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Best Essential Oils for Stress Relief

Updated April 2023
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Best of the Best
ArtNaturals Aromatherapy Top-6 Essential Oil Set
Aromatherapy Top-6 Essential Oil Set
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Most Comprehensive
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Relax after a long day with this comprehensive set.


Set includes 6 essential oils, including calming lavender, cleansing tea tree, mood-boosting sweet orange, soothing eucalyptus, and stress-fighting peppermint. Certified vegan and cruelty-free. Non-GMO formula. Add to diffuser or bathwater for relief.


Some users struggled to remove the caps.

Best Bang for the Buck
Aura Cacia Chill Pill Relaxing Roll-On
Aura Cacia
Chill Pill Relaxing Roll-On
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Portable Option
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A compact and convenient roll-on blend that provides relief on the go.


A pre-blended, roll-on formula that is ready to use. Combines several quality essential oils for a citrusy, herbal aroma that is soothing and peaceful. Easy application with convenient roll-on design. 100% pure essential oils. Cruelty-free.


Some wish it were a bit stronger.

NOW Essential Oils Peace and Harmony Calming Blend
NOW Essential Oils
Peace and Harmony Calming Blend
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Balanced Mix
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Ideal for those who want the calming effects of patchouli oil but live or work with people who hate the smell.


Scores big for its perfect balance of 5 oils with calming properties. Can be added to a diffuser, mixed in a spray bottle with water, or applied directly to skin. Bonus points for the bottle's large size.


Some say the scent of patchouli is still too noticeable.

NOW Essential Oils Let There Be Peace & Quiet Relaxing Essential Oils Kit
NOW Essential Oils
Let There Be Peace & Quiet Relaxing Essential Oils Kit
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Soothing Option
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A highly versatile kit with 4 oils that will calm the mind and relieve stress.


Includes 4 popular oils that promote peace and tranquility. Pure, undiluted oils. A highly versatile set that can be blended, diffused, applied topically, and more. Includes a proprietary blend specially formulated for sleep.


Must be diluted if applied topically.

Asutra Premium Aromatherapy Mist
Premium Aromatherapy Mist
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Calming Spray
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Easiest way to spread calm in a room or to calm yourself—just spray and smell.


The ultimate time saver—premixed with water so there’s no need to fill a diffuser with water. Doesn’t leave furniture or clothes wet. Oil enthusiasts note the unique addition of chamomile to the recipe.


Some wish that the scent lingered longer.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best essential oils for stress relief

When life gets you down or the day is a rough one, you might be tempted to reach for a glass of wine or a sugary-sweet treat to lift your spirits and soothe your frazzled nerves. But there’s another option, and it’s one without hangovers or calories: essential oils for stress relief.

Essential oils, which are sourced from a wide range of plant materials, have been used for thousands of years to treat just about every mental and physical malady. These fragrant oils are an effective and easy way to relieve stress, but there are a lot of them on the market. How do you choose the best essential oil for a calmer you?

At BestReviews, making the best shopping decisions is easy with our recommendations and shopping guides. For everything you need to know about choosing and using the most effective essential oils to relieve stress and improve your mood, simply keep reading.

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A few sniffs of your favorite essential oil for stress relief is an effective and easy way to lift your mood, relieve tension, and encourage deep sleep.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are very concentrated oils distilled from the leaves, flowers, seeds, stems, or roots of a plant. Most often, water or steam is used to distill the oil, which maintains the healing qualities and characteristics, along with the fragrance, of the original plant.

The use of these fragrant oils to treat health conditions, improve mood, and relieve stress is called aromatherapy. While generally considered a branch of alternative medicine, aromatherapy has been around for many thousands of years, used by many different cultures around the world.

How does aromatherapy work?

Aromatherapy, as the name suggests, largely works via the aroma of the essential oils, which travels from the nose to the brain, where the fragrance stimulates the limbic system. This part of the brain is linked to emotions and memory and also to physical functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and hormonal balance. Thus, by stimulating the limbic system, essential oils can produce subtle effects throughout the body.

Another common way to use essential oils is topically, which means applying them to the skin. The oil is absorbed through the skin and relieves symptoms at the site of application, such as an oil rubbed into the hands to relieve arthritis pain.

Finally, some essential oils can be ingested, but this should be avoided unless a qualified aromatherapy practitioner gives you specific instructions to do so.

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Did you know?
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of emotional and physical concerns.

What are the best essential oils for stress relief?

There are many essential oils that help relieve stress and its various manifestations, such as insomnia. While you can use a single essential oil with excellent results, it’s very common for several oils to be combined in a stress-relief formula. This lets the various oils intensify each other’s effects, creating a more potent product.

The following essential oils are some of the most common for stress relief. You’ll find them individually and in various stress-relief blends.

  • Lavender is one of the most common essential oils used to relieve stress, treat insomnia, and reduce anxiety. It’s also the essential oil with the most research showing positive effects.

