We spend so much time thinking about aromatherapy as a cure-all for different diseases, we forget that many of them are made worse by stress and that often the best way to help someone heal is simply to give them space and opportunity to relax. In this article, we are going to think about the best oils for relaxation and some of the ways we can build them into our everyday lives. As always, we’ll make a list, then we’ll drill down into why each one is good, and then we’ll have a look at some relaxing essential oils blends.
What Are the Best Essential Oils for Sleep and Relaxation?
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Chamomile Essential Oil
- Geranium Essential Oil
- Rose Essential Oil
- Mandarin Essential Oil
- Melissa Essential Oil
- Frankincense Essential Oil
- Vetiver Essential Oil
- Valerian Essential Oil
- Yarrow Essential Oil
Lavender is always going to head up the best essential oils for relaxation for a simple reason that it is so very relaxing! It is calming and soothing and is a superb essential oil muscle relaxant. Wonderful for helping you sleep, you can use lavender essential oil safely in the bath or in massage oils creams, and lotions.
One of the greatest skills of aromatherapy is helping people to calm down very quickly. Often, though, it would be impractical to jump into a bathtub. If we’re stressed at work, for example, it's good practice to just practice grounding yourself using an essential oil.
Lavender is often also recommended for chronic pain, and inhaling an essential oil muscle relaxant can also do the trick without water too. Simply remove the lid from the bottle and gently inhale the vapors. Breathe slowly and deliberately in then out, allowing the essential oil molecules to get right down into your lungs. From there, they filter across into the bloodstream via capillaries in the walls of the lungs to circulate around the body. At the same time, volatiles are sent to our brain to quickly calm and relax.
Just be careful not to use lavender essential oil all the time. Lavender tells skin sensors not to make more of the oily substance that protects and nourishes the skin called sebum. If you use lavender essential oil too often, after a while your skin will start to dry out.
There are three different oils called chamomiles. These are Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile, also sometimes called blue chamomile, because the essential oil has a bluish hue (Chamomile Matricaria). Camomile Maroc or Moroccan chamomile is actually not a chamomile at all but is still gorgeously relaxing and safe to use. Its Latin name is Ormenis multicaulis.
Chamomile plants are known as Physician Plants in botany. Strangely, when they are planted alongside other species they make the rest of the border flourish. The chamomile essential oils work in the same way, never really taking center stage but preferring to bolster their friends and make them the stars.
There is a very definite feeling when you use a chamomile and this is one of the reasons they rank so high as the best essential oils for relaxation. Picture, if you will, a lovely tall daisy bobbing around in the wind on this long, slender, and delicate stem. Chamomiles dance in storms. It’s very hard to knock them down. That stalk of there is so resilient because it is flexible and chamomile essential oils pass that quality along in their healing. Somehow, they say “Ah well, however it turns out it will be fine by me.” Once you begin to embody this softer more flexible energy you tend to feel a lot more relaxed.
In England, they have a radio program called Desert Island Discs, where the guest each week has to pick a couple of objects and records that they would simply have to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.
For us, we’d need a bottle of Geranium essential oil. It is just so relaxing, is great for hormonal balance too, and is our favorite of all the essential oils for relaxing bath treatments. Fantastic for long-term stress, it never gets old, just calming you more every time you use it.
Something that is not often spoken about is how essential oils have a cumulative effect, which means the longer you use them, and the more often, the better they work.
Adding a drop of geranium essential oil to your bath each night is great practice. Lavender can be slightly problematic because after a while it will dry the skin, but geranium just keeps nourishing the skin, improving its condition while it calms your stress and helps you to sleep.
4. Rose Essential Oil
This is a bit of an expensive oil to just put in the bath on days when you are wound up, but sometimes we need more than just an average boos. Rose is one of the best essential oils for relaxation after some kind of trauma, or in times of emotional disturbance, or grief. There is nothing like it for healing a broken heart.
In terms of sleeping, science shows it has a hypnotic quality that helps us to fall to sleep earlier and to stay asleep longer.
Trials have also been done on the effects of putting a drop of rose essential oil on children’s pillows after they have had operations. They seem to perceive painlessness and be able to relax more.
Rose is also wonderful for hormonal balance so if your mood suffers at certain times of the month, it can be worth making the investment. Research also shows that not only does it help women’s hormonal support, but can also help to alleviate men’s sexual worries too
Sadly, one of the times we need to relax most is during pregnancy, but rose essential oil is a uterine tonic and should not be used until after the first 37 weeks of pregnancy have passed. That said, it is one of the best essential oils for relaxation during labor.
