Step aside, cold brew. Caffeine might be the staple that currently keeps your workday together, but mother nature gifted us with another option when it comes to maximizing productivity. Aromatherapy, otherwise known as using essential oils for therapeutic benefit, dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. Extracts from plants, which are commonly inhaled, are used to promote your mental and physical well-being.
According to a study published by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, essential oils can be effective against stress, depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality among certain populations. When it comes to your job, you’ve more than likely came across one (or all) of those feelings. Whether you work from home or the office, make room for a diffuser and add these oils to your daily regimen to be the best version of you possible.
1. Start your morning off with lemon.
When you wake up already dreading what you need to get done, it’s usually a downhill day from there. Lemons are loaded with nutrients, and reducing the peel to an essential oil can keep you level-headed when it’s inhaled. The effectiveness of lemon oil against stress levels has already been demonstrated in a study out of Yamaguchi University. Among the essential oils tested, lemon had the most significant anti-stress effect while the subjects completed behavioral tasks. If you’re not a morning person and need an extra boost to get moving, add rosemary to your blend.
2. Elevate your focus with peppermint.
Once your laptop is open, it’s time to ramp up the focus. When your concentration tanks, there’s a good chance you start multi-tasking as your mind jumps around. It’s a habit we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking is peak productivity — big nope. All the switching between tasks usually means that barely any are actually completed.
The American Psychological Association says all the going back and forth can cut your productivity by as much as 40 percent. Thankfully, researchers have found that peppermint can not only enhance your memory, but it can also increase alertness. And on the days when you’re not feeling at your best, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests using peppermint oil to alleviate colds, coughs, and tension headaches.
3. Diffuse bergamot after lunch.
There’s no denying the correlation between cognitive performance and what you eat. Whatever you decide to fuel up on, a touch of bergamot oil may help it all go down a little more smoothly. Work can already be all consuming, so preventable stomach woes are the last thing you need to spend time worrying about. Especially if you’re someone with irregular digestion, bergamot is ready to go head to head against any internal inflammation on your behalf. “Inflammation within your gut can cause a host of unwanted health symptoms, from chronic constipation and fatigue to irregular periods,” Healthline reports.
Promising evidence about bergamot’s anti-inflammatory properties came out of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, where higher concentrations of the powerful citrus oil reduced inflammation in subjects. Feel free to use it aromatically or dilute it and apply to the skin.
4. Soak up feelings of happiness with jasmine.
To keep the positive energy flowing (and to avoid that post-lunch slump), bring out the jasmine oil. It’s been used for centuries in ancient medicine and can have a stimulating effect. So much so, that multiple studies published in the Journal of Health have evidence that jasmine oil directly affects our nervous system, uplifting our mood and potentially relieving symptoms of depression. Being happy while working doesn’t just mean you’re beaming in team meetings. Research out of University of Oxford reports that workers are 13 percent more productive when happy. Conquering the day doesn’t seem so out of reach when you’re immersed in this floral scent that pairs well with orange.
5. End your day with rose oil.
As the clock winds down and you send off those last few work emails, rose oil can help you unwind and transition to self-care mode. Roses are surprisingly way more than just pretty decor. When essential oils are extracted from the petals, inhaling them for as little as 90 seconds can lead to feelings of “comfortability” or “relaxation,” like participants expressed in a study out of Chiba University. These feelings can be linked to a decrease in right prefrontal cortex activity, which does all the tedious brain work like planning, focusing, short-term memory, and more. So the part of you that’s always on “go” finally gets a break with a little flower power. DND activated.