How often do you find yourself reaching out for that scented candle at the supermarket? The aisle of fragrances draws you to it like a magnet, enticing you to splurge on tangy citrus scents, floral perfumes, woody cologne and aromatic essential oils. Just one whiff of those bottled elixirs are enough to have you smiling and to give a happy spring in your step.
Researchers have been trying to put a finger on what is it about fragrances and aromas that alter our moods and emotions so significantly. The answer lies in the direct connection of our olfactory nerves with the limbic system of our brain. The limbic system governs the part of our brain that deals with emotions, drives and learning. What this means is smell is easily able to influence our moods and emotions. In fact, the association of smell with memory is so strong that the loss of smell is one of the first signs of the onset of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The next time you find yourself unable to focus, concentrate, de-stress, or relax, know that you can rely on aromatherapy. Certain fragrances activate the hypothalamus of the brain which in turn sends signals to other parts of the body.
The hormones from the hypothalamus govern physiological functions such as temperature regulation, thirst, hunger, sleep, mood, sex drive, and the release of other hormones within the body.
They are also known to reduce stress-induced aches and pains in the muscles, especially in the shoulders. As a bonus, they also have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that keep sickness at bay and increase your productivity.
Citrus scents like lemon and orange are known to substantially reduce anxiety and stress. This calming flavour also promotes concentration and boosts immunity and circulation through its antibacterial characteristics. The delicate smell of lavender controls emotional stress and relieves depression while its floral sibling, jasmine, calms the nerves, provides a surge of confidence, optimism and revitalised energy.
Also hailing from the natural aromatherapy family is rosemary. There’s no better way of starting a new day than by taking in a whiff of the oil extracts from the herb. It increases alertness, takes care of headaches, pains and muscle aches and fights exhaustion while heightening memory retention. There’s nothing more that can be asked for while preparing for a long, challenging and productive day at work.
The woody, fruity scent of cinnamon promotes focus and concentration while relieving mental fatigue. Finally, we have peppermint which is an instant dose of energy and invigoration. A sniff of this essential oil aids brainstorming sessions and clears the thought process.
Now that it has been established the effect of the right fragrances in lives, all we need to do is use them right. Invest in a diffuser or a mister wherein a few drops of the solution are added, and the device slowly and gradually lets the fragrance spread across the room. This will leave you feeling fresh, rejuvenated and focused all day.
However, in many cases the work space is often shared by many individuals and your personal preferences may not be liked by others. In such cases, a drop or two of the essential oil on a ball of cotton can provide that instant burst of the needed refreshment; a quick, personal and effective solution. If, however, you find yourself in a group discussion or a brainstorming session, know that you can rely on some of these essential oils to keep you focused. Add a few drops of the oil or fragrance to a bowl of hot water, sit back and watch it work like magic.
The most practical option would be to invest in a good room freshener or air freshener spray. Personalise your living and working spaces with the scents that best suit your preferences. Be it rose, mint, musk, citrus or fruity scents, each of these fragrances have their own unique properties that will ensure that you can bid goodbye to stressful days.