• The power of natural scents and fragrances have long been accepted in the field of aromatherapy. The soothing aromas of certain essential oils can help ground and balance one's mental state and offer relief from stress or negative experiences.
  • Aromatherapy techniques for relaxation include massage, inhalation, and establishing bathing self-care rituals.
  • An aromatherapy massage makes use of the mind-body connection to impart a deep sense of peace and relaxation in the body, which in turn can help calm down a restless mind.
  • The inhalation of essential oils with anxiolytic or sedative properties can help with stress or anxiety-related issues such as difficulty falling asleep. They can also be used to support prayer and meditative practices such as mindfulness.
  • An aromatherapy bath uses scented oil blends to create a sacred personal space that helps the mind and body renew and recover from stress, worry, and fatigue.




Modern life is rife with problems and stressors, which can often give rise to the commonly experienced feeling of doom or fear also known as 'stress' or 'anxiety'. Although unpleasant, this mental state is typically the body's normal response to a perceived threat and is physiologically known as the 'fight or flight' response: our heart rate increases, the pulse quickens, blood gets diverted to our muscles, and a surge of hormones including cortisol is released as our body prepares to face or flee danger. In clinical cases, this stress response may be abnormally heightened or last a prolonged period of time, affecting one's day-to-day functioning.

Since the 1900s, aromatherapists have made use of the enticing aromas and valuable properties of various essential oils to treat mental ailments. The synergy between the vast number of chemical constituents comprising certain essential oils have been known to have a positive impact on one's mood, attitude, and overall psychological state. Lavender Essential Oil is a well-known example of this; many have experienced the soothing, calming, uplifting quality of Lavender's enchanting scent.

Today, there is a wealth of accumulated research conducted on the effect of essential oils on stress, anxiety, and related issues, including insomnia and depression. Some of the essential oils reputed for their calming or anxiolytic effects and mentioned in aromatherapy remedies for anxiety include:

  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Chamomile Roman Essential Oil
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Rose Absolute
  • Rose Geranium Essential Oil
  • Clary Sage Essential Oil
  • Bergamot Essential Oil
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil
  • Coriander Essential Oil
  • Marjoram Sweet Essential Oil
  • Orange Bitter Essential Oil
  • Orange Sweet Essential Oil
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

In addition, the essential oil constituents noted in research studies for their calming, relaxing, sedative, or muscle-soothing effects when inhaled or absorbed through topical application include:

  • Limonene (found in Lemon, Orange Butter, Lime, Bergamot, and other citrus essential oils)
  • Linalool (found in Lavender, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Ho Wood, Basil, and Rosemary essential oils)
  • Linalyl acetate (found in Lavender, Bergamot, and Clary Sage essential oils)
  • Citronellol (found in Citronella, Geranium, Rose Geranium, and Eucalyptus essential oils)
  • Geraniol (found in Citronella, Geranium, Rose Geranium, and Palmarosa essential oils)

Aromatherapy makes use of the innate properties of pure essential oils to achieve a positive outcome in an individual's health or well-being. The power of scent is particularly useful for day-to-day experiences of stress, anxiety, or worry as it grounds us and brings us back to the present moment, rather than being lost in scattered thoughts and fearful fantasies. By relying on the world of aromas and influencing the body's response via techniques such as massage, inhalation, cleansing, and other rituals, one can create a state of relaxation and balance in the face of negative thoughts or feelings.

According to the Tisserand Institute, the ongoing pandemic may be contributing to new sources of stress, leading to issues such as health anxiety, chronic anxiety, or phobias. Read on to discover how aromatherapy principles and techniques can act as a useful resource for self-care and general relaxation when things get too overwhelming, and how this can be achieved with simple recipes.




An aromatherapy massage is an effective way of soothing the mind by harnessing the benefits of the mind-body connection. A build-up of stress and anxiety can lead to pockets of tension in areas such as the forehead, neck, wrists, shoulders, lower back, and feet, which can manifest as aches, pains, stiffness, and soreness. Massaging and caring for the body using therapeutic essential oils and wholesale carrier oils can often bring about a profound sense of relaxation and release us from day-to-day anxieties.

