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Essential Oils for Concentration & Mental Fatigue

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It seems life sometimes gives us more than we have time for, and we burn the candle at both ends until we are exhausted, mentally and physically.

Other times, it seems like there are more distractions pulling our attention away. Or, we try to multitask to get it all done, and usually end up getting not much done at all.

Slowing down and tackling one task at a time can improve productivity, as can focus music, but did you know that several essential oils may also help with concentration, memory, focus, and mental fatigue? This article will explore the best oils to use.

Essential Oils for Mental Fatigue

According to Psychology Today, mental fatigue occurs when we take on too much, leaving our brain tired.  Mental exhaustion often manifests as physical exhaustion as well.

It is important to reduce your load when you feel the effects of mental fatigue to avoid burnout.

If you feel overwhelmed, you should give yourself a break. Take a walk outside, meditate, anything that can re-charge you mentally and emotionally.

Essential oils are not a replacement for taking care of yourself and you need to work on the root of the problem first. Then, when you are ready to face your to-do list, diffusing the following essential oils may help stimulate your body a little—both mentally and physically:

Basil, frankincense, geranium, helichrysum, jasmine, juniper berry, lavender, peppermint, rosemary (ct. cineole), spearmint, thyme (ct. linalool)

Blend idea for mental fatigue:

2 drops rosemary

1 drop spearmint

2 drops lavender

table of essential oils used for mental fatigue


Essential Oils for Concentration

We have all experienced those times when we need to concentrate or be alert for a task but can’t quite stay focused.

Maybe its an exam, or extra work from the office that we need to complete.

Maybe we need a little help for a long drive. (See this Guide to Car Diffusers for more info on diffusing in your car).

Whatever the case, essential oils can give you a little boost and help you stay focused.

Rosemary has long been associated with memory and concentration, however you can also try these essential oils to help you stay focused:

Basil (ct. linalool) lemon, cardamom, bergamot, rosemary, peppermint, ginger, Melissa, petitgrain, and eucalyptus

Blend idea for concentration

3 drops lemon

2 drops rosemary

2 drops bergamot

table of essential oils used for concentration and focus

Essential Oils for Study

Have you ever smelled an aroma and been instantly reminded of something? The smell of grandma’s house, your mom’s apple pie. Aroma’s have long been associated with recall and memory. What if you could use that to your advantage to study?

In one study, researchers exposed 20 adults to rosemary essential oil aromas and then gave them subtractions problems to do. They checked blood levels for the presence of 1-8 cineole, a component of rosemary, and found a correlation between increased blood levels of 1-8 cineole and both speed and accuracy performing the subtraction tasks.

Interestingly, some essential oils can actually reduce mental performance. In a study of 140 participants, peppermint oil enhanced memory and mental alertness. Ylang ylang impaired memory but participants were calmer.

Next time you have an exam to prepare for, try sniffing or diffusing an essential oil when you study. Then, when you take your test, sniff the same oil.

If you are going to use this technique, Valerie Worwood suggests having one oil assigned to a particular subject. So, as an example, you might use Rosemary for math, and Bergamot for history. This will ensure that the scent is associated with the information you want to remember.

Using your oils

If you are at home or in your own vehicle, a diffuser is an ideal way to use oils for focus, concentration or mental fatigue.

Many workplaces have fragrance policies. Even if your workplace doesn’t, if you work around people you need to consider that they may be sensitive or have contraindications to the oils you are using. Consider the following options for personal diffusion:

  • Carry a personal inhaler that you can sniff from as needed
  • Place a drop or two on a tissue or handkerchief and carry it in your pocket.
  • Diffuse in your vehicle on the way to work
  • If you have a more private workspace, I made myself a desktop diffuser that I use when no one is around, and put the lid on as needed. It is a metal tin with a clay disc (or lava bead) inside.
  • Aromatherapy jewelry—pendants or bracelets. This is probably both the most convenient, but also the highest risk if your workplace has a fragrance policy. Unlike the other options on this list, the only way to put it away is to take it off.

Essential oils can provide a boost to your ability to focus and concentrate, but they are not a replacement for adequate self-care.

I believe in responsibly using these precious resources which means using them with purpose and intention. Sleep, eat healthy, take breaks, don’t overload yourself and when you need an extra pick me up, then turn to oils.

text overlay essential oils for focus and concentration with photo of woman reading on dock

First published September 2013; Last update October 2019

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