Our senses are how we interact with the world. One of our most often ignored senses is the sense of smell. In our over-sanitized world smells are undesirable. Commercials tell us to Febreeze our curtains and buy lemon-scented garbage bags. We disinfect everything and cover our children using pocket-sized hand sanitizer. Western civilization has foregone scent in favor of extreme cleanliness, but to what end?
Studies have shown that our world doesn’t smell the way it used to. In one study out of the University of Virginia, the radius of the smell of flowers was measured. They discovered that the smell of flowers is travelling far shorter distances than in previous history. Industrial pollutants in the air are cancelling out the smells. While their potential distance is up to half a mile, in reality the smell is only travelling around 600 feet. We are living in a smell-blind world.
Smell is tied to the part of your brain associated with emotion and memory, the limbic system. Certain smells evoke memories. When you step out of your car near the ocean and you smell the salty sea air, you become flooded with memories of other times you were at the beach. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking reminds us of mom’s kitchen. Evergreens and pine recall warm Christmas thoughts by the tree.
Smell can evoke happy memories, elevate our mood, and improve our thoughts. Since our world is so devoid of smells, it makes sense to make a conscious effort to use scents to our advantage. Aromatherapy is a powerful tool to improve your thoughts. Since every smell is a personal experience, experiment with essential oils to determine which are your favorite scents for improving your mood. Start with some basic essential oil scents:
- For calmness and relaxation: lavender, chamomile, vanilla, chamomile, frankincense
- For Energy: peppermint, lemon, black pepper
- For happiness and balance: geranium, rose
- Stimulating and uplifting: rosemary
- For health when sick: eucalyptus, tea tree
Try opening a bottle of essential oil the next time you have a headache. Add some lavender oil to your laundry the next time you wash your sheets. Try an essential oil diffuser in your living room, kitchen, or bedroom.
You can use scents to elevate your mood in other ways.
Plant flowers in your garden. Find a scent you love and surround yourself with it. Once they bloom pick a few for a vase in your kitchen.