Contrary to popular belief, massage is a practice that does not need to be carried out solely by a partner or massage therapy practitioner. Self-massage, as a daily ritual, is an effective way of easing tension and achieving stillness by bringing one's attention back to the body and the present moment. Lying down in a comfortable position on a mat or reclining on a chair, use your fingers and flat, open palms to apply one of the blends below with long, gliding strokes to press down on muscles that feel tired or tight. This movement is known as 'Effleurage' in aromatherapy massage and helps slowly warm up and relax the muscles. Then, using your fingers and thumb, 'knead' any areas of tension with firm but comfortable pressure in slow and steady motion. The knuckles can also be used to perform this technique known as 'Petrissage', which further soothes the muscles and boosts circulation.

To help with tension headaches or migraines, gently massage the back of the neck, temples, scalp, and shoulder muscles. With very light tip-tapping motions of the fingertips and virtually no pressure, massage the cheeks, forehead, and the area between the eyes. This 'Feathering' technique can be done on other body regions as well, and is a wonderful way of gently shifting your attention towards the physical state of your body and away from internal anxieties.


Deep Relaxation Massage Blend

Sandalwood Essential Oil 2 drops
Frankincense Essential Oil 2 drops
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil 2 drops
Carrier Oil of your choice 30 mL / 1 fl. oz.

Calm & Comfort Massage Blend

Coriander Essential Oil 2 drops
Tea Tree Essential Oil 2 drops
Lemon Essential Oil 3 drops
Vitamin E Liquid 1 tsp.
Carrier Oil of your choice 30 mL / 1 fl. oz.

Tranquility Massage Blend

Bergamot Essential Oil 10 drops
Chamomile Roman Essential Oil 5 drops
Carrier Oil of your choice 30 mL / 1 fl. oz.

Instructions for Massage Blend Recipes: In a glass container, pour in the carrier oil before adding the essential oils and Vitamin E liquid (if applicable). Mix the ingredients together by swirling the container. Warm a portion of this blend in between the palms of your hand before applying onto and massaging desired areas.

Safety for Massage Blend Recipes: A skin patch test prior to use is recommended, especially for those with sensitive skin. Avoid sun exposure for a minimum of 12 hours after using blends with Bergamot or Lemon Essential Oils.




The olfactory sense is thought to be a powerful propeller of emotion regulation; this is why a favorite childhood smell (such as the scent of peppermint or freshly baked cookies) can create a sense of comfort while others (such as the odor of a hospital room) can induce a feeling of doom or panic. Indeed, inhalation remains one of the most popular methods for aromatherapy and essential oil administration. By simply inhaling or diffusing oils, an individual can create a personal space or environment that is calming, peaceful, and free of worries.

Inhalation can be particularly helpful for those suffering from insomnia, or for restless children as there is no need for application (care should be taken to select oils that are safe for this group). In any case, steps should be taken to ensure that one's sleep hygiene is looked after and properly maintained. This includes setting up a night-time routine, getting an adequate amount of sleep hours every night, and limiting the use of mobile phones and televisions before bedtime. Essential oils known for their sedative effects include Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Marjoram, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, and Clary Sage essential oils. Diffuse thirty minutes before bedtime to encourage a peaceful ambiance for a restful night of sleep.

Meditation or prayer is a practice that many individuals find useful for relaxation. Essential oils can enhance a meditative or spiritual session by helping one focus on the senses, thereby supporting mindfulness. They can also help ground the mind, soothe hyperactive mental states, eliminate worry, as well as provide a sense of perspective and gratitude. For a simple mindfulness practice with essential oils, diffuse the Still Mind blend (recipe below) in a quiet room and sit (on a chair or mat) in a comfortable but attentive position. Close your eyes and draw your attention towards the arising scent and take in any thoughts or memories that come to you. If any negative thoughts or feelings appear, simply acknowledge it, let it pass, and gently return your focus back to the scent. A few minutes of this simple awareness exercise can go a long way in reducing stress and calming an agitated mind.


Peaceful Dreams Diffuser Blend (For Difficulty Falling Asleep)

Marjoram Sweet Essential Oil 2 drops
Frankincense Essential Oil 3 drops
Orange Sweet Essential Oil 3 drops
Lavender Essential Oil 3 drops

Lullaby Diffuser Blend (For Children Who Are Stressed Or Anxious)

Lavender Essential Oil 3 drops
Geranium Essential Oil 1 drop
Frankincense Essential Oil 1 drop

Still Mind Diffuser Blend (For Prayer or Meditation)

Bergamot Essential Oil 5 drops
Lemon Essential Oil 5 drops
Clary Sage Essential Oil 3 drops
Ho Wood Essential Oil 1-2 drops

Instructions for Diffuser Blend Recipes: The aromatherapy recipes above can be used in a diffuser or vaporizer. To diffuse, add the specified essential oils into a 2 mL glass bottle, then roll the bottle between your palms to help blend all oils together. Depending on the manufacturer's instructions, add the appropriate number of drops to your diffuser and inhale. Modify the recipes as needed depending on your preferences and the size of your diffuser. If you do not have a diffuser, place a few drops on a cotton ball inside a small bowl, which can be placed on a coffee table or nightstand.




