Wellbeing Week: Aromatherapy and anxiety


As part of Wellbeing Week, we're looking at the anxiety-relieving benefits of essential oils with Glasgow aromatherapy experts, The Divine Hag.


Anxiety can manifest in many ways. This article deals with three of these manifestations and suggests strategies involving essential oils which may be helpful in dealing with the management of these manifestations.


Exam anxiety

The reason for this is obvious. However, being paralysed by being anxious disables the ability to continue to study and to actually answer the exam questions, in whatever form they come.

The best essential oils to deal with this are Peppermint and Rosemary, both of which have been shown to increase short-term memory retention and concentration (fantastic if you need to do a bit of cramming).

Peppermint oil has traditionally been used to settle bad tummies and for nausea – a common manifestation of exam anxiety. The menthol is said to help muscles relax which in turn eases stress. It is known to increase alertness, however as with all other essential oils it requires balance and is best mixed with Rosemary. Both have fairly astringent fresh fragrances and work well together. Rosemary has been shown to improve alertness and enhance concentration and is said to reduce the level of stress hormones.

In addition to these, Lemon calms and has been shown in recent studies to increase concentration. Studies have shown that Lemon essential oil is a powerful stress reliever.

The mix of Peppermint, Rosemary and Lemon is a powerful concentration and stress reducing tool. In order to use, either add to a spray bottle filled with water and use as a mist in the air, or use as a mix added to a diffuser or oil burner.

It’s best to experiment personally in order to find the mix best suited to your temperament, but a good initial mix would be six drops each of Peppermint and Rosemary and four of Lemon. This can then be experimented with in order to get the best mix for yourself.

Room spray


Sleep anxiety

This is very common. Your brain is whirring, your heart is racing and you just cannot settle. Either you can’t get to sleep or, once asleep, keep waking.

Common thought is that Lavender essential oil should be used for sleeplessness and sleep-related anxiety. However, Lavender is a very volatile oil which can actually cause wakefulness. It can also trigger migraines and cause asthmatics to become wheezy and so should be used with a degree of caution.

Lavender when used alone can cause excessive dreaming and nightmares, and in the morning you may wake feeling very unrested and a little hungover.

Much better, then, to mix yourself a gentle blend of deep-relaxing oils which can be used as a pillow spray, and used in conjunction with other methods to create a sleep-time ritual which can help relieve these anxious feelings.

I would suggest to try some herbal teas such as Chamomile or Valerian, both of which can relax and ease and are good when used at bedtime.

Do your best to establish a routine and invest in a sleep mask as this is not only invaluable in helping you get off to sleep but will shut out fluctuations in light and can help you stay asleep. So, in short, do your best to establish a routine, be gentle on yourself and use relaxing essential oils such as Rose, Geranium and a touch of Rosemary for balance.

Rose essential oil aids relaxation, and is known to ease anxiety and stress. It has also been shown in some studies to improve the quality of sleep. This oil comes from many regions, so it is best to sample a few and choose the one which appeals the most.

Geranium has similar qualities and is said to reduce the feeling of fatigue (we all recognise that feeling of being overtired). Rosemary is described above - its restful qualities, and qualities which aid concentration, mean it partners well with these oils, and its more woody fragrance helps to balance these more floral scents. (You may add a little Lavender if it is a favourite, it just shouldn’t be the only ingredient).

For a pillow spray, add water to a spray bottle and mix eight drops each of Rose and Geranium with four of Rosemary and two of Lavender, then spray on to a tissue for the first few nights before using as a pillow spray. This same mix can be used in a diffuser.


General anxiety

This can strike at any time. It is so hard to deal with as it can appear that there is no rhyme or reason why we should be anxious. This is not only almost impossible to explain but is difficult to manage as it can strike from nowhere – it can also be difficult for others to understand.

Any of the essential oils mentioned above can be used in a situation of general anxiety.This has been placed last, not because it isn’t important, but because it can be exacerbated by the above two forms and if these are controlled then the incidence of general anxiety should hopefully be easier to manage.

In addition to these another floral Ylang Ylang is helpful and aromatic.

If you can, have a little experiment with these oils and see what appeals and what makes you feel calmer.Then, either make a spray which you can spritz in the air or spray on a tissue and inhale.


Please note

  • Essential oils should never be taken internally. Do not drink or swallow these substances
  • If applying to the skin always do a patch test first on a small area and if any irritation occurs stop using immediately
  • If any other symptoms occur (e.g. wheezing) stop using immediately


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