Not that we don't adore our families, but truth be told, the holiday season around some extended members tends to stress us out—particularly over dinner when that one uncle who obsessively reads fake news on Facebook decides to start talking politics. How do you deal? Grabbing another glass of wine could prove disastrous for everyone around you, and it's not like you can dip out to meditate for 20 to 30 minutes while the rest of your family tears into the food spread. Now is the time to brush up on your essential oil knowledge, so you can stash a vial in your clutch and bring immediate stress relief that much closer. "There are so many oils and combinations of oils that are effective in treating stress. Essential oils target stress in very specific ways because of the complexity of their chemical properties," says Brenda Brock, Farmaesthetics founder. "When looking for an essential oil to relieve stress, I think you first have to identify the stressor."
Although Brock's company carries a variety of oil blends ($27 each; farmaesthetics.com) to address general issues, she recommends singular oils for super-specific issues. If you've been stressed out and overthink every aspect of your life, a few drops of vetivert should help lift your spirits, wheras toxic thinking can be combated with pink grapefruit oil. "It has a stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, and helps to remove toxins from the body," Brock explains. "It is a known antidepressant—a 'sunny oil' if you will—and mentally enlivening." Black spruce oil helps relieve stress when you're burnt out, while chamomile brings about an overall zen feeling and dulls the ache of emotional grief. There isn't really a wrong way to apply them—Brock suggests starting out by adding a few drops to a warm bath, mixing them with a massage or body oil, or breathing them in. "I apply a few drops onto my palms, warm the oil by rubbing my hands together, then cup over my nose for a few deep breaths," she says. "It's a powerful tool for quickly redirecting the impact of stress, and is also valuble as a preventative measure." Start breathing deeply prior to everyone taking their seats, and you should feel the effects immediately.