Aromatherapy: Understanding Relaxing Oils

Relaxation is probably one of the main things that you associate with aromatherapy. Many oils have relaxing properties, though not all of them affect you in the same way. Some oils relax your muscles, relieving tension, others relax your mind, dispelling fear, anger and worry that may be causing sleepless night. Others can have a more sensual effect, relaxing your inhibitions and putting you in a receptive mood for romance.

Identify the causes

When choosing oils for relaxation, take a few moments to consider what it is you wish to soothe. Is it your mind, body or emotions? This will help you to identify the oils that will have the greatest effect. Once you have decided which oils are right for you, combine them with relaxing techniques and feel your tension simply slide away.

Properties of Relaxing Oils

Relaxing oils, whatever their purpose, in most cases have many ingredients in common, so look out for these when choosing the oils you need. Generally, the best oils to help you relax are those with a high chemical content of:


These are renowned for their soothing and balancing effects and can also be used for their anti-inflammatory properties.


These compounds are both calming and sedative, working on the nervous system to induce relaxation. They are also anti-inflammatory, and so can serve a dual purpose in relaxation blends.


Many relaxing essential oils contain ketones, which are both sedative and pain relieving. Many of the oils that contain these chemicals have floral and woody scents. This is hardly surprising when you consider that there are few things that are more relaxing than the idea of beautiful flowers on a warm summer's day.

Your Key to Relaxing Oils


This oil is a remedy for stress and tension and can also reduce anxiety.

Add to a vaporiser to slowly, but potently, release its effects.

Aromatherapy chamomile

Clary sage

This has euphoric as well as deeply relaxing properties, so it is invaluable for stress. It also soothes PMS, including mood swings.


Inhaling this oil, from a tissue or vaporiser, encourages relaxation and has the added benefit of improving your sleep.


The ingredients in this oil are natural sedatives, helping you enter a state of deep relaxation and sensuality as it is an aphrodisiac.


Dab this oil on your pulse points to relieve stress. Lavender oil's relaxing effects are caused by ketones, which can induce sleep.

aromatherapy ylang ylang

Ylang ylang

Use ylang ylang as part of a massage blend to relax your muscles after a stressful day, or inhale it to stall panic attacks.


Orange is a relaxing oil that can ease muscles and act as a sedative, while at the same time improving your mood.


This can be used as an effective massage oil to relax stiff joints and muscles as well as to heal aches and pains.


Marjoram is a strong sedative. Its properties are so potent that it is actually renowned as an aphrodisiac.


This oil eases anxiety and tension, reduces the effects of PMS and reduces stress, especially in a bath or vaporiser.


Patchouli is a balancing oil which can be used to alleviate strongly negative emotions and restore relaxed balance.


Useful for stress, over-excitement, restlessness and insomnia, mandarin can be used as a relaxing oil in a bath or vaporiser.

aromatherapy mandarin

Creating your Relaxing Blends

Try these blends to help you relax.

To ease insomnia

Inhale from a tissue, or spray on your pillow if you keep waking during the night:

  • 3 drops lavender
  • 2 drops chamomile
  • 1 drop melissa

For stressed muscles

Use as a massage oil on the shoulders and upper back.

  • 3 drops lavender
  • 2 drops clary sage
  • 2 drops rose
  • 30ml carrier oil

After exercise

Massage into muscles.

  • 2 drops nutmeg
  • 3 drops black pepper
  • 3 drops grapefruit
  • 25ml grapeseed oil