Scents for Relaxation

It’s no secret that fragrances can have a powerful effect on our mind and body. Maybe a certain perfume or cologne brings on feelings of happiness because it reminds you of your significant other. Or maybe the smell of baby lotion brings back a flood of blissful, happy baby memories (or possibly a screaming infant!). We, as humans, link many memories and emotions with specific fragrances.

Essential oils have been used and studied over the years for their ability to help people relax, reduce anxiety, and sleep better. These naturally occurring, aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They have a wide range of physical and emotional wellness applications.

Below, we discuss a few of the most studied and effective essential oils. 


When inhaled, jasmine scent has been found to help people experience greater sleep efficiency, less movement during slumber, and overall better quality sleep. One study found that jasmine oil exhibits a calming effect and can act as a natural sedative by reducing heart rate and bringing on feelings of calm and relaxation.


For most people, the smell of vanilla evokes a sense of warmth and coziness. Research tells us that it can also help you to relax and feel happy, therefore, helping you to sleep better. In one study, people who smelled vanilla while completing a stress test had more stable heart rates and better blood pressure readings than those who took the stress test in an unscented room.


Valerian essential oil is one of the most studied oils in relation to sleep improvement. One study showed that valerian oil reduced sleep latency and wake time after sleep onset, for healthy adults in the home setting. Another study showed that rats who smelled valerian oil fell asleep faster and slept longer than those who didn’t. Additionally, valerian oil can also improve mood and reduce anxiety, which are often related to insomnia and other sleep disorders.


Many people appreciate the smell of lavender. Moreover, scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and reduce stress in people suffering from sleep disorders.

Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one study, people who received a massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received a massage without lavender.

Try it!

If using therapeutic grade essential oils, try diluting with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and rubbing directly onto your skin. You can also dilute the essential oil, rub in on your hands, and take deep breathes while inhaling the aroma. Other ways to enjoy oils include diffusing them in an oil diffuser or placing a few drops in your bath water.  

* It is important to note that essential oils aren’t for everyone. They are simply one option that has been found effective to help some people sleep better. Some people may be especially sensitive to their strong smells, which can lead to headaches or nausea. Pregnant women are also advised to discuss essential oils with their doctor before beginning use.



News Roundup: Stress Reduction

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Whether it’s over money or health problems, many Americans feel stressed out on a daily basis. Stress seems to be a normal part of life. Unfortunately, if it goes too long unchecked, it can get out of hand and lead to new or worsened health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are many free resources available for those who want to learn how to reduce stress levels.

This week’s news roundup brings to you a collection of articles and blog posts related to stress reduction.

Stress management. Mayo Clinic. “Without stress management, all too often your body is always on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems. Don't wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing a range of stress management techniques today.”

20 Scientifically Backed Ways to De-Stress Right Now. Huffington Post. “While just about any walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins (which, in turn, reduces stress hormones), consider walking in a park or other green space, which can actually put your body into a state of meditation, thanks to a phenomenon known as “involuntary attention” during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection.”

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Reduce Your Stress. “Countless studies prove the myriad health benefits of working out, including recent research that found strengthening your muscles releases enzymes that detoxify a substance called kynurenine, a byproduct of stress and inflammation.”

Four Ways to Deal with Stress. American Heart Association. “Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.”