The 10 Best Calming Scents For Stress and Anxiety

Aromatherapy is a powerful, natural tool that can have a huge impact on our overall well-being.

Certain scents help us feel more alert and energized, while others promote relaxation and a sense of calm.

But today, I’ll be focusing on the latter, those all-important calming fragrances that relieve stress and anxiety and promote a good night’s sleep.

The Best Relaxing Scents to Relieve Stress And Anxiety

For thousands of years, people around the world have used aromatherapy to help them relax. And while some are still skeptical about its effectiveness, research shows that our ancestors were onto something. Many essential oils have been scientifically proven to decrease anxiety, lower stress levels, and encourage a good night’s sleep. So, in this post, we’ll look at 10 of these tried and tested scents so that you can reap the benefits for yourself.

1. Lavender

Lavender’s calming, sleep-inducing properties have been used for centuries. Even today, it’s the single most popular and readily available essential oil to help you unwind after a stressful day.

You can also take advantage of this plant’s relaxing aroma in dried form, too. Dried buds collected into a ‘lavender pillow’ creates a small sachet of soothing scent that you can gently inhale as you drift off to sleep.

Not only is lavender a powerful sleep and relaxation aid, but it’s also pretty affordable, too.

You can pick up the essential oil in most health food shops and pharmacies for just a few dollars, and the dried stems and buds are widely sold online. Plus, you can grow this herb yourself at home and reap the benefits of lavender for years to come. 

2. Cedarwood

The scent of cedarwood has a mild sedative effect proven to promote relaxation and help you fall asleep faster. As a result, it’s one of the most popular and effective essential oils to treat insomnia.

Cedarwood contains ‘cedrol,’ a naturally occurring compound that relaxes the nervous system, creating a soothing effect on both the body and the mind.

So, if a stressful day leaves you with tight shoulders, tension headaches, or insomnia, cedarwood oil could be your new secret weapon.

3. Jasmine

The sweet and floral scent of jasmine was a favorite of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who believed it eased tension and promoted relaxation.

And modern science backs their theory up. Jasmine has some pretty powerful properties, so powerful, in fact, that one study showed it was as effective as sleeping pills and tranquilizers at calming down mice. And since jasmine is a medicine of mother nature, it contains none of the harmful side effects that commonly come along with these prescription drugs.

4. Mugwort

Mugwort is one of the lesser-known essential oils on this list, but this sage-like plant has been used for thousands of years for its powerful medicinal and stress-relieving properties.

Studies show that mugwort relaxes the nervous system, reduces anxiety, and helps us fall asleep faster.

But even more interesting is the plant’s ability to cause vivid dreams. Most of the time, our dreams are strictly visual, but mugwort-enhanced dreams can also fire up other senses like sound, touch, and taste.

Plus, many people who use mugwort report an increase in lucid dreaming, an awareness of the dream state while still in the midst of a dream.

While mugwort is available as an essential oil, you can also use the dried herb as a ‘dream pillow’ or steep it in hot water for a soothing bedtime infusion.

5. Ylang Ylang

This tropical plant native to SouthEast Asia is a common ingredient in many perfumes and candles, and for a good reason. Ylang Ylang’s heady, rich aroma enhances mood, quiets a busy mind, and promotes a deep sense of relaxation.

Its soothing properties also relieve both physical and mental tension, decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, and reduce insomnia. Plus, research shows that ylang-ylang boosts circulation, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart health, making this multifaceted essential oil a fantastic tool for overall wellbeing.

6. Sweet Marjoram

Sweet marjoram has long been used in herbal medicine to treat conditions of the respiratory tract and soothe gastrointestinal upset.

But this rich, warm, and spicy aromatic plant also contains gentle calming properties that lower stress and anxiety and help to promote restful sleep.

Plus, sweet marjoram has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect, so it’s a good option for anyone struggling with insomnia due to chronic pain.

7. Rose

Rose oil is a powerful de-stressor that has long been used to promote relaxation, relieve depression and anxiety, and improve sleep.

The sweet and fragrant aroma helps to release nervous tension, leading to less physical stiffness and pain and a calmer, happier mind.

But beware; rose is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market, as it takes thousands of petals to create even a small bottle.

As a result, there are a lot of forgeries around, so be careful if you’re shopping online, and always buy from a reputable source. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to 100% pure rose oil, it’s often available blended with other essential oils at a more affordable price.

You can also harness the soothing benefits of roses by directly inhaling the aroma of the dried petals and buds or by steeping them in hot water to drink as tea.

