The smell of freshly laundered clothes, warm and toasty coffee, photocopied pages from books in the library, the salty breeze from the beach and bread that just came out of the oven are some of my favourite smells in the world. They evoke happy feelings deep down in my heart. These scents bring me back in time and paint cheerful pictures in my head. Life without smell would be awfully lonely for me.
Since the dawn of time, human thoughts, actions and emotions have been highly influenced by odours and scents. Our olfactory sense is closely related to our limbic system which has the amygdala and the hippocampus. The limbic system is one of the most primitive parts of the brain that is found even in prehistoric mammals and early cave men. It is associated with emotions and feelings and retaining memories. Thus through our noses, we can experience a whole variety of emotions and feelings and even recall distant memories.
Through our noses we experience the world with much more texture. It allows us to connect situations to feelings and thoughts. Smells evoke either pleasure or even warn us of impending danger. By using smells to uplift our senses, our minds can feel more positive and thus creating happier and more beautiful moments in life.
What is Aromatherapy?
The term aromatherapy was coined in 1937 by French perfumer Rene- Maurice Gattefosse. Aromatherapy basically using smells to heal and improve physical, psychological, emotional, cognitive and even spiritual aspects of human life. Aromatherapy has been present though, way before Gattefosse gave it its present name. The Indians have been utilizing this method to heal the mind, body in soul since the early Hindu civilization. Indians have used scents from enhancing their day to day life and even their food. The Chinese have used incense to connect with their deities and ancestors by using the smoke to move from this plain to the next. The Romans had scented baths. Egyptians royalty anointed themselves with essential oil and used fragrant milk to keep their skin beautiful. They embalmed their dead with mirth and frankincense and other perfumes.
Basically aromatherapy is a beautiful way to help you feel, think and live better. It helps you set a particular mood or feeling. It is an invigorating way of connecting to the deepest recesses of our minds and spirits in order to produce a positive atmosphere around us. Through aromatherapy we can recharge our auras and dispel negativity and improve our mood.
Uses of Aromatherapy
Through aromatherapy we can have a more positive outlook in life and be able to connect more to our senses. Scientific studies have proven that pleasant smells can really induce a happy sensation as well as brighter outlook in life. By using our sense of smell to produce positive memories and feelings, we can also replicate these moods by reintroducing scents that evoke memories.
- Massage and Aromatherapy – One of the most common uses of aromatherapy is producing a much more invigorating and relaxing spa session by enhancing the ambiance. When we get a massage that has aromatherapy, we not only remove the stress through touch therapy and applying pressure to stress points, we also deepen the massage by associating a relaxing experience to a good memory. We are more likely to feel relieved when we are able to smell scents such as lavender and chamomile as well as peppermint during a massage. This also allows us to remember that stress free moment much more.
- Meditation – Meditation is the path of removing stress from our hearts, grounding our minds and letting our spirits free. Aside from music, aromatherapy can lead into a more blissful meditation. Smells such as orange, rose, sandalwood and lavender can help us focus more in our meditative states. These scents also can assist us into getting into more positive thoughts. According to a study from Brown University, when we are exposed to pleasant smells, even in difficult situations we tend to feel more at ease.
- Bath Time – Turn your small bathroom to a sweet spot by using scented candles or oil burners or even incense to feel more relaxed during bath or shower time. You can also buy shampoo that makes you smile as you sniff it. Scented shower gels or even soaps that have great scents can really help you enjoy showering more. Even if you just spend five minutes in the shower, having some nice smelling stuff can really help uplift your mood. It can help you feel more positive even if you’d rather not go to work or school because these scents automatically switches your mind into a happy zone.
