Top essential oils for concentration & mental energy

Top essential oils for concentration & mental energy

Essential oils have so many fabulous actions, but I often think their brain stimulant properties are under-utilised and less well-recognised. I use aromatherapy oils constantly when writing, driving on long journeys – or when my capacity to concentrate is dwindling, and renewed focus is required!

Certain essential oils have an instant effect on brain activity, which has been demonstrated by monitoring brain activity via electroencephalograms. Most of the work conducted in this area has been in relation to the relaxing / balancing nature of sedatives essential oils. The mood enhancing nature has also been explored - and I firmly believe that aromatherapy oils will be used more and more in the future for their effect on our moods and emotions.

But, back to their stimulating properties – when brain fog strikes, when you're feeling tired and simply can't concentrate, why not try grabbing a bottle of essential oil instead of that next cup of coffee! The additional bonus with the stimulant effects of course, is that not only will they improve energy and focus, but they will also have an uplifting effect on your mood and emotions too!

It's useful to remember that the emotional center in our brain is directly connected to the olfactory epithelium inside our noses. This highly sensitive nerve bulb transmits the effects of the scent directly to our brain - so inhaling an essential oil will have an almost instant effect.

Another important point is that if we have difficulty in concentrating or applying ourselves, it can be caused by an emotional / mental weariness - a procrastination rather than a physical tiredness. This demonstrates another reason why essential oils can have such a powerful effect on your capabilities and performance.

Top 10 essential oils for energy & concentration

Rosemary essential oil

This fabulously energising essential oil is an immunity booster as well as a brain stimulant and gives a tremendous boost to your circulation when used in massage. I always vaporise this oil with Grapefruit and Peppermint if I need a creative boost or to help me recover from mental fatigue. Try 3 drops Rosemary essential oil, 4 Grapefruit and 1 Peppermint in an aromatherapy diffuser.

Rosemary is also a fabulous aromatherapy oil to include in a pre-exercise massage oil – due to its circulatory stimulant action. As a rubifacient it draws the blood up towards the surface, helping to prevent muscle strain, and giving you an extra energy boost! Mix 30ml Sweet Almond oil with 4 drops Rosemary, 6 Lavender and 2 Roman Chamomile. Safety note: Do not use Rosemary if pregnant or suffering with epilepsy.

Basil essential oil

The warm, rich undertones of this unusual scent can help to relieve feelings of mental overload! I love to vaporise Basil with Sandalwood for a reassuring boost to confidence and self-esteem. Use 3 drops Basil essential oil, 4 Sandalwood and 2 Frankincense for a really grounding and uplifting blend!

Pine essential oil

One of the best ways of using Pine essential oil is via steam inhalation. Not only will it help boost your immune system but its piercing, invigorating action will help to relieve fatigue and nervous exhaustion! Particularly good if you're feeling sluggish and tired due to a cough, cold or physical exertion. Try 3 drops Pine, 2 Plai and 1 Ginger in a bowl of steamy hot water. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head. Breathe in deeply through the nose for a few minutes, keeping your eyes closed.

May Chang essential oil

This wonderfully aromatic essential oil has a tremendously uplifting, and lightening effect on your emotions – so is great to help stimulate your mood and shake off that 'Monday morning' feeling! I love to use it in an atmosphere / room spray.  Use 100ml Orange Flower Hydrolat in a spray bottle and add 6 drops May Chang essential oil, 4 Rosemary, 2 Ginger and 20 Sweet Orange.

Eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus is best known for its decongestant properties – but is also fabulous to help clear the mind. It is said to restore clarity of thought and encourage a positive attitude / approach! We all know about steam inhalations for congestion, but have you tried one for focus and boosting your mood? If you're working from home it's easy, highly effective – as the essential oils are absorbed through the blood rich lining of the lungs – and it has a longer lasting effect than vaporising.

Add 1 drop Eucalyptus essential oil, 1 Rosemary, 1 Ginger and 4 Bergamot to a bowl of steamy hot water (as above). Inhale for 5 minutes then splash your face with cold water - this also helps enliven your mental energies, and is great for the skin too!

Peppermint essential oil

Never underestimate the power of Peppermint essential oil – it is SO strong. One drop for almost ALL uses is all you'll require. I like to use it in my deliciously scented 'concentration balm' for temples and pulse points. It’s a fabulous mood enhancer too. Mix 30ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel with 1 drop Peppermint, 2 May Chang, 2 Neroli and 4 Bergamot.

