Using Essential Oils to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

By Keith Wootan, a certified aromatherapist who works with Doterra Essential Oils


It’s well known that one of the difficulties of discussing stress is that people experience it in very different ways, as stress manifests itself differently in each individual. Stress isn’t avoidable but it is manageable. And the best way to manage it? Take action to identify stress-related problems as early as possible, so that action can be taken before serious stress-related illness occurs. As there are some common ways in which the negative effects of stress manifest themselves, I can give you some tips and advice that will work for most people.




It’s important to know that stress targets the weakest part of our physiology or character, so you need to know yourself well in order to deal with your own stress. For example, if you are prone to headaches, insomnia or eczema, these are likely to flare up during times of stress. If you have low levels of patience or tolerance for others, one of the first signs that you are experiencing stress will be that you have even less patience than usual.

Maintaining a positive mood and attitude can be very challenging at times. The chances are that you are familiar with managing several tasks at once, within a tight time frame, at home and at work. Did you know that essential oils can help restore your emotional balance and improve your overall attitude in any situation? Just as being in a good mood gives you a sense of happiness and well-being, bad moods can also lead to negative feelings over time. When it comes to managing your mood, essential oils can help you experience negative moods such as stress, discouragement, and fatigue in a much more positive way.




Essential oils have been used throughout history by many ancient cultures and practices, including in traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurvedic therapy and by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They knew something which we have largely forgotten – that our entire lives are affected by smell. Our nasal cavity contains over fifty million smell receptors, as well as the olfactory nerve, which connects directly to the brain. When we smell or inhale essential oils, this nerve rapidly sends signals to many different parts of the brain, including those in charge of emotions, mood, and memory. Our central nervous system may trigger a fight-or-flight response, quickening our breath and heart rate and raising our blood pressure, or, can soothe us by relaxing our bodies. This helps explain why some scents can so quickly trigger physical reactions in our bodies and have lasting effects even after the scent is gone. Some smells can influence the production of endorphins and serotonin that make us feel good, and essential oils such as lavender have even been shown to react the same way as anti-anxiety medications in certain situations.


Which Essential Oils to use?

It is best to only use Essential Oils that can guarantee their quality, as with many products in China, there are many fake products around. To get the most out of essential oil, you must choose a therapeutic-grade that is NOT adulterated. Adulterated oils contain synthetic chemicals or compounds than may contain fillers or artificial ingredients which not only dilute the natural composition of the plant extract but can also cause harm to your body.


Aromatic Usages

  • Diffuse a few drops in the morning, throughout the day, or right before going to bed. It’s best to avoid using a naked flame candle diffuser as these can destroy the properties of the oil – look for an ultrasonic mist diffuser.
  • Place a drop in your palm, rub the palms together, and inhale.
  • Drip 2–3 drops onto the floor of the hot shower, away from the water path, and breathe in.
  • Add to household surface cleaners, or to a load of laundry.
  • Add a couple of drops to pillows and bed linens.


Internal Usages

  • Pure, unadulterated essential oils are already a normal part of your diet and the human body is well equipped to safely metabolize them. However, it’s best to always start with one drop, and remember to use high quality non synthetic oils. As you become familiar with each essential oil and observe your body’s response to it, you can slowly increase the number of drops until you achieve the desired results.
  • Use oils that are recommended for internal use only. Some essential oils should not be used internally (such as Arborvitae, Birch, Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus, White Fir, and Wintergreen).
  • You can add a drop to your beverages, take them internally by making your own capsules, place a drop directly under your tongue, or use in your favorite recipes.


Topical Usages

  • Dilute essential oils with a pure vegetable oil such as coconut, olive or almond oil to increase the surface area of absorption, enhance absorption through dry skin, and to prevent sensitivity responses.
  • Apply to the bottoms of your feet – because the skin on the bottoms of our feet is less sensitive, there is less concern about skin reactions. Also, as there are many pores on bottom of our feet the oils absorb quickly and effectively.
  • Rubbing oils onto the chest promotes feelings of clear breathing.
  • Apply to sore muscles and joints to reduce inflammation and pain.




Which Essential Oil is Right for My Mood?

I’ve listed a few of our favorite stress-relief oils and suggested usages below



Cedar wood: Diffuse after a stressful day to relax the mind and body.

Geranium: Diffuse aromatically to calm nerves.

Serenity® Calming Blend: Diffuse to help promote relaxation and peace.



Arborvitae: Diffuse or rub on forehead, shoulders, or chest to lessen stress and tension.

Patchouli: Rub on temples or apply to the bottoms of feet to calm emotions.

Ylang Ylang: Put a few drops into Epsom salt bath for relaxation




Clary Sage: Apply to feet or pulse points to balance hormones.

Bergamot: Diffuse in the classroom or at work



Frankincense: Apply to the bottoms of feet to relax and balance mood swings.

Roman Chamomile: Add 1–2 drops to herbal teas to soothe the body and mind.

Vetiver: Diffuse aromatically or use topically with other calming essential oils, such as Lavender, Serenity, or Balance, to better help calm stress.



Rosemary: Diffuse aromatically or apply topically to help reduce tension, stress, and fatigue.

Lavender: Add to bath water to soak away stress.

doTERRA Balance® Grounding Blend: Apply to wrists or neck to help calm nerves.



Grapefruit/Lemon/Lime: Rub underneath your nose to sharpen focus while studying.

Citrus Bliss®: Diffuse aromatically or put one drop on your wrists and rub them together for an uplifting everyday perfume.

Peppermint: Apply to the palms of hands and deeply inhale for a quick pick-me-up.

Wild Orange: Energize the mind and body by placing two drops each of Wild Orange and Peppermint in the palm of your hand. Rub palms together and inhale deeply during high stress levels.



Sandalwood: Apply to the neck at bedtime for a restful sleep, or use during meditation.

Elevation: Diffuse in the mornings to start the day with a positive, uplifted mood.

Wild Orange: Put 1 drop in your hands, rub hands together and then smell for 2-3 minutes.