5 Science-Backed Aromatherapy Recipes To Hyper-Focus Your Mind + Increase Productivity

Do you sometimes feel like you’re not living in the present moment? Recently, there’s heightened interested in learning how to better leverage the focusing power of the brain to work and engage more efficiently. Fortunately, holistic aromatherapy can support your intention to be more mindful and motivated. 

Odors have long been known to alter mood and attention, but it seems as though we’ve lost touch with our aromatic wisdom. In fact, many would rather lose their sense of smell than give up their cell phones or computers. While most of us are not acutely aware of smell in daily functioning, approximately 5% of our DNA is devoted to olfaction, which serves as a testament to its significance on influencing behavior. 

Clinical studies have found essential oils to be suitable (and non-pharmacological!) enhancers of human cognitive performance. Peppermint aroma increases alertness, smelling citrus boosts mood and energy, and inhaling rosemary has been shown to sharply focus the mind and increase memory.

Take control and give your brain a natural boost with these 5 easy DIY aromatherapy recipes you can use at the office, at home, or on-the-go. 

For Concentration

The mind wanders, which is natural and can be healthy. So when you really need to focus, reach for this custom essential oil blend that will instantly command your deepest attention upon inhalation. 

Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill)

The strong, balsamic scent has a cooling emotional effect. It clears the mind and aids concentration. In Ayurveda, it supports the clearing of kapha excess conditions, like lethargy. 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis

Strong and vibrant, rosemary packs a gentle punch. A must-have in any concentration blend—it has been associated with memory since ancient Egypt. Shakespeare’s Ophelia even echoed its use for concentration saying, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” 

Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi)

One waft of fresh grapefruit will have you feeling re-energized. Grapefruit shifts blocked energy and relieves nervous exhaustion and anxiety associated with performance stress. It smooths away stagnant Qi-energy and lightens the burden of mental congestion.

How-to: Place 3 drops blue gum eucalyptus, 5 drops rosemary, and 7 drops grapefruit on a cotton wick and insert into inhaler. Use whenever to boost concentration. 

For Taking Action

Feeling stuck? If you are in search of a natural productivity aid, look no further. Re-center yourself with this essential oil roller-ball blend that’s sure to have you making decisions from a clear mind. 

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Its menthol-like and cooling odor is not only known for relieving painful headaches, but also inspiring enthusiasm. Peppermint aids concentration and catalyzes action. Its most useful for those feeling apathetic or lacking confidence. 

Sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)A member of the Apiaceae family, fennel represents potential and new beginnings. Its licorice-like scent motivates and busts through mental blocks. It helps the mind adjust and overcome boredom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Spicy and balsamic, it stimulates movement. It ameliorates poor concentration and is useful when lacking vital energy. Cardamom soothes the over-thinking worrier and can restore appetite for life.

How-to: Add 3 drops peppermint, 2 drops fennel, and 4 drops cardamom into a 10 ml glass roller bottle. Then, fill to the top with sunflower oil. Apply to pulse points.

For Authentic Listening

Do you find yourself zoning out when others are talking? If you want to be a more mindful listener and pay deeper attention, try these essential oils in your own temple massage oil that will open your ears and heart. 

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)

A sacred scent of earthy and woody tones, it stills the mind and promotes tranquility. Frankincense grants the ability to tap into higher consciousness and can elevate one to a more meditative place.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)

Distilled from the root, vetiver grounds energy and promotes strength. It’s helpful for quieting swirling thoughts and calming when there is oversensitivity and openness. It’s the go-to oil for those who tend to float outside of their bodies and minds, but desire to be more present. 

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

The sensual aroma calms the heart and eases the mind. Distilled from a majestic flower, it embodies feminine energy and significantly improves attentiveness.

How-to: Add 2 drops vetiver, 5 drops frankincense, and 6 drops ylang ylang into a 1 oz dropper bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil, like sweet almond. Drop a smidge on your hands, rub them together, then massage thoroughly on temples and ear lobes.

For Re-Setting Alertness

If you’re tired and groggy, indulge in extra self-care. Make your own uplifting and calming body scrub that’s perfect for kick-starting productivity. 

Red Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Embodying sunshine in a bottle, the citrus scent cultivates a sense of well-being—it uplifts while calming (thanks to a small percentage of the monoterpene alcohol, linalol). Mandarin speaks to our inner child and assists with clearing out stale ideas.

Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)

A cross between 2 lavenders, it releases pent-up energy and eases frustration. Lavandin oil contains between 7-12% camphor, making it more powerfully uplifting and stimulating than popular cousin, lavender. 

How-to: Add 15 drops of mandarin and 10 drops of lavandin into a 2 oz jar. Add 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt and brown sugar with a dollop of moisturizing jojoba oil. Mix well and scrub all over when showering. 

For When You’re Running on Automatic 

Stressed and in a time crunch? Slow down. In order to work efficiently, it’s important to observe your feelings. Take a quick pause with your own hyper-focusing facial mist.

Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

Its gentle, forest-like scent brings on a wave of warming energy. Black Spruce clears emotional blockages and expands your chest— creating breathing space. It is powerfully relaxing in moments of deep panic or feeling rushed. Giving stamina when fatigued, it also equilibrates the endocrine system.

Lemon (Citrus limon)

A powerhouse consciousness shifter and proven antidepressant and anxiolytic. Useful when unable to focus, lemon stabilizes during emotional outbursts. Running on fumes, it revitalizes energy.

White Rose hydrosol (Rosa alba)

The delicate, sweet scent balances the spirit. It adds a unique harmonizing twist to blends and is incredibly hydrating, making it great for skincare. One sniff can pull you out of your head and into your heart.  

How-to: Add 3 drops black spruce and 6 drops lemon into 2 oz spray bottle. Fill to the top with white rose hydrosol. Shake well before each, then mist lightly on face and décolletage. The shelf life is 3-6 months. 

Related: 7 Powerful Essential Oils For Opening Your Heart 
How To Make Your Own Organic Deodorant
How To Break Up With Anxiety Using Aromatherapy

Photo: Matt Montgomery via Unsplash

Leigh Winters | Editor-in-Chief
Written by Leigh Winters | Editor-in-Chief
Leigh Winters, M.A./M.S., is a clinical researcher at Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry’s New York State Psychiatric Institute. She works in the Substance Use Research Center on opioid, cocaine, and alcohol treatment trials that involve motivational enhancement therapy, pharmacological facilitation of mindfulness training, mindfulness-based relapse prevention, and mind-body practices. Leigh is a certified aromatherapist and Ayurveda specialist. She is passionate about health and wellness and enjoys writing. Leigh holds dual master's degrees from Columbia University in Clinical Psychology & Neuroscience. Reach out to Leigh via leigh@wiseandwell.co or on Instagram @wiseandwellco.