Aromatherapy baths and soaks can form a useful component of everyday relaxing rituals. A rejuvenating bath with warm water that incorporates essential oils and other nourishing botanicals acts as a way to cleanse and renew both the body and mind, fading away thoughts of fear or worry. Bathing rituals have been embraced by ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Romans, and the Greeks, and can be traced all the way back to 500 BC. The ancient Romans, for instance, set up lavish spa-like chambers called 'thermae' for bathing, relaxation, and socialization. These elegant constructions were adorned by huge steam baths, ancient saunas, and facilities for a massage with fragrant oils and reading. The Romans devoted a great amount of time to bathing as they believed it to be key for essential health and well-being.

Like ancient times, it can be useful to view a bath as valuable time to mentally de-stress, restore lost energy, and soothe one's spirit. A bath before bedtime can be an excellent way to separate oneself from daytime worries while preparing the mind for rest and sleep. Experiment with candles, bath salts, bath oils, masks, teas, and wines to add some variety to your bath time experience. For those with a lack of time, a simple foot soak (recipe given below) can also be used to create a relaxing spa-like experience at home.


Peaceful Lavender Bath

Lavender Essential Oil 3 drops
Bergamot Essential Oil 1 drop
Patchouli Essential Oil 1 drop
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil 1 drop
Apricot Kernel Carrier Oil 1-2 tsp.

Instructions: Draw a bath of warm water and mix the carrier oil and essential oils together before carefully pouring into the water. Soak for 20 minutes. Take care when getting out of the bath as the oils may cause the tub to be slippery; to avoid this, you may replace the carrier oil with 6 drops of Polysorbate 20. Apricot Kernel Carrier Oil can be substituted for Sweet Almond or Plum Kernel Carrier Oil.


Luxury Bubble Bath

Soap Flakes (or grated pure soap) 4 oz. / 113 g
Water 1 cup
Witch Hazel Distillate 1 tbsp.
Sweet Almond Carrier Oil 1 cup
Lavender Essential Oil 3-4 drops
Rose Geranium Essential Oil 3-4 drops

Instructions: In a heatproof container, bring the water to a gentle boil and toss in the soap flakes or grated soap. Allow it to melt. In a separate container, pour in the carrier oil and Witch Hazel Distillate. Cap before shaking vigorously. Carefully pour the melted soap into the second container and shake thoroughly once more. This will form your bubble bath base. To use, add 3-4 drops each of Lavender and Rose Geranium essential oils to about a tablespoon of this base before adding to bathwater.

SOURCE: Adapted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.


Citrus Foot Soak

Lemon Essential Oil 3 drops
Orange Bitter Essential Oil 3 drops
Eucalyptus Essential Oil 1 drop
Dead Sea Salt (Coarse) 2 tbsp.
Tea Leaves or Herbs (fresh or dried) (optional) 1-2 tbsp.

Instructions: Fill a sizeable basin with warm water and add in the Dead Sea Salt. Once dissolved, add in the essential oils followed by the tea leaves or herbs (Peppermint or Rosemary are good choices). Soak your feet in the basin for 15-20 minutes.






Learn more about:

The history of aromatherapy and how it can be used to promote wellness

Aromatherapy massage benefits, techniques, and safety tips

Massage oils and blends for stress relief




It is important to note that the information above is intended to be a resource for self-care and general relaxation and is not intended to treat any mental health conditions. A licensed mental health professional should be consulted for diagnosing or treating any mental disorder.

It is important to enjoy the benefits of essential oils while using them safely and responsibly. This includes never using them undiluted, performing a skin patch test prior to use, being knowledgeable about the sun's effects after use, and sourcing them from an ethical brand known for quality and purity.

External use only

As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, essential oils are for external use only. Essential oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes

Pregnancy and other health conditions

Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use essential oils without the medical advice of a physician.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy.

Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Children and safety

These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of seven.

How to conduct a skin patch test

Prior to using any essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.

Essential Oil side effects

Potential side effects of essential oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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