Time and again the power of scent has proven to be quite exceptional. It’s the strongest of the senses and is able to influence brain activity more than you even realize. When the olfactory system is stimulated, it sends signals to the part of your brain that controls emotions and processes memories. This is why you are immediately transported back in time when you smell a specific fragrance. But, did you know that the chemicals released from smelling certain smells can actually work wonders for your well-being? Some smells can boost productivity, some can improve your sleep habits, and others can even relieve anxiety and depression. Which scents in particular have these miraculous capabilities?
Here’s 9 scents that improve your overall well-being, without even trying.
The warm, delicious smell of vanilla is more than just a pleasantry for your nose. Researchers have actually found that a whiff of vanilla is quite the relaxant. Participants of the study by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF) reported elevated feelings of joy and relaxation, and I can definitely agree. The sweet scent of a vanilla candle definitely puts me at ease.
Getting a better night’s sleep is the aspiration of us all. With lavender, that dream can become a reality. Studies have shown consistently that lavender is a helpful aid in treating insomnia and even depression. Try putting a lavender-scented air freshener near your bed for some seriously sound shuteye.
You already know that citrus is the scent of all scents. Of its beneficial properties, it’s ability to energize you and elevate your mood are probably the most prevalent. Citrus scent is great to incorporate onto your desk at work, to keep you awake and positive throughout the day.
Peppermint is just what the doctor ordered if you’re feeling sluggish or are lacking focus. The minty fresh scent can make you feel more refreshed, alert, and stimulated. A study from Wheeling Jesuit University found that a whiff of peppermint could be linked to better cognitive stamina, motivation, and even overall performance. It’s used as a test-taking aid for students, and can even help with respiratory and digestive ailments.
An apple a day indeed does keep the doctor away—when it comes to headaches that is. Research has shown that the smell of apple can help ease the pain of a migraine. Try hanging an apple-scented air freshener in your car for when you’re stuck in those headache-inducing traffic backups.
6. Freshly-Cut Grass
Good news for those with overgrown lawns! Neuroscientists at the University of Queensland found that the smell of freshly cut grass can bring forth feelings of happiness and relaxation. What’s better for your well-being than positive feelings AND a good-looking lawn?
Even more of a reason to leave your Christmas tree up after the holidays; the smell of pine could be reducing our anxiety. This Japanese study showed participants who went on a walk through pine forests had significantly lower stress levels and boosted feelings of relaxation after indulging in the scent.
A study from Wheeling Jesuit University found that sniffing cinnamon can improve cognitive functions, like visual-motor response, working memory, and attention span. If you’re fighting mental fatigue, say, after a long work week or during finals, light up a cinnamon-scented candle.
A series of studies from the Human Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University revealed that exposure to floral scents, especially jasmine and rose, can increase your association with happy thoughts. Powerful and positive emotions arise, while feelings of nervousness or depression are quieted.
I think it’s safe to say that scent is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it’s able to invoke changes in our mental and emotional state, and of course our overall well-being. When it comes to the science of smell, taking time to stop and smell the roses can actually make you a happier, more relaxed person.