People with high-stress jobs often struggle with anxiety. Without tested outlets to relieve pressure on a regular basis, such working conditions can take a toll on their physical and emotional health. While medications for anxiety may bring relief, they are not free of side effects and may cause dependency.
Two of the most popular calming herbs, lavender and chamomile, could potentially be used as natural solutions for work-place anxiety and beyond. Combining aromatherapy with other alternative methods, such as music therapy, may further enhance anxiolytic benefits, as shown previous studies.1
The aim of this trial was to determine the effects of aromatherapy with chamomile and lavender essential oils on anxiety, when used alongside music therapy.
Researchers in this 2020 clinical trial chose 120 clinical nurses from Besat Hospital in Sanandaj, Iran as their study population. They were selected from various high-stress hospital wards, such as emergency, intensive care, or oncology units.
They were divided into four groups with the following treatments for three consecutive shifts:
- Group 1: music therapy
- Group 2: music therapy + aromatherapy with chamomile and lavender essential oils (1.5%)
- Group 3: aromatherapy with chamomile and lavender essential oils
- Group 4 (the control): no treatment
In nurses treated with aromatherapy, three drops of the essential oil mixture were applied to a pad and held 20 cm from the nose for 20 minutes. Music therapy, on the other hand, consisted of 20 minutes of listening to one's favorite music.
Before the study began as well as after its end, nurses' anxiety levels were measured on the Beck Anxiety Inventory.
At the beginning of the trial, the mean anxiety score across the four groups was 58. The scores significantly decreased in groups 1, 2, and 3, with group 2 showing the largest drop (-20.36 vs. -19.03 and -18.50 in groups 1 and 2, respectively).
Participants in the control group did not register major changes. No major side effects were reported during the trial.
What Does this Mean?
The results of this interesting study show that both music therapy as well as lavender and chamomile aromatherapy can reduce anxiety in people with high-stress jobs.
In the cases of clinical nurses, having a tested and side-effect free way to reduce workplace anxiety offers numerous benefits not only for their own mental health, but also for the well-being and safety of those for which they care. Keeping anxiety at bay improves workers' focus, attention to details, and overall performance.
- Journal of Medicine and Life, Effect of Music Therapy and Aromatherapy with Chamomile-Lavender Essential Oil on the Anxiety of Clinical Nurses: A Randomized and Double-Blind Clinical Trial, 2020
- Quality of Life Research. (2017). Comparing effects between music intervention and aromatherapy on anxiety undergoing mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit: a randomized clinical trial. Retrieved January 11, 2021 from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11136-017-1525-5