By Posted March 2016
We go about our daily lives inhaling thousands of odors. Some of them are calming and reminiscent, while others are straight up foul and mentally disruptive. While we may notice the smell, we often overlook the positive and negative effects scents may have on our mood. But, if we paid closer attention, we just might be able to use scents to our advantage.
According to Luke Marr from Airheads Oxygen Bars, scents are used to do many things, including bring up memories, improve sleep, improve confidence, reduce stress or even increase the likelihood of finding someone attractive.
“Scents can have a huge effect on our mood. The area of our brain that processes emotions (the limbic center) is tied to the part of our brain that processes smells (the olfactory bulbs). This makes the connection between scents and emotions very high,” said Marr.
Adding a calming scent to your daily regimen can aid in preventing many illnesses, especially those that are linked to stress.
“Stress can contribute to heart problems, inflammation in the circulatory system and high blood pressure. The scent of lavender, however, can reduce both stress and anxiety. While this calms a person down in the short term, the less stress they experience also decreases their chances of stress-induced heart problems, etc,” said Marr.
“Another example is insomnia. Sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke; it also significantly impacts our day-to-day lives. The scent of cherry is known to help with insomnia, relaxing your mind and aiding with sleep,” said Marr.
While a pleasant scent can promote a positive mood, an overpowering scent can have the opposite effect. Take fragrance shops for example. They are filled with hundreds of high-end fragrances. But, sampling multiple fragrances can begin to feel overwhelming and make it difficult to distinguish one scent from the next, also known as olfactory fatigue. For some, it can also cause a bit of anxiety. This is why many fragrance shops keep small bowls of coffee beans, to ‘cleanse the palate’ or dilute the overwhelming combination of scents.
Similar to fragrance shops, we enter many environments where the scent, good or bad, is overpowering. Unless you want to carry around a handful of coffee beans, Chaundra Smith, owner of Naturally Me, suggests carrying a small valve of your favorite essential oil in your purse or car.
“When it comes to mood altering scents, I recommend essential oils over fragrance oils because they are natural and are extracted directly from the fruit or flower,” said Smith.
- Lavender and neroli promote relaxation
- Lemongrass and rosemary promote concentration
- Roman chamomile and juniper promote calmness
- Cinnamon and basil promote focus
- Sweet orange promotes cheer and happiness
- Patchouli acts as an aphrodisiac and promotes “positive vibes”
Essential oils are also known to have the most healing properties. Smith suggests using the essential oil in a warmer or burning it in a candle if possible. You can also use a soap made with essential oil to calm down after a long day or to boost your mood in the morning.