How Essential Oils Can Combat Workplace Anxiety
Essential oils are a mainstay of holistic wellness. Their benefits can extend to providing stress relief in the workplace, which was experienced by at least 914,000 UK workers between 2021 and 2022.
Below, I share my insight into the use of essential oils as an innovative approach to managing workplace anxiety, highlighting the critical role of oil placement for optimal benefit and discussing important safety considerations.
The science behind aromatherapy
Rich in phytoncides and other medicinal organic compounds, essential oils have a scientifically proven ability to elicit emotional responses that can positively influence our mental and emotional state.
While aromatherapy should not be considered a complete cure for anxiety, it has potential as a clinically effective complementary treatment when used alongside more traditional medicinal therapies.
The efficacy of different essential oils hinges on their chemotypes, with each oil containing varied chemical constituents based on their source, thereby providing a range of therapeutic properties.
Simply inhaling an essential oil’s aroma sends scent molecules directly to the sensory cells within our olfactory system, which then relay this information to the brain.
The brain responds by releasing neurochemical substances that can instigate a feeling of relaxation and calm or a sense of invigoration and energy.
The power of scent selection
A careful selection of essential oil scents will determine their efficacy as an anxiolytic treatment.
To combat work-induced anxiety, opt for oils like lavender which has calming properties and is renowned for its capacity to reduce feelings of anxiousness and stress.
A wealth of research supports claims that inhaling lavender oil can instigate tranquillity in both mind and body, improve sleep cycles and boost immune systems.
Chamomile oil, another potent relaxation inducer, has shown promising results in reducing anxiety and balancing cortisol levels, which are essential for managing stress levels. However, caution is advised due to its potential sedative effects which are less than ideal in the workplace.
For an energy boost, consider refreshing citrus scents like bergamot and lemon essential oils. These smells are known for their mood-lifting and concentration-enhancing properties, as well as their ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase physical energy levels.
Rosemary and peppermint oil are some examples of aromas to be avoided in the workplace as they can overstimulate senses and boost alertness, leading to undesirable effects on anxiety.
Placement: The key to diffusion success
Effective aromatherapy implementation in the workplace requires the right scent and an optimal location to benefit all employees.
Electric diffusers or a spritz of an oil mixture on soft furnishings can introduce the scent into a workspace subtly without overpowering the senses.
Diffusers should be centrally located, at least two feet above the floor, and at least three feet from an employee’s personal space.
Different areas of the office can utilise varied scents based on their purpose, such as calming scents for relaxation zones and energising ones for workspaces.
Using essential oils responsibly
Although essential oils provide numerous benefits, their use demands careful handling. Over-concentration, sensitivity and adverse reactions can occur without the right precautions.
Key factors include dilution to control dosage and considering personal needs such as allergies or pregnancy, as well as adhering to the manufacturer's storage instructions.
Oils should be carefully stored to extend the lifespan of oils. External factors like heat, light, and air exposure can affect their potency and quality.
Containing them in dark-coloured bottles, such as amber and glass, will shield the contents from UV light which can cause deterioration. Air-tight caps with dropper lids will minimise air exposure which may affect the chemical compounds of essential oils.
When it comes to using essential oils in the workplace, thoughtful selection, strategic placement and mindful usage are keys to unlocking their potent potential for combating workplace anxiety, creating a healthy and happy work environment.