Now Smell This: Aromatherapy for Driving Anxiety

lavenderThe next time you’re feeling tensed-up, wound-up and stressed-out in your car, you might want to sit back and take a whiff of this: Aromatherapy may be helpful for lessening your driving anxiety.

Aromatherapy uses the power of scent to help alleviate specific conditions and promote well-being as a whole. While you can practice aromatherapy with things like incense, scented candles and fragranced bubble bath, one of the most effective methods is the use of essential oils.

Essential oils come from the stems, leaves and other parts of plants which are extracted using natural methods, such as distillation. While in the plant, essential oils keep changing their chemical makeup to help the plant adapt to its constantly changing external and internal environment.

While in your oil burner or diffuser, essential oils penetrate the air with their aroma and infuse your body and mind with the specific properties associated with that particular essential oil. Because they are highly volatile compounds, essential oils are quickly absorbed into your body and can start working their magic nearly immediately.

Essential oils have been used to help conditions that range from depression to arthritis, indigestion to migraines, extreme body odor to hair loss, nausea to diarrhea. And yes, anxiety is definitely on the list.

Essential Oils for Driving Anxiety

While you probably don’t want to start lighting an oil burner on your dashboard, you can invest in a car diffuser to use essential oils in your vehicle. The device typically holds a small pad where you place a few drops of oil. You then plug the device into your vehicle’s lighter outlet to heat up the pad and diffuse the scent throughout your car.

If you’re looking to alleviate anxiety, you have a wide range of essential oils that may do the trick. Some of the more common include:

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood

Many essential oils can be effective for more than one condition, such as bergamot’s ability to help with anxiety as well as depression, digestion issues and body odor. You can also mix and match oils to create your own personalized healing concoction.

Does It Work?

A number of clinical trials say yes, essential oils can indeed be effective for helping to alleviate anxiety. Two mentioned in an article by Dr. Randi Fredricks are:

  • A trial out of the Geochang Provincial College in Korea tested the effects of lavender, bergamot and ylangylang essential oils used daily for 30 days. After four weeks of daily aromatherapy, subjects had significantly lower levels of anxiety, stress, cortisol and lower blood pressure than the control group.
  • A trial out of the Institute of Psychiatry in London looked at the effects of essential oil massages on cancer patients who were suffering from clinical anxiety, depression, or both. After six weeks and again after 10 weeks, patients who had received the massages reported lower anxiety and depression levels than the control group.

While aromatherapy may not address the deeper issues underlying your driving fears and anxiety, it may provide some relief for the short-term. And even if it doesn’t seem to do much for your driving anxiety, at least it’ll leave your car with a delicious aroma.


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