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Essential Oils for Loneliness

Three flowers lay on a grey background

What does loneliness feel like? A dull ache in your stomach. A longing for something you can’t quite name. A room full of people and no one to talk to.

This summer, I separated from my longtime partner and started living alone for the first time in my forty years. I was so used to living with and taking care of people that I found myself feeling confused and listless. I worried about wasting the solo time that everyone around me kept saying was so precious. But I was disoriented, and I couldn’t focus enough to “productively” relax.

I am trying to parse the difference between delicious solitude and what it is to be lonesome. How do I embody one without succumbing to the other? Will a little loneliness lead me to the solitude that I always crave? I want the creative, generative solitude that I remember from my art school youth. Mostly, I want to remember myself.

I’ve been taking things slow and supporting myself through this change with a collection of essential oils (and therapy, and friendship, and self-care). Essential oils aren’t cure-alls, but plant scents are proven to activate specific emotional and psychological centers that can support mental health. It's a sensual approach to easing the aches of the heart and the busyness of the mind.

Here are the essential oils I reach for during periods of loneliness:


In which the dreamy effervescence of hippy culture is dramatically misapplied

A green bottle of face oil on a background of patchouli plants

Patchouli promotes security and helps to plant your figurative feet firmly on the ground. Its scent makes me feel centered and assured—it brings me back to what I know.


Sparkling and sweet, fresh and clean, the epitome of joy

A yellow box of soap on a background of sliced pink grapefruit

But joy is not the only thing this juicy citrus offers. It welcomes a bubbling feeling of self-regard and a sense of importance. Citrus is also known for easing fear and combatting fatigue.


Clean it the F out

A green tube of lip balm on a background of peppermint plants

This minty freshness is a little overpowering, so tread lightly. Peppermint melts away feelings of negativity, especially inward-facing, so you can more readily register your self-worth as you travel through a tough moment.


A spicy burst of confidence and courage

A bottle of yellow liquid on a background of a clove plant

I love clove essential oil paired with peppermint. I imagine it as a blustery wind, clearing my path, and smoothing my senses.


A lift of boldness, brushing against me as I walk

A green box on a background of rosemary plants

The sunshine on the streets of Sacramento diffuses this particular herb that's growing like hedges through my neighborhood. I’m thankful for its persistence, how self-possessed it is. Rosemary is great for focus, so if you’re floundering a bit, sniff a sprig and take a beat.

For those of you moving through the lonesome waves, I see you, and I’m sending you sweet-smelling hugs.


Written by Tara Pelletier, co-founder


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