How to Reduce Stress this Winter with Aromatherapy (According to Science)

How to Reduce Stress this Winter with Aromatherapy (According to Science)

By Sarah Griffiths, DCH

Winter can be a stressful time if we aren't prepared! Our circadian rhythm changes, our immune systems are signalling us to rest and we start to experience more stress if we don't slow down with the season. And, if you're like me, it's hard to slow down! Below are my top 5 go-to aromatherapy oils for reducing stress in the winter time, each boasting a large body of scientific research and well-earned recognition as medicines in many ancient cultures. Let's get into it:

  1. Lavender = RELAXATION: A study 2008 published in the International Journal of Cardiology entitled: “Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography” showed that diffused lavender essential oil reduced serum cortisol (the stress hormone) and simultaneously improved coronary circulation (lowered blood pressure) in health adult men. (1)
  2. Bergamot = CLEAR NEGATIVE MOOD: In 2022, The Journal of Nursing Research published a study on the positive effect of bergamot oil in women suffering from postpartum depression. Bergamot has been shown in several studies to help ameliorate low mood and depression. (2)
  3. Chamomile = REDUCED ANXIETY: A 2017 article published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed an improved 24-hour cortisol (stress) cycle and improved symptoms in patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. (3)
  4. Rose = AIDS IN GRIEF RECOVERY: Not only is this flower indicated for grief and loss but also a meta-analysis from the Iranian Journal for Basic Medical Sciences highlighted it’s benefits as anti-HIV, antibacterial, antioxidant, antitussive, hypnotic, antidiabetic, and as a relaxant effect on tracheal chains. Iranians have cherished this plant’s medicinal properties for thousands of years. (4)
  5. Frankincense = IMMUNE SUPPORT: When we get stressed, our immune systems can take a hit. Frankincense has been scientifically shown to have a plethora of positive effects on the immune system including modulating immune cells and creating anti-inflammatory effects in ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis. In addition, boswellic acids even have an antiproliferative effect on tumours. (5)

Ways to use essential oils:

  • Aromatherapy infuser
  • Shower or bath infusion
  • Room sprays
  • Add to the dryer with your laundry
  • Infused natural wax candles
  • Infused bath salts
  • Salves
  • Shampoos
  • Soaps

Have fun exploring these calming oils in whatever form you prefer. It's difficult to pick a favorite!


1. International Journal of Cardiology: Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography, 2007

2. Journal of Nursing Research: The effect of bergamot essential oil aromatherapy on improving depressive mood and sleep quality in postpartum women: a randomized control trial, 2022

3. Journal of Psychiatric Research: An exploratory study of salivary cortisol changes  during chamomile extract therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder, 2018

4. Iranian Journal of Basic Medicine: Pharmacological effects of Rosa Damascena, 2011 

5. Postepy Hig Med Dosw: Frankincese -- therapeutic properties, 2016


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