The 7 Top Smells That Ease Stress Fast

essential oil orangeYou’re stressed to the max and at risk of serious burnout. It’s too late to exercise and while a few glasses of wine or a pint of ice cream will help you feel better now, you know you’ll only regret it later.

What if there was a better option — something that works to relieve stress fast without any lingering side effects (like a hangover or weight gain)?

This is where a bottle of carefully selected essential oil can be invaluable. Put a few drops in a diffuser or, in a pinch, onto a cotton ball, and you’ll feel your stress begin to melt away, thanks to the power of aromatherapy. You can even sniff it right out of the bottle, blend it into a massage oil or spritz it around your room like a natural air freshener.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, really, but I’ll warn you that once you get the “aromatherapy bug,” you won’t want to be without your favorite scents. And speaking of scents, certain aromas work better than others to ease feelings of stress.

7 Top Stress-Relieving Scents

1. Lavender

Lavender has traditionally been used to help treat anxiety and is known for its soothing properties. In one study, lavender aromatherapy provided a significant decrease and stress levels and even significantly reduced the pain intensity of needle insertion.[i]

In separate research, mothers bathing their very young infants with lavender bath oil were more relaxed and smiled more during the bath, while infants cried less and spent more time in deep sleep after the bath.

Analysis showed the cortisol (stress hormone) levels of mothers and infants significantly decreased when using the lavender bath oil, “showing increased relaxation of the mothers and their infants.”[ii]

2. Sweet Orange and Mandarin

Various citrus essential oils show anxiety-relieving effects. People who inhaled the aroma from 2.5 or 10 drops of sweet orange essential oil, for instance, reported significant reductions in tension and anxiety and increases in tranquility.[iii]

Mandarin oil is also traditionally used to reduce stress and promote restful sleep. Massage therapists and acupuncturists at the Mayo Clinic also used mandarin essential oil as part of their therapy, and note that patients report reduced stress as a result.[iv]

3. Geranium

Anxiety, stress and tension disappear when the sweet, floral aroma of geranium enters the room. Even women in the first stage of labor reported significantly reduced anxiety after inhaling the aroma of geranium essential oil.[v]

4. Patchouli

The sweet, musky aroma of patchouli is excellent for reducing anxiety and stress. According to a review published in the journal Molecules, “In aromatherapy, patchouli oil is used to relieve depression, stress, calm nerves, control appetite and to improve sexual interest.”[vi]

5. Roman Chamomile

Many are familiar with the soothing effects of chamomile when sipped as a tea just before bed. The essential oil is equally soothing, and as noted by Edens Garden aromatherapy:

“Diffusing drops of Roman Chamomile is to invite serenity and wholeness into a space. It can have a relaxing and wonderfully calming effect on both the body and the mind.”

6. Bergamot

Bergamot essential oil is often used in aromatherapy to treat psychological stress and anxiety. Research shows, in fact, that inhaling bergamot essential oil with water vapor leads to beneficial psychological and physiological effects in a relatively short time.[vii]

7. Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang has an intoxicating flowery aroma known for relaxing your body and boosting your emotional state. People who used ylang ylang essential oil on their skin reported greater feelings of calm and relaxation, with researchers noting the results “provide some evidence for the usage of the ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy such as causing a relief of depression and stress in humans.”[viii]

Separate research also showed inhaling the aroma of ylang ylang essential oil caused significant decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate along with significant increases in attentiveness. That study concluded “ylang-ylang oil may be characterized by the concept of “harmonization” rather than relaxation/sedation”[ix] – either way, it’s good.

Essential Oil Blends to Take Your Stress Away

Why use just one essential oil when you can use several? By blending the oils, the effects are magnified and the synergy between the ingredients can lead to even greater outcomes.

For instance, when volunteers with high blood pressure inhaled the aroma of lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot once daily for four weeks, they had reductions in psychological stress responses, cortisol levels and blood pressure.[x]

If you want to try it out for yourself, Edens Garden has several synergy blends to help you get your calm on. Try one or try them all, then let us know which one is your favorite:


[i] J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Sep;17(9):823-6.

[ii] Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun;84(6):399-401.

[iii] J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Aug;18(8):798-804.

[iv] Prevention August 8, 2012

[v] J Caring Sci. 2015 Jun 1;4(2):135-41.

[vi] Molecules. 2015 May 12;20(5):8521-47.

[vii] Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(1):43-9.

[viii] Phytother Res. 2006 Sep;20(9):758-63.

[ix] Planta Med. 2004 Jul;70(7):632-6.

[x] Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Dec;36(7):1123-34.

Filed Under: Stress
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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1 thought on “The 7 Top Smells That Ease Stress Fast”

  1. Maria Matthews says:

    Please remember to NEVER apply undiluted oil to the skin.
    Also, No matter how efficacious an oil may be, if you don’t like the smell then it will not be of any benefit.

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