Camphor essential oil

Again, Camphor essential oil is normally associated with its anti-inflammatory and decongestant effects. It is also however, a great brain stimulant too, and can be used in a vaporising blend or a chest rub if you're feeling a little under the weather and in need of a 'pick me up'.  For the chest rub mix 30ml Organic Moisturising Cream with 3 drops Camphor, 1 Ginger, 1 Thyme and 6 Bergamot. Massage into the chest, which will help introduce the oils into the blood stream as well as being inhaled. The same quantity of essential oils can also be vaporised/diffused. Safety note: Do not use Camphor if pregnant or suffering with epilepsy.

Plai essential oil

Plai essential oil is a lovely choice if you're flagging mentally due to stress or anxiety. Try a shower first thing with this delicious aromatherapy blend – to lift your mood and stimulate the senses. Back up with the same blend of essential oils in a vaporiser for extra impact. Take 120ml SLS Free Bath & Shower Gel and add 6 drops Plai, 10 Tangerine, 10 Bergamot and 4 Neroli. Shake well before use.

Elemi essential oil

Elemi essential oil was included in many ancient incense blends for its fresh, yet grounding, relaxing, yet uplifting properties. This is an excellent option if your concentration is lacking partly due to self-doubt or lack of confidence in your ability to succeed, or to meet that deadline. Firstly, don't panic! Take 3 drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in a glass of water and then vaporise the following essential oils, or take an aromatic bath if you have time – sometimes “time out” helps create that “game on” feeling. For vaporising use 3 drops each of Elemi, Grapefruit and Frankincense. For an aromatherapy bath mix 15ml SLS Free Bath & Shower Gel with 2 drops Elemi, 2 Neroli, 1 Peppermint and 6 Bergamot.

Ginger essential oil

This warming oil is dynamite to your senses when it comes to re-invigoration and inspiration! If you tend to suffer from the cold too, you'll definitely want to gravitate towards this oil. Start the day with an enlivening bath blend and vaporise it in your office throughout the day. Drink fresh lemon and ginger tea with a sprig of fresh Rosemary too, and you'll be warm and stimulated inside and out!

For the bath, mix 15ml SLS Free Bath & Shower Gel with 1 drop Ginger essential oil, 1 Black Pepper, 4 Geranium, 4 Bergamot.

For a stimulating moisturising cream, mix 120ml Organic Moisturising Cream with 4 drops Ginger, 4 Black Pepper, 8 Patchouli, 14 Geranium and 14 Bergamot. Apply this directly after your warm bath to aid the absorption of the oils.

For vaporising use 3 drops Ginger, 2 Black Pepper and 4 Lime.

All of these above mentioned essential oils can be purchased via our website, but if you're not sure which ones to get why not start with our Focus pure essential oil blend with May Chang, Basil, Sweet Marjoram and Sage.

Please note whilst these stimulating aromatherapy oils can have an enlivening effect on the mind and body, they are not a substitute for proper sleep, nutrition and relaxation. They make ideal short-term aids but should not be relied on long-term.

Other tips for super-charging your brain

  • A turbo-charged brain is a well-nourished one – and it may surprise you to know that means an increase in FAT in your diet….yes really. The brain consists of 60% fat – so a low-fat diet is the worst type of diet you can have for concentration and clarity. This is particularly important whilst we're still growing – up to our early 20s. What we really need to do to improve our mental capacities is to increase our intake of healthy Omega 3 fats – such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) – which are found in high quantities in fresh fish (including mackerel, kippers, tinned sardines, smoked salmon, rainbow trout and tinned salmon) as well as grass fed, outdoor reared beef. 
  • Eat little and often high nutrient snacks with no sugar or slow release sugars from unrefined sources.
  • Cook with raw organic Coconut Oil.
  • Dietary recommendations with powerful effects on general and brain health: Paleo or Ketogenic Diet.
  • Ensure you are not dehydrated – drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of water per day.
  • Get a good 7 – 8 hours quality sleep.
  • Get at least 3 sessions of exercise a week – to release mood-enhancing endorphins and increase oxygen uptake.
  • Good posture also helps ensure adequate oxygen uptake.
  • Book regular Aromatherapy massages to reduce muscular tension which can negatively affect blood flow to the brain and concentration. Massage also stimulates the release of endorphins, your circulation and immune response, and gives you a “feel good factor” that will help anyone's brain to function better! 

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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