The Magic of Scents
The magic of scents actually begins with your sense of smell. Because of the way your sense of smell works, it is far more powerful than most of us are aware. Your sense of smell and taste are both chemical senses. Interestingly enough, people who lose their sense of smell often lose their sense of taste. If they don't completely lose it, it is still significantly affected by the inability to smell. The sense of smell is indeed an essential part of the human experience.
However, there is another thing that makes your sense of smell stand out from the other senses – it is the close connection between this sense and the part of your brain that is involved in the creation of memories and feelings. This part of the brain is the often referred to as the limbic system.
This connection of smell to the limbic system is one of the reasons aromatherapy works so well for healing – it directly activates the part of your brain that makes you feel. The magic of scents also helps you remember good things – like your grandma's cooking or the smell of your father's cologne –long after they are gone.
Every person has different scents that trigger happy and relaxing memories for them. While lemongreen may bring about memories of grandma's hugs for one person, it may not be as calming a scent for another. The magic of scents can also trigger bad memories. This is true for instance in the case of veterans with PTSD. Studies have found that, although veterans have seen many terrible things, much of their trauma is linked to scent.
Some scents have direct therapeutic effects as well. Aroma molecules were shown to change brain activity, as measured by EEG. Lavender, for example, was shown to decrease the activity of the system in our brain that is in charge of stress (the sympathetic system), to elicit relaxation and to increase performance.
How can the magic of scents improve your well being?
Focus on the smells that make you feel relaxed and calm. Find out which scents trigger feelings of calm or feelings of happiness – integrate those scents into your life, especially when you are feeling anxious or stressed. You can use these scents in aroma diffusers, perfumes, candles, and more. They can help with relaxation in general and may help with calming meditation.
Devices like CalmiGo, which combines relaxing breathing techniques with stress relieving aromatherapy, work to ease your worries because they activate the system in your brain that is in charge of relaxation, using breathing and your senses.
The next time anxiety and stress begin to overwhelm you, take a moment to breathe in the scents around you. Is it one of those scents that is triggering your anxiety? Surround yourself with a calming scent every time you're suffering from stress or anxiety.