Essential Oils That Support Your Emotional Well-Being
The material in this post is for informational/educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Essential oils are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
Essential oils have all kinds of uses. Just doing a quick Google search for essential oil recipes leads me to believe that the DIY possibilities are endless.
But can essential oils help us on a deeper level?
Sitting in front of me on my desk is an essential oil blend called ‘Joy’. It’s currently one of my favorite blends to diffuse.
But is this little bottle exaggerating its abilities? Can essential oils really support us on an emotional level and improve our well-being?
The short answer is yes.
But obviously you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, so I’ll give you two reasons behind this answer. One is what I would call ‘scientific’, the other not so much. Then, I’ll tell you about 6 of the best oils to use for emotional well-being and support.
The Scientific Answer
There is research currently being done on whether essential oils can affect our emotional state of being and how it works. So far, the answer seems to lie in aromatherapy and how our sense of smell is connected to our brains.
Our sense of smell (also called olfaction) is linked to our emotions through the limbic system in our brains. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two parts of the limbic system that are especially connected to emotion, memory, and emotional memories.
Along with a few other parts of the limbic system, the amygdala and hippocampus are involved in most emotional processes. (1)
When we smell an essential oil- directly or through diffusion- the molecules travel quickly through the blood-brain barrier and connect with the emotional center of our brains (the limbic system). (2) The effect they have depends a lot on which oil is being used, any good or bad memories associated with that smell, and each person’s chemical makeup.
But there is very definitely a connection between aromatherapy using essential oils and improved emotional support and well-being. The essential oils send signals to our brains that can be calming, energizing, and helpful for releasing stored emotion.
That’s the shortened version of how all this works. For a more in-depth look at the limbic system and its connection to our emotions, check out this article.
The Un-Scientific Answer
The other reason I firmly believe essential oils can help support our emotional well-being is because I’ve experienced it. I spend a lot of time doing my research to try and figure out what’s true and what’s not. But there’s no real substitute for trying something out.
If we think about it, we already have some indicators that our sense of smell can influence our emotional state. Certain smells remind us of good or bad events and memories. Smelling our favorite scent can put us in a better mood.
My first experience of using essentials oil for the emotions was not even on myself. My mom was having a really bad morning- upset, stressed, etc. I had just read something about citrus oils being uplifting, so I opened my bottle of Lemon essential oil and held it under her nose.
And it worked! She had no expectations about the Lemon oil (and she was kind of wondering why I was shoving a bottle under her nose). But she felt almost immediately better.
I’ve since been using oils to support my own emotional well-being. And though I still haven’t found an oil that makes my chihuahua less grumpy, here are 6 of the best oils to try for your emotions.
If I had to pick one of the essential oils that’s the all-around best support for emotional well-being, it would probably be Frankincense. Frankincense has been used for thousands of years as part of meditation and other spiritual practices.
It has a very earthy or woodsy fragrance. I loved it from the start, but others have said they needed to adjust to its unique fragrance. Frankincense essential oil has a very calming and grounding effect while at the same time uplifting your mood. Many use it to feel more spiritually and emotionally connected.
Ways to use: Frankincense oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle or diffused. You can put 1-2 drops on the inside of your wrists and inhale the fragrance, or place it on your forehead or over your heart. Try diffusing Frankincense while doing yoga or meditating for a deeper practice.
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#2- Citrus Oils
Technically this is more like a category than a specific oil, but I couldn’t pick just one citrus oil. Citrus oils, for me, have the most uplifting effect on my mood out of all the oils.
Orange essential oil has a sweet and uplifting fragrance. It can lift your mood and brings a sense of harmony and creativity. Lemon essential oil has a very clean, bright, and refreshing aroma. Use it to bring a more cheerful mood in and to ‘clear the air.’
Bergamot essential oil has a fresh citrus aroma that is also slightly floral. (Earl Grey tea, anyone?) It’s a great calming and mood-lifting oil to use, especially when you are feeling anxious.
Ways to use: Diffusing is probably the best way to get the aromatherapy benefits of citrus. Cinnamon, Clove, and Orange make a spicy and citrusy fall blend. You can also mix with a carrier oil and apply as ‘perfume’– just know that all citrus oils, especially Bergamot, can cause sun sensitivity.
Peppermint is one of my favorite essential oils because it has so many uses. While Frankincense and citrus oils are uplifting and calming, peppermint has a more energizing and stimulating effect.
The scent of Peppermint is very invigorating and refreshing (and sometimes intense). It’s a good oil to use if you feel lethargic or are lacking motivation and focus.
Ways to use: Diffuse Peppermint whenever you need energized, if you want to concentrate on something, or to help you wake up in the morning.
#4- Clary Sage
Clary Sage is another oil that can help relieve feelings of stress and calm your nerves. It has a very strong and herbaceous fragrance.
Clary Sage has historically been used for many issues related to women’s health and can provide emotional support and calming for women in particular.
Ways to use: Diffuse to relieve stress and to calm your emotions.
Cedarwood essential oil is another one that can help with stress, tension, and even sleep. This oil has been in use for thousands of years. The Egyptians used it for embalming the dead (but don’t let that put you off).
Cedarwood has a woodsy fragrance. It has a grounding, relaxing, and comforting effect and can help combat negativity. Cedarwood can also help with focus.
Ways to use: Diffuse Cedarwood when you want to feel quiet, calm, and focused– maybe during yoga or when you need to study. Many people also love to diffuse Cedarwood before bedtime because of its relaxing and sleep-promoting effect.
Rose essential oil is one of the most valuable (and expensive) oils out there. Its fragrance is intoxicating and very sweet and rich. Rose oil can be considered an aphrodisiac.
Rose is one of the best oils for stress and can bring out feelings of balance, harmony, and lightness of spirit. It’s also one of the best oils for times of grief.
Ways to use: Because pure Rose essential oil is so expensive, try looking for an oil blend that has Rose in it. The essential oil blend I mentioned at the beginning of the post- Joy– has Rose oil in it, and I diffuse it when I’m highly stressed.
Find Your Best Oils
This post could have gone on much longer listing all the oils that can provide emotional support.
For example, Lavender is another calming and balancing oil. Sandalwood is often used for spiritual and emotional applications and can bring about a sense of peace. Ylang Ylang can help with anger and negative energy.
But the most important thing is to find which essential oils help support your emotional well-being the most. Everyone reacts to oils differently and can have different memories associated with different smells.
As an example, citrus oils are uplifting but if you have some kind of negative memory attached to the smell of citrus, its effect will probably not be uplifting for you.
So take a little time and do some experimenting to find out for yourself whether essential oils can support your emotional well-being and which ones are the most helpful for you. (And check out these ways to get the most out of essential oils.)
Other Sources: Essential Oils Desk Reference: Seventh Edition. Published by Life Science. Copyright November 2016. (Pages 1-2)