for calming nerves. In fact, one study showed that the combination of lavender and orange helped calm those with a fear of the dentist.


Aside from relieving anxiety, lavender is also good for easing symptoms of depression. The uplifting scent of lavender makes it a great essential oil to wear as a perfume, so you can get the lasting effects of it throughout the day. Use it in massage oils to ease tension or even in baking or in your favorite beverages: Try a lavender tea at night to help you sleep, or give yourself a calming start to the day with lavender-infused coffee.

Warming vanilla

Vanilla is one of the most popular candle scents and for good reason — the warm and comforting scent makes us think of baking cakes and cookies. It's rich and inviting and is commonly used in perfumes as much as it's used in kitchens. Vanilla has the same calming, mood-lifting, stress-relieving, and sleep-assisting effects as lavender. For some, this may be a better option, as lavender can be pretty strong — if you're allergic to lavender or floral scents, reach for a vanilla essential oil instead.


Because it is such a popular candle scent, if you have trouble finding vanilla essential oils, you can buy a candle that's already infused with it and get the benefits that way. If you're shopping for vanilla in oil form so you can use it directly on your skin, such as on your temples or wrists, be sure to look for an oil that's totally pure and natural rather than something imitation from the herbs and spices section of the grocery store, as some products on the market contain harmful additives.

Happy holy basil

Not to be mistaken for the basil in your kitchen cupboard, though sweet basil has its own ability to uplift the spirits, holy basil is another excellent option to help you beat anxiety using essential oils. Holy basil, also known as tulsi, comes from Asia. Along with many internal and external healing properties, holy basil is used to calm anxiety because it is an adaptogen, just like turmeric and ashwagandha. Adaptogens are natural plants that have the innate ability to ease anxiety, fight fatigue, and help us deal better with stress.


Studies have shown that tulsi has amazing benefits when it comes to stressful situations, and while you can get the benefits of this herb in capsule form when you need a quick pick-me-up and boost in mood, holy basil oil will do the trick. Daily use of this herb could have lasting benefits in reducing overall anxiety. Be sure to buy food-grade oils so you can add a drop to your tea each day.

Peaceful sandalwood

Sandalwood is another scent that's often found in colognes and perfumes. It has a woodsy scent, which may be why it finds itself in men's cologne, but it's also a natural, earthy scent with an inherent sweetness that defies gender. The woodsy and earthy elements could be part of the reason sandalwood is great for calming our nerves, making it a grounding aroma.


Studies have shown that sandalwood may relieve anxiety when blended with other essential oils, such as lavender, orange, and even peppermint. It can even help reduce cortisol levels, making it a stress fighter that could help fight fat around our waistlines as well. While you can use sandalwood oil on its own, a nice blend of oils can surely add to its ability to lift your mood, boost your energy, and keep you from entering fight or flight in stressful situations. Like most essential oils, sandalwood is helpful for a plethora of ailments, including skin conditions and inflammation.

Calming chamomile

Chamomile is a common addition to teas meant to help you relax and fall asleep at night, which makes it a fitting essential oil to add to this list. Chamomile is a flowering herb that resembles a small daisy. Its mild tranquilizing effects is why it's used in teas to help people get to sleep. One study found that regular usage of chamomile helped people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and that it may be a safer alternative to some anxiety medications. 


While chamomile can be ingested through capsules and teas, you can also reap the benefits of this essential oil through inhalation. Apigenin is an antioxidant found in chamomile that is believed to be what gives this herb its relaxing benefits that help people snooze. Because chamomile is known to cause drowsiness, it's not recommended you use it when you need to be alert, such as at work or while driving. 

Sedating valerian

Another sleep-inducing anxiety reliever is valerian, which also should be taken with caution — never take it when you have to drive or need to be fully alert. Valerian has been used for centuries as a treatment for everything from insomnia to stomach cramps, and its sedative effects can help calm anxious feelings. Valerian is sometimes taken in pill form and can be found in teas, but this essential oil also works well in aromatherapy blends. In one study, it worked well in conjunction with lemon balm to help insomnia sufferers get more sleep.


Because valerian has a somewhat strong odor that isn't pleasant to everyone, it works best when combined with other anxiety-relieving oils that have a more pleasant scent, such as patchouli, vanilla, lavender, and orange. Mix it with one or more scents and use in a perfume roller with a carrier, in your diffuser, or with your oil-diffusing jewelry. 

Soothing cedarwood

Another woody scent, which has just a hint of citrus, that can help ease your worries is cedarwood. Again, this oil is sometimes used in perfumes and colognes but can work well as an aromatherapy treatment for combatting symptoms of anxiety. Often used in hair and skin treatments for some of its healing benefits, it is the soothing scent of this oil that seems to make it work well for calming our nerves.


To get an even more potent pick-me-up from cedarwood, consider blending it with bergamot or orange oil for stress-free mornings, or combine it with lavender for a laid-back evening of comfort and relaxation. While this woodsy scent works well on its own, it plays well with many combinations of essential oils. When using cedarwood or a blend of oils at night, you can try spritzing some of the oil under your pillow through an atomizer spray bottle. The scent will drift you off to sleep in no time.

Tranquil patchouli

While many folks think of hippies when they hear the word "patchouli," this essential oil is far more than a body odor cover-up. It has a musky scent that's grounding and down to earth. With using this essential oil, it's important to note that a little goes a long way — too much could overpower your senses. A study was done on overworked nurses to see how patchouli could help them, and while the oil didn't keep them from experiencing burnout, it did help reduce their stress levels.