5. Mandarin Essential Oil
We have added mandarin to the list because most of the others are essential oils for relaxation and sleep, this one had a different quality. Instead of being sedative, mandarin is relaxing and uplifting which is why it is often found in blends for depression and in aphrodisiac blends.
It's almost like mandarin oil chatters and giggles. She has a lovely upbeat quality that is fantastic if you have had a bad day at work but you don’t want to take that out on the rest of the family.
Sniff mandarin essential oil and it's like you have pushed a golden key into a door to a whole different you; friendly, sociable, and relaxed.
Another one that can be a bit expensive, and so is probably not for everyday use. However, melissa essential oil is wonderful for relaxing people who have dementia. Specially blended with lavender, it can help reduce their agitation and confusion and help them to sleep better.
Really, one drop on a damp face cloth for them to inhale, or perhaps used in a lotion to do a relaxing hand massage is best. This is a great essential oil to use to relax someone without too much intervention.
Frankincense slows the breath and is deeply relaxing. It is often used in churches, temples, and synagogues as a means of helping people to feel closer to the divine. There is a tranquility to frankincense which means it is not your everyday relaxer, but it is one of the best essential oils for meditation. It quietens the mind and encourages introspection.
Frankincense is also one of the best oils for relaxation if someone suffers from stress-related asthma or panic attacks. Not only does it calm and comfort but it also opens the airways making it easier to breathe.
Deep, deep, deep relaxation. Vetiver is tranquility itself. Imagine how vetiver's roots go deep into the earth, each measuring around 8m long and plunging vertically into the ground. In many countries, Vetiver is now being used to prevent soil erosion because the plant anchors everything so firmly.
This is a great essential oil to choose if you have the sense of “Stop the world, I want to get off” It is slowing and grounding. If someone is racing to get too much done, feels they don’t have time to stop, or cannot get out of their heads, Vetiver will soon put that right.
It’s one of the best essential oils for relaxation for sex. It brings the energy down into the body, away from the head. If you tend to have negative thoughts that get in the way, you could also try blending with cedarwood essential oil.
Again, this is an oil you can use as much of as you like. It is a highly sustainable resource with plenty of FairTrade investments going into incredibly poor communities in Haiti where much of it grows. Add that to the fact it will continue to nourish and protect your skin as well as work as an essential oil muscle relaxant and you have a champion ingredient!
9. Valerian Essential Oil
Now if Valerian essential oil didn’t smell like a pair of socks that even the filthiest tramp could no longer bear the smell of, it would hold the pole position of the best essential oils for relaxation. Unluckily, for Valerian though, that is its fate. Some of the constituents in this oil work on the same receptors as benzodiazepines do, making you slow, floppy, and very listless.
This is a mega tranquilizer. But whilst it is one of the best essential oils for sleep and relaxation we would rarely need to use it for stress generally. If someone has endured trauma or shock or is fearful though this is a great oil to use to switch the lights off. It is one of the best essential oils for anxiety.
It’s virtually impossible to stay alert when you have used this one. Another one of the best essential oils for relaxation is Spikenard essential oil, which also works fast when someone is petrified. Despite being one of the best essential oils for relaxation, spikenard did not make it on our list as it teeters on the edge of being an endangered species so we would rather it was only used for really dire emergencies.
So is Valerian one of the best essential oils for relaxation massage oils? We’re not sure you want the tramp's feet in the bedroom, really, but if you add it to your bath, or even put it on your own feet and cover them with socks, it will have a tremendous effect.
One of valerian's redeeming creatures is that it does blend very well with some of the other best essential oils for relaxation. Valerian and mandarin are a rather lovely relaxing essential oils blend, as are valerian, geranium, and lavender.
10. Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow is so, so, serene. It must be something to do with the blue azulene constituents. They are so gentle they almost feel holy. There is certainly something very sacred about how yarrow heals It has a tender touch that is hopeful and restorative.
Yarrow is potentially not an oil you want to put in your bath, or use alone in fact, not least because it is so expensive, but it is tremendous for adding to relaxing essential oil blends.
DIY Relaxing Essential Oil Blend Recipe
Essential Oil Muscle Relaxant Massage Oil
- 10ml Grapeseed Carrier Oil (Vitis Vinifera)
- 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 2 drops Juniper Essential Oil (Communis juniperus)
- 2 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil (Anthemis nobilis)
Method of use: A lovely blend for using as a back massage blend for aches and pains
Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Sometimes the best essential oils for relaxation aren’t necessarily saved for luxurious baths or pampering massages, they are best used daily, as a way to anchor yourself in the here and now for a calmer happier life.