Just as people have preferences for certain foods and colors, we have preferences for smells that appeal to us based on the feelings or mood that the odors encourage. While aromas impact everyone differently, exposure to certain scents can influence a person emotionally, thereby impacting their health, wellbeing, and even their productivity.
Most of us can name at least one scent that doesn’t appeal to us, even if we don’t fully comprehend why. The scent of sandalwood may remind someone of a fabulous first date, yet bring another individual back to a childhood incident they wish to forget. Smells are extremely powerful: they can illicit feelings of fear and melancholy or create a wash of blissful, positive memories from a nostalgic experience.
The reason that odors encourage positive or negative responses isn’t just exposure to the scent itself: it’s the memories associated with the smell. This process is known as associated learning, and it relates to an event or memory that is strongly associated with a particular odor.
Associated learning explains how humans attach emotion to a smell and helps us to understand how odors are either enjoyed or rejected. This learning style sheds light on the moods and emotions provoked by specific smells and can help us to recognize the full range of impressions that carefully-selected scents can have on our overall wellbeing, motivation, and performance. Through associated learning and some inherent fragrance properties, scents have an enormous amount of power – the trick lies in learning how to use them effectively.
Mindful Use of Common Scents
Research suggests that the use of scented oils can provide health benefits including improved awareness, energy, sleep aid, relaxation, and relief from anxiety and depression. Despite personal preferences and experiences, select fragrances and blends are known to bring about consistently positive effects.
Peppermint: An invigorating scent that is known to increase brain activity, many use the smell of peppermint to assist with waking up or increasing energy levels. Researchers in West Virginia have shown that people can complete exercises quicker and finish more repetitive movements in less time with the help of peppermint.
Jasmine: Often used as an aid for sleep, jasmine can create a more energetic state for waking up in the morning. It’s been found that by putting a few drops of jasmine or lavender oil in a scent machine or diffuser, you can enjoy a more restful night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.
Lavender: Known for its relaxing abilities, the oil from the lavender plant can calm those with a tendency for nervousness and can help relieve insomnia.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits of scenting. Easy to use scent machines can allow you to quickly experience the benefits of fragrance and utilize scents to positively influence your mind and body. Find the unique scent combination that works for you and you’ll elevate your living or working space and your mental state.