If patchouli can reduce the stress of someone working in an emergency room, then it may also help calm your nerves when you have an exam to take or you've determined it's time to break up with your significant other. To keep the scent of this essential oil from being overwhelming, combine it with some lighter scents, such as chamomile or rose.

Quieting lemon balm

If you think lemon balm looks like mint, that's because it is a member of the mint family. Its lemony name comes from the citrusy flavor it has combined with a hint of mint. Lemon balm is commonly used in healing ointments that help with all sorts of skin conditions, from soothing burns to taking the sting out of bug bites. It's also found in teas, which is a great way to get the herb's relaxing properties.


Lemon balm oil blends well with other essential oils, including valerian, as mentioned previously. If you don't want the super-sleepy effects of valerian, you can also get increased effectiveness by mixing your lemon balm with patchouli or one of the woody scents — these blends can help relieve anxiety and keep you feeling calmer. If you want to use it to help with sleep, it combines well with chamomile, too.

Lulling frankincense

Frankincense was one of the gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus — perhaps knowing its calming essence would soothe the little one. While that may be one of the first places many people learn about it, frankincense is commonly used in all sorts of incense blends, candles, and scented oils. Frankincense is most often found as a resin or an oil. You can burn the resin and inhale the stress-relieving scent, or opt for an oil that you can use in a plethora of ways.


While you can use this oil in the traditional ways we've already mentioned, such as in your diffuser, you can also add a few drops to your bath at night to help you relax and destress after a long and busy day. You can also blend this oil with other relaxing essential oils to create something all your own. Add something to help with sleep, something bright and spicy to give you a boost, or something woody to help you feel more grounded.

Relaxing marjoram

Marjoram is another min-related herb that is used most often in the kitchen. It makes a great replacement for thyme and oregano, as it has a woody scent and flavor. Of course, we're more interested in marjoram's healing benefits, which include contributing to anxiety relief. This essential oil can work so well at relieving stress, in fact, that one study found it helped people who grind their teeth.


While you can add marjoram in the form of fresh or dried herbs, such as vitamins K and A, to meals to enjoy some of its internal benefits, it works well as an essential oil. The oil has a sweet, somewhat floral-like scent blended with the woodsy odor. Marjoram also helps regulate hormones and ease stress symptoms that include lowering blood pressure (which can be elevated when you're feeling overly stressed or anxious). You can combine marjoram with other essential oils, especially with citrus oils and other woodsy scents.

Cortisol-calming neroli

Neroli comes from flowers on bitter orange trees, so it combines a citrus scent with that of florals. Neroli can be a powerhouse when it comes to relieving anxiety and can help lower blood pressure and ease menopause symptoms. When anxiety increases your heart rate, neroli can help calm you down.


An added benefit to using neroli oil is that it seems to help reduce cortisol, a hormone found in the body that adds to the fat around our waists. To get the anxiety-reducing benefits of the oil, all you need to do is give it a sniff! You can combine neroli with other oils, but it works great on its own to help you feel calmer. If work is stressing you out, keep a diffuser with a few drops of neroli oil at your desk where you can have the sweet scent keep you on track.

Grounding rhododendron

There's a reason people always say you should stop and smell the flowers — floral scents, for those who aren't allergic, are calming. We could have included dozens of floral oils on this list, but rhododendron beat many of the others out because it's a unique oil that comes from one specific species of rhododendron: the Rhododendron anthopogon or dwarf rhodendron. 


Rhododendron has a grounding scent and has been found helpful in treating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you think of anxiety and depression, you think of being nervous, feeling down, and lacking energy — this oil is known to help people find more energy to get out of depressive slumps and find the calm they need. Combine rhododendron oil with other floral essences, such as lavender and rose, to increase the oil's calming and balancing qualities. Combining it with neroli could also help get you through grief.

Perk-me-up peppermint

Peppermint oil gets a lot of love for being an uplifting scent that can help keep you awake behind the wheel, as it is a stimulant (so you may not want to use it before bed). It also helps ease headaches, including the ones caused by tension from stress and anxiety. While it is a stimulant, which may seem counterintuitive when it comes to treating symptoms of anxiety, studies have shown it can reduce pain and anxiety in clinical settings. Peppermint oil helps clear your mind so you can see the bigger picture through the fears that are triggering you.


Because peppermint oil is used to help treat stomach aches, including those caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it can also help ease nausea caused by anxiety. For a little extra relaxation, you can combine your peppermint oil with patchouli and lemon balm, both of which will ease up some of the stimulating effects of peppermint.

Aromatic rose

Red roses are a symbol of love, and integrating rose oil into your self-care routine is a symbol of self-love. While we've seen a lot of rose water and rose oil used as ingredients in skincare products, did you know that rose oil can help reduce your anxiety?


Used directly on the skin, one study found that rose oil helped reduce high levels of cortisol and blood pressure in participants — cortisol contributes to feelings of stress — showing that rose oil can help with stress relief. Another study showed that it helped mothers giving birth experience less anxiety while giving birth. So, if you want some real relaxation, combine rose oil with your other favorite essential oils, use it alone on your skin, or even add a few drops to a calming bath. Rose oil smells like roses, so it would make a great perfume to wear on days when you don't want to give stress the chance to creep in.