5 Powerful Scents that Promote Mental Wellness
Do you have a favorite smell? Turns out, there may be a scientific reason behind it! Read on to find out.
The sense of smell plays an important role in our lives. From the confidence boost that comes with a spritz of your signature perfume to the aromatic ambiance that lighting candles in your home creates, our sense of smell can bring back memories, warn us of danger and affect our mental state.
Smell can powerfully impact the physiological effects of stress, mood and working capacity. Aromatherapy has been used as a healing tool for centuries, and modern fragrance compounds have been used for the treatments of various psychological and physical disorders such as headaches, pain, insomnia, eczema, stress-induced anxiety, depression and digestive problems.1
The positive effects of aromatherapy are instantaneous- studies have shown that fragrant stimulation can produce immediate changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse rate and brain activity.2
The healing powers of aroma can be absorbed through many different approaches. Essential oil diffusers are a popular option and oil kits can be easily and inexpensively bought on Amazon! A tried-and-true favorite, candles are unmatched when it comes to warming up a space and filling a room with your chosen aroma. Sprays and perfumes can temporarily envelop your senses for those who want to take their scents on the road. Last but not least, you can nurture fragrant herbs yourself (our recommendation)!
However, you get your fragrance fix, these five powerful scents are guaranteed to make a positive impact on your well-being, physically and mentally:
Everyone knows that peppermint cures bad breath, but did you know that it is also able to invigorate the mind? This classic scent can boost energy, stimulate concentration and promote clear-thinking. A study found that inhaling the scent of peppermint greatly reduced the group’s perceived level of mental fatigue and burnout.5 Peppermint is the perfect motivational aid for study sessions and long workdays when you need a little extra mental stamina.
Trying to quell your coffee addiction? Try a whiff of rosemary! This energizing fragrance is a mighty early-morning pick-me-up. Rosemary’s stimulating properties battle feelings of physical and mental fatigue while also boosting your memory. Researchers have found that when someone smells rosemary, their short-term memory was enhanced as well as cognitive function.4 Exactly what we need on those mornings when it feels a little tougher than usual to get out of bed.
Odds are, you’ve heard of the relaxation qualities of lavender- it’s one of the most popular scents in bath, beauty and home products! And for good reason- this intoxicating, soothing fragrance can calm the mind and senses within the first sniff. Lavender is renowned for relieving nervous tension, depression, and headaches. However, its most beneficial use is its ability to treat insomnia. In a study of 42 college students, researchers found that it effectively eased sleep problems in the participants.2 Try sprinkling your pillowcase with lavender essential oil or placing a couple of lavender sprigs on your bedside table to create a spa-like sanctuary within your own bedroom!
Similar to lavender, this little flower produces an aroma used to calm nerves, but it also provides some powerful mood perks. Jasmine’s fragrance can produce feelings of alertness, self-confidence, positivity and strength. Studies have found that this scent can even help prevent depressive thoughts and lead to an uplifted mood.3 Keep some jasmine blooms around as the winter months approach to combat seasonal depression!
This famous, delicious smell reminds us all of sweet, sugary desserts and usually has happy childhood memories attached to it- the perfect combination for a joyful and relaxed mind! A whiff of vanilla bean can stabilize heart rates and blood pressure while elevating feelings of calmness and contentment.6 What could be better than your home smelling like fresh-baked cookies, right?
Give aromatherapy a try! Experiment with different scents and see which ones you benefit most from. We would love to hear which one is your favorite- tag @liveTruLyfe on Instagram and let us know!
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, et al.Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008; Apr; 33(3):328-39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18178322/
- Sowndhararajan, K., et al. Scientia Pharmaceutica. 2016;84(4), 724–751. https://doi.org/10.3390/scipharm84040724
- Lee, I. S., et al.Taehan Kanho Hakhoe chi. 2006; 36(1), 136–143. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16520572/
- HongratanaworakitT. Natural Product Communications. 2010; 5(1), 157-162. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20184043/
- Moss, M., et al. 2003. The International Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;113(1), 15–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450390161903
- Varney, E., et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013;19(1), 69–71. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2012.0089
- Stephen Warrenburg. Chemical Senses, Volume 30. 2005 Jan.; i248–i249. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjh208