I know that the return to school has been easier for some teenagers than others over these past couple of weeks. Sometimes it is really difficult for us as parents to know what to do to help and support them. We do the research; we ask others and try and come up with some support options to give them a bit of guidance.
It’s been a tough year for our teens, and they have been amazing with managing what they have.
I often get asked for tools which can be used at home to help when our teens may feel anxious and overwhelmed. Essential oils are one of my ‘go to’ solutions for my own teen boys and something I often suggest to parents of teens I am working with.
So, in this blog I want to share my top five essential oils for supporting teenagers who may be finding anxiety an issue right now. It could be related to going back to school, it could be about exams, friendship challenges or generalised feelings of worry. Essential oils can be a supportive tool as aroma can have a positive impact on the part of the brain which is responsible for emotional regulation. Our olfactory system (sense of smell) is located within our limbic system, which is our emotional centre, the place where our teens are most dominant and operate from during their adolescent years.
Knowing this means that we can make some conscious choices about essential oils which we can use to support our teenager’s mood and emotional responses, whether it is helping them calm and relax, feel more uplifted and motivated or helping them focus and concentrate.
The Top Five
So, here are my top five, tried and tested in my home with my teenage boys, and also with the teenage clients I support too. Once teens have more of an understanding about how the oils work, they are often more receptive to their use.
Vetiver is harvested from the root of a grass and distilled to produce a thick, viscous liquid. It is incredibly grounding, and by that, I mean an oil that helps us remain or return to the present. Anxiety for teens is often from worrying about something they have done or said, or thoughts and worries about the future. This then impacts on their ability to sleep as they find themselves stuck in repetitive thought cycles over what happened during the day or forecasting and worrying about what might happen in the future, two areas where they have no control. An oil like vetiver can help that overworked imagination and help them to just remain where they are, in bed, feeling tired and ready for sleep. Poor sleep cycles feed into anxiety and worry, so using an oil like vetiver can be supportive to a young person who is finding it difficult to ‘switch off’.
2. ‘Adaptiv’ Essential Oil Blend
Adaptive is a blend of essential oils containing lavender, spearmint, copaiba, sweetgum, magnolia, neroli, rosemary and orange. This combination of oils is designed to calm the mind whilst uplifting the mood, helping us to adapt to changing situations and circumstances. Much of anxiety is focused on things that have happened or haven’t happened yet and might never happen. This blend focuses on supporting the mind to adapt and change without anticipating everything in the light of what might go wrong, calming those negative thoughts and worries and helping to shift negative mood states when they feel too intense. Using this oil aromatically with teens is particularly supportive to them. It has been immensely useful helping young people adapt back into school with changes to the way they run and multiple rules in place.
3. Wild Orange
Wild Orange is known universally as a ‘mood lifter’. It contains a naturally occurring chemical constituent called ‘limonene’ which has been shown to reduce stress and tension when used aromatically. We also know that by smelling this oil, we can boost our neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, as wild orange’s fresh and uplifting smell can create happy, positive images in the mind. It is worth reminding you here that the brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, so when we use a beautiful aroma like wild orange to support a positive mood, and our mind takes us to some happy recollections and memories triggered by this oil, we produce those positive brain chemicals too. It’s a great one to use for teens in the morning, on cold, dark, damp days when the last thing they want to do is get up for school or college, and also during any kind of afternoon slump when they need to feel more lifted after any stresses and tension they have been carrying around with them. The teens I work with often use it during the school day, subtly, to help them if they are feeling anxious, worried or unsure.
4. Balance Essential Oil Blend
I cannot talk about anxiety in teens and not mention this blend. Combining Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, and Blue Chamomile essential oils, it is also known as the ‘grounding blend’. When we experience anxiety, we can become fixated on what has happened in the past or worry about the future, which ties us into a negative cycle of thinking and can increase anxiety. Believe it or not, certain essential oils, with their chemical constituents, can actually help switch this ‘thinking’ off by calming the mind and helping us be in the present, which is the only area of our life that we actually have control over at that moment. If you can imagine how teens are likely to be in this state of rumination many times a day, especially through conversations with friends as they navigate their pathways through everyday life, but it is not always helpful. Tree oils help the mind to calm as, like trees, they can only be present, standing rooted and strong in the ground. This oil blend, when used on the feet, can have the same positive impact. It stops us from clogging up our headspace by thinking and dwelling on things we have no control over. This is useful for us parents as well as our teens too, and one I regularly use with teenagers to help them start the day feeling more grounded and calm the mind, and after a busy, intense day of thinking, talking and dwelling.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil can be helpful when we are low in mood and feeling anxious, and when everything feels like an effort. For teens, this can feel more so, as their brains are focused on their emotional centre and will easily dwell on what might go wrong rather than what might go right. Peppermint oil is a fast-acting oil that can fire up the neural pathways and help our teens start to function at times when they really don’t want to. Together with wild orange, peppermint is the ultimate mood lifter and energiser and can be fantastic at clearing a foggy head and mind, and especially useful in the morning!
How can they be best used?
Parents often ask me how to use these oils with their teens. Using them aromatically can be immensely beneficial, in a cold air diffuser in their rooms or in a space where they are spending their time studying or relaxing. I often use nasal inhalers and make them up for teens so they can use them on the go when they are at school or out and about and find particular oils supportive for different and shifting moods and emotions. Also, some of them can be beneficial when massaged onto their feet, especially at night-time, and in the morning when getting ready for the day.
There are many other essential oils which can be supportive, but these ones, I believe are particularly suited to a teenager’s daily challenges and issues especially when they may be struggling with anxiety. It is important to note here that these oils are not a substitute for medical guidance or advice, or to treat, diagnose or cure any issue related to mental or physical health. If you have concerns relating to your teens mental health then please speak to your GP or other medical practitioner.
If you would like any more information about any of these oils mentioned above or would like to explore how I can support your teenager in other ways then please feel free to get in touch by emailing me [email protected]