Have you ever noticed how a certain scent can conjure up a lovely memory or a beautiful moment? It’s a feeling that can transport you to a different time and place, and there’s a good reason for this. Namely, scent is strongly connected to our emotions, and you can use this fact to your advantage. If you need help concentrating at work, or if you’re experiencing sleepless nights—scent has the power to help. The influence of fragrance is bigger than you think and can positively affect body and soul.
Our sense of smell is by far not as good as that of animals—after all, a dog has 200 million olfactory receptors while a human has “only” 5 million—however, scent does have a powerful effect on us. This is most likely an evolutionary remnant, developed during a time when scent played an important role in survival. Primitive tribes depended on their sense of smell to warn them about enemies and to find food.
Scent and emotions
Even today, scent plays a role in survival. Think about gas leaks: if you smell one on time, it can be the difference between life and death. And perhaps you think you’ve chosen the love of your life based on looks, but in reality, it was probably pheromones that attracted you. This is because scent has such a tremendous impact on falling in love and on our emotions in general. The nose is the only organ that has an almost direct influence on our emotions because it is closely linked to the amygdala, otherwise known as the emotional centre in our brain.
Scent is also strongly linked to memory. We all know the feeling that can suddenly overwhelm you when, for example, you smell a certain sunscreen that reminds you of that one summer holiday. Or perhaps you get a whiff of the perfume your mother always wears and are instantly transported back to your childhood home. The French writer Marcel Proust described this effect as far back as 100 years ago in his book À la recherche du temps perdu, translated into English as In Search of Lost Time. This is why the concept of scent influencing your mood is also sometimes referred to as the Proust effect. Your subconscious builds a personal scent database that connects a certain scent to a specific memory, which stirs up an emotion. When you smell this scent, your memory recognition is activated. The feeling that is triggered by a scent and the memories they conjure can also lead to a certain behavior.
Add these scents to your daily routine and reap the benefits
With this knowledge, you can use scent to your advantage and incorporate it into your daily life. Are you stressed and needing more peace? Lavender could be the answer, because this purple plant is known for relaxing muscles and nerves, and therefore has an overall calming and restful effect. Lavender could be considered a miracle plant, because its scent appears to help alleviate insomnia and pain, while also releasing “feel good” hormones throughout your bloodstream which make you feel happier.
Could you use help concentrating at work? Time to give peppermint oil a try. Even if you’re rushing to the gym after a long work day, peppermint is a good choice, because research suggests that it can positively influence your performance. And this fact may be the most useful: peppermint can work wonders on hangovers.
Eucalyptus is another scent that can help improve concentration, and is even a well-known home, garden and kitchen solution to help you breathe better when you have a bad cold. Do you suffer from nightmares? Then the scent of flowers is worth a try, because research has indicated that it can cause more positive dreams.
Create a relaxing atmosphere in your home
An innovative way to integrate different fragrances into your home can be found in the Rituals Perfume Genie: a stylish, wireless and ingenious perfume diffuser. The Genie allows you to control the timing and intensity of your home fragrance whenever and wherever you happen to be, thanks to an app on your phone. It also adds a chic touch to your interior and can be operated manually if desired. Available in six different fragrances, you can alternate them to create a peaceful atmosphere at home.
You can read more about the relaxing effects of home fragrance here.