  • Jasmine, with its sweet, flowery fragrance, helps lull you to sleep while relieving your anxious thoughts.

  • Bergamot, which is a citrus fruit, has been shown in several studies to help relieve mild anxiety and depression.

  • Ylang ylang is a tropical flower. Its essential oil calms the nervous system and makes you feel more at ease.

  • Cedarwood oil, with its strong woodsy scent, helps focus your mind, relieve stress, and calm you down.

  • Grapefruit essential oil is excellent at perking you up, relieving tension headaches, and improving your mood.

  • Sweet marjoram helps induce sleep, relax the body, and chase away the blues.

  • Chamomile has quite a bit of research proving its effectiveness at calming your mind enough to fall asleep. While often drunk as a tea, you can get the same benefits by inhaling or applying chamomile essential oil.

  • Vanilla essential oil – this is not the same as the vanilla extract you use for cooking – is a powerful sedative and mood improver.

  • Valerian is another plant with plenty of research showing its effectiveness at inducing sleep, relieving anxiety, and improving mood. Its fragrance is strong and unpleasant, however, so it’s usually mixed with better-smelling essential oils.

  • Sandalwood has an exotic and powerful fragrance that helps soothe your nerves enough to fall asleep.

  • Lemongrass reduces anxiety quickly and effectively.

  • Clary sage is especially good for relieving moodiness and insomnia caused by PMS or hormonal swings.

Choosing essential oils for stress relief

There are a lot of inferior essential oils on the market. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. It takes many pounds of plant material to produce just one ounce of essential oil, so cut-rate prices often indicate equally low-quality ingredients.

The bottle of essential oil should be labeled not just with the common name of the plant but also with its botanical name. And it’s even better if the bottle indicates where the plant came from, the type of distilling method used to concentrate the oil, and the expiration date.

While there are few regulations on essential oil production, look for organic brands that say they are therapeutic, which implies the oil is pure and was carefully distilled.

Never buy perfume oil or synthetic oils for use in aromatherapy. Good essential oils are 100% pure.

Typically, essential oils are sold in brown glass bottles, which help prevent light from damaging the oil. Most of these bottles have a plastic dispenser top, not a rubber squeeze bulb.

If you buy an essential oil blend for stress relief, make sure the bottle’s label identifies all the different oils.

Ways to use essential oils for stress relief

There are several ways to use your essential oils. The easiest way is simply to open the bottle and take a few sniffs. You’ll feel soothed right away.

For prolonged exposure to the healing fragrance, use a diffuser to vaporize the oil. Essential oil diffusers often have additional features, such as a cool mist or colorful and changing light patterns.

If you want to apply the essential oil directly to your skin, or use it to massage sore muscles, you’ll first need to dilute the aromatherapy oil in a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation. Carrier oils are neutral oils that dilute the essential oil enough to prevent skin reactions. Common carrier oils are coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil. Add 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil to a tablespoon of your carrier oil.

If you don’t have a diffuser, you can use steam for a similar effect. Boil two cups of water, pour it into a bowl, add a few drops of your essential oils, and then cover your head with a towel while leaning over the bowl to inhale the fragrant steam.

For a relaxing bath, add several drops of your relaxing essential oils to warm bathwater, and let the fragrant waters ease your worries away.

Create an essential oil spray by adding a few drops to a small bottle of purified water.

Or moisten a cotton ball, piece of cotton fabric, or even a paper towel with a few drops of your favorite oils, and then keep the essential oil-soaked item near your bed, desk, bath, or wherever you want to relax.

Prices for essential oils for stress relief

The prices of essential oils can vary quite a bit, depending on the plant. However, as a general rule, you’ll pay around $10 to $15 per bottle for a small bottle of a good-quality essential oil. Watch out for oils costing under $5; these are sometimes synthetic or lower-grade oils.

Many essential oil manufacturers sell kits of commonly used oils, and if you intend to use a variety of oils to treat stress and other ailments, this is often the most economical way to buy essential oils.

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Essential oils are extremely concentrated. Producing a one-ounce bottle of rose oil, for example, requires nearly five pounds of rose petals.


Q. Does aromatherapy really work?

A. Unfortunately, there have been no large-scale studies of the effectiveness of aromatherapy. However, many small studies have been done in countries around the world, and while results are mixed, a lot of research has shown very positive results for many essential oil treatments.

Q. Does the FDA regulate essential oils?

A. No, the FDA does not regulate essential oils. That’s why it pays to only purchase oils from well-known, reputable brands that grow or obtain the highest-quality plant material, distill it under tightly controlled conditions, and label their products accurately and completely.

Q. What’s the best way to store my essential oils?

A. Like most plant-based oils, aromatherapy oils lose potency, fragrance, and color if stored improperly. Keep your essential oils away from high heat and humidity. The bathroom cabinet is not a good place for essential oils. A cool, dark cupboard or drawer is a much better storage spot.

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