The Best Calming Scents to Help You Unwind When You're Stressed
Use these aromas around your home to naturally reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Your sense of smell has powerful effects on your body. Certain aromas can trigger pleasant memories and even relieve stress to help you feel more relaxed. "In general, herbal fragrances like lavender and rosemary, and a fresh floral fragrance like ylang ylang, are shown to reduce cortisol levels, promote calm, and reduce stress," says Lauren Lamagna, director of product at Homesick candles. So if you've been feeling stressed lately, try infusing your home with natural scents. You can practice aromatherapy in a variety of ways, such as by lighting candles or diffusing essential oils. Consider using these expert-recommended calming scents to relax and unwind at home.
You might think of this herb as just an ingredient in your favorite Italian dishes, but basil can also be used as an oil or fragrance to encourage relaxation. "Basil, which is less commonly used but is one of the most beneficial [essential oils], reduces anxiety, stress, and fatigue while promoting a feeling of positivity," says Dara Weiss, founder and CEO of the scented candle brand L'or de Seraphine. The herb has a crisp, slightly spicy aroma that can energize while relieving stress.
If you've ever sipped a cup of Earl Grey tea, you're familiar with this distinctive, citrusy scent. Commonly grown in the Mediterranean, bergamot is an inedible citrus fruit that is roughly the size of an orange with the color of a lime. The fragrant oil, which is derived from the fruit’s rind, "enhances energy and feelings of joy while helping to regulate hormones and stress levels," Weiss says. She suggests using bergamot-scented candles or oils in the morning when you want to de-stress without getting sleepy.
Native to the Mediterranean, this flowering herb is often used for medicinal purposes and has a bright, clean scent. "Clary sage is recognized as an antidepressant and stress reducer," Weiss says. "It's wonderful for enhancing feelings of peace and wellbeing." She suggests blending clary sage with lavender to help you unwind at the end of the day.
This purple flowering herb gives off a refreshing aroma when planted in the garden or used in its oil form. Megan Fitzgerald, executive spa director at The LakeHouse Spa in Austin, Texas, classifies lavender as an "adaptogen," which is a natural substance that helps the body adjust to stress. She explains that the scent can help you calm down if you feel wired or boost your spirits when you feel exhausted.
Found in the flowers of the tropical Cananga tree, ylang-ylang oil is frequently used in beauty products, such as perfumes and serums, as well as for home fragrances. "Ylang-ylang enhances feelings of joy and comfort, improving mood and energy while promoting relaxation," Weiss says. The sweet, floral scent has a slightly fruity aroma.
How to Use Calming Scents in Your Home
One of the simplest ways to infuse your home with calming aromas is to light a candle made with essentials oils. Along with filling the room with fragrance, candles create a soothing ambiance that can help you relax.
Alternatively, reed diffusers offer a continuous fragrance that doesn't require a flame. "Keep reed diffusers in smaller spaces like bathrooms or bedrooms to be surrounded by calming fragrance 24/7," Lamagna suggests. "You can control the fragrance by how often you flip the reeds, and how many reeds you keep in your jar." Plan to turn the reeds about once a week or when you notice the scent fading. Adding more reeds will release more fragrance, but most diffusers contain between 6 and 10 reeds. An essential oil diffuser can also provide long-lasting aromas through a light mist.
You can also use essential oils to create a wide range of DIY home fragrances to naturally deodorize your home. Choose your favorite calming combination to create room spray, carpet deodorizer, or wax melts.