Can Essential Oils Help You Stay Calm at Work? We Tried the Vitruvi Diffuser to Find Out
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Anxiety is a near and dear friend of mine. Whether I’m wondering if I’ll make it through traffic in time to meet a friend for dinner, or I’m contemplating what I’ll do if my next freelance check doesn’t come in before my mortgage is due, anxiety is riding sidecar. And while I’ve done my best through therapy, meditation and daily CBD dosing to remind anxiety that it’s allowed to come along for the ride as long as it can remember that it’s not in the driver’s seat, I’ve struggled more as I’ve gotten older with keeping my anxiety from taking the wheel.
In a recent desperate attempt to stay more focused while working, and less distracted by all the things I can’t control, I started using the vitruvi Stone Diffuser and some of vitruvi’s most popular single essential oils and essential oil blends during my work day. Here’s what happened.
My Problem: Lack of Calm and Focus During Work
While anxiety has been a long-term relationship of mine, it’s recently been trying to hog more of my daily brain space than normal. It began as a perfect storm of minor catastrophes: My husband was diagnosed with a (non-life-threatening) genetic blood disorder. Then, my autoimmune diseases began flaring up, which also led to my chronic pain taking an unexpected turn for the worse. Our finances got a little out of whack because of some delayed freelancing contracts, and then to top it all off, a seemingly innocuous visit to the vet with my six-year-old miniature Schnauzer turned into the discovery of a potentially cancerous tumor, which can only be mitigated by incredibly expensive surgery.
No wonder I was having trouble focusing on work.
The thing about anxiety is that when it’s on full alert, it interferes with your present moment ability to concentrate and it saps you of your overall energy. So I was struggling to quell my internal panic and nervous stomach while writing, replying to emails, taking photos and scheduling social media, and then I felt I had nothing left to repair and recoup at the end of the day. Or, as my therapist would say, I was using all my good hours for work, and then trying to dig myself out of a hole during my restoration time.
My Solution: Add Essential Oils to My Routine with the vitruvi Diffuser
Essential oils are powerful mood boosters. Studies show that they can be beneficial to relieve depressive symptoms, and lavender essential oil has been shown to be effective at pain relief, as well as in treatment of neurological disorders. Part of the reason aromatherapy is believed to be helpful is because when you inhale them, the olfactory bulb in the front of your brain has connections to parts of the amygdala and hippocampus that are associated with emotion and memory. Smell can not only evoke strong positive memories, but it can also associate negative or traumatic events with scent—essential oils are thought to help reroute those brain patterns.
I’ve used essential oils for years, in topical skin treatments, and in roll-on blends for pain, stress and headaches. I’ve also tried diffusing them in the past, but never had a great place to keep the diffuser in close proximity during the day. We recently moved into our first house, and I now have my own office for my full-time, working-from-home gig, so my desktop is an easy diffuser storage option.
I also had a slight issue with the beauty of the diffusers I’ve used in the past. Don’t get me wrong—a white plastic diffuser with minimal branding can get the job done for pretty cheap. But I’m often shooting photos of my workspace for social media and I have inclination for only keeping beautiful things in my space, another way to quell anxiety. Some of the diffusers I’d tried in the past I gave up on because they didn’t fit my aesthetic, and I’d want to put them away after a day of using them… and then it was too much work to set them up again each morning, especially because if there was leftover water in them, with the chance of sloppy spillage that I’d then have to clean up.
That’s where the vitruvi Diffuser is different. It’s a piece of art that I can not only use in my photos, but I love leaving on my desk every day. The bottles of essential oils are also really pleasing to the eye (all of which is likely why the line was picked up by Nordstrom and Goop). I leave them out on my office side table without feeling like they’re contributing to clutter.
The Results: More Ability to Concentrate and Less Panic
I tried both vitruvi’s Pacific blend and mixed my own blends using the line’s single-oil kit during my work day for the last three weeks, and I notice a difference in my body’s ability to focus when I forget to refill the diffuser and click it on. Having the light scent misting next to me while I’m answering emails or in a meeting has allowed my body to relax and unclench in ways that it wasn’t doing on its own before. It’s like having a gentle, constant reminder that things are okay, and they can’t be as bad as my anxiety wants to tell me they are.
I’ve experienced this before with essential oils. I have blends that I apply before flying to calm nausea. I have blends that I roll on when my chronic back pain flares up. I have blends that I religiously rub on my throat when I’m getting a cold. They all work slightly differently, for different reasons, but I keep some form of them on me—in my purse, on my nightstand or in my desk drawer—at all times. They’re little lifelines, and give me a bit of felt control over ailments, from physical to emotional, when I need them.
Diffusing them into my office space is no different, and I feel like I’m addicted to creating a ritual blend every day. I love this combo right now: Spruce for a clean, fresh base; plus Grapefruit for some citrusy energy; and Lavender for calm and connectedness. My husband now walks into my office and says, “It smells like you!” which I take as an enormous compliment.
Aromatherapy is hard to do studies on because there’s not really the capacity for double-blind testing that’s synonymous with research’s gold standard—you’re likely going to know you’re smelling lavender (or at least SOME scent) if you’re in a group being watched for its impact on anxiety or pain. That means there’s always the possibility of a placebo effect.
But what vitruvi promotes, and what I’ve experienced, is that it’s as much about creating a ritual for essential oil use as it is about the specific essential oils you use. If you daily connect the transition from commuting to settling into your work day with lemon, peppermint and basil, those scents will become associated with focus and structure. If you inhale lavender and vetiver and mandarin orange before you fall asleep at night, you’ll be reminding your memory that those scents are connected to a restful slumber.
My point? Some of the power is in your hands. Essential oils are another tool for self-care and self-compassion, no matter your ailment. Yes, they also have incredible therapeutic properties, but you’re in control of amplifying those to suit your needs—and to elevate your mood.
Interested in how you can use essential oils to change your mood? Here are five easy steps for using them to move through emotional stress or grief.