We often take our sense of smell for granted, but studies show that scents are closely linked to memory and can even impact moods and emotions. It’s fascinating to think that just inhaling a particular scent can transport us into a different time and place or put us in a different frame of mind. Read on to learn more about the benefits of “smell therapy” and how you may derive some benefits from taking time to stop and smell the flowers.
Smell And Memory
Scents can often bring up memories from long ago. For example, the smell of fresh cut grass might transport you back to a summer morning at your childhood home. This phenomenon occurs due to brain anatomy. Smells are first processed in the olfactory bulb, which runs along the bottom of the brain and through the nose, and this creates a response in the brain. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to both the amygdala and hippocampus which are responsible for memories and emotion. Several medical studies have shown that memories and emotions can be intensified by particular smells. For example, the scent of freshly-baked sugar cookies or an evergreen candle may bring back a flood of memories relating to happy holiday celebrations from decades ago.
A History Of Fragrance Therapy
Fragrance therapy, also commonly known as aromatherapy, is a process by which different scents are used to help stimulate the smell receptors in the brain and nose in order to positively impact mood and emotion. The fragrances employed in aromatherapy are often in oil form, and may be dabbed on the skin or inhaled using a diffuser. Aromatherapy isn’t actually a modern trend, this practice dates back thousands of years to Egypt, Greece and the Eastern world. Precious and fragrant oils were extracted from flowers and plants and were then used as perfumes, medicines and anointing oils. Today, aromatherapy is commonly used both as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with other practices such as massage, to help improve mood and well-being.
Smell And Mood
Spending time in a garden inhaling the naturally occurring fragrances can significantly boost overall happiness thanks to the stimulation of the scent receptors in your nose and brain. Whether you visit a local botanical garden or nursery or enjoy a friend’s plantings, taking time to stop and enjoy the fresh scents of florals and greens can be a significant mood-booster. Gardening doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Creating a container garden or freshening up a windowsill planter can be a rewarding hobby that also offers the benefits of fragrance therapy.
Taking It Home
Here are some suggestions for easy ways to try incorporating more fragrance into your life:
- Use a few drops of a scented oil in a diffuser, and experiment with different oils to see if you notice an impact on mood. For example, lavender may help you relax or sleep more soundly, peppermint may keep you more alert and rose may help you feel less anxious.
- Add a few drops of essential oils to a small spray bottle of water and spritz carpets, bedspread, and other textiles in your environment.
- Try adding a small amount of fragrance to a hot bath for a relaxing soak.
- Start a container garden at home with fragrant flowers and herbs such as lavender, rosemary or jasmine.
- Add a few drops of essential oils to an old t-shirt or cloth and add it to your dryer for lightly scented laundry.
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