6 calming essential oils to help you feel less stressed

Stress getting the better of you? Here are the essential oils our experts recommend to help you dial it down and feel more relaxed.

Stress can take a toll on our wellbeing – whether we’re struggling with the cumulative effect of microstress or a lingering sense of worry – learning how to manage it is vital.

While there are different strategies to ease the strain, experts say aromatherapy may be useful in helping to calm our emotions, promote relaxation, and reduce feelings of stress.

The role of essential oils in relieving stress

Essential oils offer more than just their fragrance.

Studies show these botanicals may help balance emotions and relieve stress in children, and may significantly reduce stress in older adults.

Wellness trainer and mindset specialist Heidi Horne says it’s important, however, to remember that essential oils aren’t the only piece of the puzzle.

“If anything, it (aromatherapy) serves as a complement rather than the sole solution that will resolve the issue or situation for you,” Heidi says.

She says using essential oils together with meditation or other forms of mindfulness practice helps you disconnect from work and allows you to “switch off” before bed, which may help lower your stress levels.

“If the issue persists and becomes more significant, it is advisable to seek guidance from a specialist for ongoing support,” Heidi says.

6 essential oils for stress relief


“There have been numerous studies indicating that bergamot can assist in reducing anxiety and stress whilst also providing a mood-lifting effect,” aromatherapist Natalie Miller says.

A study conducted in Taiwan during Covid-19 showed bergamot essential oil relieved work stress in nurses, while a US study suggests inhaling it may boost positive feelings and mental wellbeing.


Research shows this popular essential oil reduces stress levels in humans and in dogs.

Melbourne holistic veterinarian Dr Nicole Rous says this is likely because of the chemical constituents found in lavender, including linalool and linalyl acetate.

“Essential oils are inhaled and go straight to the brain in pets the same way they do humans,” Dr Rous says.

“Cats have a slightly different liver metabolism… so we’re a little more careful using essential oils, especially with dilution rates and frequency,” she says.

But, Dr Rous adds, horses have shown a great response too.


Woody, sweet and a little spicy, patchouli is known to promote relaxation by calming the sympathetic nervous system.

A study published in 2020 shows emergency nurses who inhaled patchouli oil had significantly lower stress levels than nurses in the control group.


Heidi says rose oil is highly regarded for its therapeutic properties.

“It is used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and uplift mood,” she says.

A recent Iranian study found nurses who were exposed to the fragrance of rose essential oils for two hours a day over four weeks had less work-related stress, and they reported reduced reliance on medication for stress relief.

Sweet orange

Fresh and fruity, sweet orange oil is an uplifting essential oil that helps to relieve both stress and anxiety.

“This (sweet orange) is a ‘happy oil’ – you can’t help but smile when you smell it,” Natalie says.

Ylang ylang

Highly aromatic, floral and refreshing, ylang ylang gives a sense of grounding, Heidi says.

It’s known to boost mood, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce anxiety.

How to use essential oils for stress relief

“The simplest and easiest way is to place a drop or two on a tissue, and inhale the aroma when you start to feel stress levels rising,” Natalie says.

Alternatively, you can make your own essential oil roll-on.

Using a small roller bottle, top a carrier oil – such as fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil or avocado oil – with a couple of drops of your chosen essential oil, Natalie suggests.

Heidi recommends rubbing the diluted oils on pulse points such as your wrists, temples or the back of your neck.

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Written by Melissa Hong.