The power of scent: supercharge your energy levels, motivation & more

Like magic, scent can enhance your physical, mental and emotional energy levels. We reveal the olfactory delights that will give you the right boost just when you need it most.


You might be wondering how does scent help energy? The answer involves some fairly complicated science, but on the other hand, is also quite simple. Research has shown that scents literally get absorbed into the body via the nose, travelling straight into the central nervous system which then connects with our brain and tells us how we feel. And by the very nature of fragrance being able to manipulate our mood and emotions, another by-product is that our energy levels will move in the same direction.  


And while it is true that when lots of different scents are combined together, we have different reactions (which is why we don’t all like the same perfume) when it comes to single fragrance notes there are some that affect everyone in the same way. A study was carried out at the Kangwon National University in South Korea to prove this exact fact. Participants all smelt the same single note ingredient while being connected to a brain monitor that then registered any brain activity. For every note that was sniffed, the same section of each participant’s brain engaged and reacted in some way. Garlic and cumin, for example, were shown to reduce activity in the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls attention. Whereas peppermint and ylang-ylang were shown to increase the activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that boosts productivity. Proving that certain scents have a direct impact on our energy levels. There are those that will lift us up when we need more energy and others can help bring energy levels down.  


We asked expert perfumers and scent experts at Firmenich, the largest privately-owned fragrance company in the world and who Rituals works with to create fragrances, to share the specific scents we need to help keep our energy levels in check. 


Citrus for energy 

The aim is to wake up feeling refreshed, but not every night can be a good night’s sleep. If you need a little extra help in the morning to boost your energy levels reach for zesty citrus notes. “Citrus brings a sparkling freshness that gets your brain tingling and gives you a real energy boost in the morning,” says perfumer, Elise Benat who has created fragrances for Rituals. So, whether that’s breathing in the sweet orange in The Ritual of Mehr Foaming Shower Gel or energising your skin with The Ritual of Mehr Body Scrub you can turn your morning shower into a way to power boost the start of your day. 


Coffee for focus 

It is perhaps apt that coffee is the note that helps focus the mind. “We carried out a recent study conducted across 11 countries and it revealed that people link coffee to energetic benefits,” says Fabien Craignou from the Consumer Insights team. He recommends smelling it in its purest form via your morning cup of coffee and really taking time to inhale the aroma and let it penetrate your system, rather than mindlessly glugging it down.  


Cardamom for courage 

Whenever you need to control your nervous energy, maybe you’re about to walk into an important meeting or you’ve got to have a confrontational conversation, cardamom is your confidence-boosting friend. “This is a real secret perfumer tip, but smelling cardamom will help clear your mind and boost your focus. It has a really cold, spicy freshness to it and it will help get you ready to tackle any challenge ahead of you,” explains perfumer, Wessel-Jan Kos. It makes the Private Collection Green Cardamom a great option for scenting your office or anywhere you need to feel confident.  


Woods for calm 

If your energy levels feel quite frenetic, then you need a scent that can calm anxiety. Just as forest bathing is a brilliant act of mindfulness, earthy and woody scents can have the same grounding impact. “Woody notes have been shown to have mental calming and relaxing properties: it can either be creamy sandalwood that has a very feminine, nearly lactonic woodiness or cedar wood which, due to its dry facets, is associated as a rather masculine wood,” says Kos. Both can be found in essential oil format, place a few drops in the palms of your hands, rub them together and cup your hands to your nose and take a few deep calming breaths. You can also find sandalwood in our unisex L'Éclat eau de parfum.


Lavender and sage for sleep 

At night, when you need energy levels to lower there are definite zen-inducing scents that can help. “Our studies have shown that the olfactive materials classified as aromatics score very highly when it comes to their relaxation capabilities,” explains Craignou. “The most popular example is lavender which is really good for soothing the mind and another, perhaps less well-known one, is sage. Sage is really good for clearing the mind and helping you relax.” The Ritual of Jing Pillow & Body Mist contains lavender making it ideal for incorporating into your nightly winding-down routine. 


This article is part of our energy masterclass, to help you fill your life with positive energy and unlock your full potential. For a more positive outlook on life, our energy masterclass reveals everything you need to know to energise your body, mind and soul in small, easy, ways. Delve into our series of inspiring articles, videos and an exclusive soundscape - designed to help you feel more energised - that can be completed individually or as a 72-hour masterclass.