8. Geranium

Geranium’s sweet and refreshing scent is widely used to treat depression and anxiety, boost feelings of well-being, and calm a busy mind.

Although the two flowers may look different, geranium has a similar scent profile to rose, making it a fantastic, cheaper alternative to expensive rose oil.

If you struggle with insomnia, then geranium is a particularly useful tool to incorporate into your aromatherapy arsenal. Its gentle sedative effect has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.

9. Bergamot

Bergamot essential oil is derived from the zest of the Italian bergamot orange, giving it an uplifting, sunny, and citrusy aroma.

The oil is widely used to reduce anxiety, aid relaxation, and tackle insomnia, but it’s also a powerful mood booster, too.

Chemical compounds within bergamot help to stimulate happiness hormones such as serotonin and dopamine while simultaneously relaxing the nervous system.

So, if the worries of the world are keeping you up at night, bergamot may help relieve your woes and drift off into a restful sleep.

10. Chamomile

There’s a reason why so many people drink a cup of chamomile tea before they go to bed. Research has shown that chamomile reduces stress and anxiety, alleviates tension, and improves sleep quality.

Both the raw plant and the essential oil also have gentle anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s a good natural alternative to pain killers for mild arthritis flare-ups and general stiffness and soreness in the body.

Chamomile is one of the most commonly used herbs, both in medicine and in aromatherapy, so it’s readily available both in dried form and as an essential oil. Plus, it’s relatively affordable, too.

How to Use Aromatherapy to Relieve Stress and Anxiety?

Now that you know the best scents help you relax and unwind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways to use them in your home and on the move.

1. Use an Oil Diffuser

Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser & Essential Oil Set

Diffusers work by breaking down the molecules in essential oils and dispersing them gently into the air.

There are various kinds of diffusers to choose from, including simple stick diffusers as well as high-tech electrical devices, which atomize aromas using heat or sound waves to create a stronger and more continuous mist of fragrance.

2. Create an Aromatherapy Mist

XBrand Aromatherapy Tabletop Mist Fountain

You can combine the essential oils above with neutral carrier oils or distilled water to create a room spray that disperses the beneficial scent properties around your home.

This produces a more subtle and temporary effect than an electric diffuser, but it’s a great option when you need a quick moment of calm amid the chaos.

Plus, if you opt for a small, compact spray bottle, you can take the benefits of aromatherapy with you on the move.

3. Sprinkle Essential Oils on Your Pillow

Sprinkle essential oils on your pillow

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, try sprinkling a few drops of essential oil onto your pillowcase (choose an old one that you don’t mind getting a little stained), so you can inhale the gentle aroma as you drift off to sleep.

This is a popular way to utilize the calming benefits of lavender oil, but you can use the same method with any of the essential oils listed above.

4. Add Essential Oils to a Bath

Add essential oils to a bath

Taking a bath before bed is a great way to de-stress, unwind, and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. But by adding a few drops of essential oils into the water, you can take your relaxing bath time to a whole new level.

5. Light a Scented Candle

Premium Bergamot & Jasmine Candle

You don’t have to use pure essential oils to get the stress-relieving benefits of aromatherapy. High-quality scented candles gently fill the room with soothing aromas, plus the warm and ambient glow creates a calm and cozy atmosphere that can help you relax.

6. Inhale Pure Essential Oil

Inhale pure essential oil

Inhaling the fragrance of essential oils directly from the bottle is one of the simplest, quickest, and most potent ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

Alternatively, you can also add a couple of drops to a diffuser necklace (a small terracotta pendant worn around the neck) for a soothing dose of calm any time of day, no matter where you are.

7. Apply Essential Oils Topically

Apply essential oils topically

Essential oils are super concentrated, so it’s generally not a good idea to apply them directly to the skin. But by blending a few drops in with your regular moisturizer or body oil, you can get the soothing aromatherapy benefits that will stay with you all day.

8. Create Your Own Unique Blend

Create your own unique blend

Essential oils don’t have to be used in isolation. You can mix several fragrances together to create the perfect relaxing blend with multifaceted benefits.


By harnessing the powerful effects of aromatherapy, we can feel less stressed and more relaxed and improve our quality of sleep in a big way.

So, if you’re struggling to switch off at night and you’re looking for a gentle, natural, and effective solution, then why not give one of these calming scents a try.

Sarah Wagner

I'm Sarah Wagner, and I founded Sweet Island Dreams in 2022. It's a blog dedicated to helping people mental vacation virtually anytime they want. By providing information about the best sleep of your life, I help people drift away to paradise without ever having to leave their bed!

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