- Studying or Working – Using aromatherapy is a very good idea to improve memory and focus during studying or working. It allows your mind to concentrate more in memorizing and analysing things. It also helps you be more relaxed to be able to come up with solutions to problems. Some scents help you be more creative such as vanilla and cinnamon and cardamom as well as peppermint and eucalyptus. You can definitely feel great about studying rather than dreading it and fretting deadlines. Even if you feel a little stressed, through stress busting scents you can reduce your anxiety. Reading whether for study or leisure can also improve through aromatherapy because the scents and smells you get activates your brain to have a deeper experience.
- Everyday Menial Tasks – You can improve your day to day mood by spritzing yourself with your favourite cologne or perfume. You can also create an atmosphere of positivity in your car by using a relaxing scent such as water scents like ocean, rain or morning scents. If you mainly stay at home as a housewife or a home-based worker, you can create an ambience that would make you feel less bored or alone. You can use lemon or ginger scents to create a good charge in your surroundings. When you do the laundry, choose a detergent that makes you feel uplifted. Adding a fabric conditioner can also help make your clothes an experience to wear. Fabric softeners can also make your sheets soft and help you sleep better.
- Sleeping Time – A lot of people cannot sleep well. Insomnia is one of the biggest problems of today’s working man and woman. A lot of people do not realize that sometimes, the smell of a musty bed can hamper you from achieving a good night’s rest. Try to change the sheets at least once a week and make sure your beddings and pillows smell fresh and clean. You can also take a scented bath to feel great and fall asleep faster. Use a humidifier with a scent diffuser to help you have relaxing dreams.
Best Aromatherapy Scents
Aromatherapy is basically using your nose to heal your mind, body and soul. Although there are many common scents that most people prefer, personal preference is still very important. Try to find scents that evoke happy memories in your childhood such as vanilla that may remind you of a birthday cake that you used to have or the scent of morning because you loved playing early on weekends back then.
Basically there are four major groups of scents in aromatherapy. These are woodsy or earthen, floral, fruity and watery scents. Wooden scents evoke emotions and calmness. They also are very good for removing negativity and enhancing your mood. Floral scents are great for creating feeling of love and calmness. Fruity scents are great for those who want to recharge their minds and also want to do creative tasks. Lastly, watery scents are great for recalling the past as well as for meditating. Some also classify scents into two basic groups such as stimulating or relaxing. Stimulating scents help your brain to open up. It calms anxiety but also allows you to be more energized and focused. Relaxing scents helps you let go of your stress and worries by lowering cortisol in your blood and also allowing your mind to go into a safe mode rather fight or flight mode.
Here are the best scents to help you with your aromatherapy journey:
- Lemon – This very energizing scent helps you feel happy and fresh all over. It gives you a natural mood boost by helping you release energy. Lemon of course is typically a good source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, hence our mind relates that to good health and wellbeing. It is also a natural disinfectant and deodorant. It can banish strong smells in your house. It is a good scent for meditation and studying.
- Peppermint – This scent is both uplifting and relaxing. The cool relaxing scent can also pick you up naturally because when we smell a minty smell our brain relates that to wakefulness and alertness. It is good when we feel sick or sad or even agitated.
- Eucalyptus – Much like Peppermint, eucalyptus has a minty, cool smell. The odour of this essence can improve your immune system, fight fatigue and anxiety, get rid of stuffy sinuses or can even be used as a muscle relaxant. Eucalyptus can be used in tea to invigorate you and wake you up without taking in caffeine.
- Lavender – This is the most popular relaxing scent. This scent helps you go into a relaxing mood. It reduces stress by helping you detach your mind from the memory of stressors. Lavender is a very powerful scent and herb that can calm your soul and help you meditate or even fall asleep. It can also be mixed with other scents to create a scent cocktail that is both relaxing and joyful.
- Rose – The smell of the rose has always been associated with love and romance. You can use it in your bath by mixing a few drops of essential oil into the tub or to a plain shower gel. It can be used to create a romantic ambience. You can burn rose candles for those candle lit dinner dates to help your date to like you more. Studies suggest that if we smell this scent while with someone who we are slightly attracted to, our feelings often intensify.
- Sandalwood – This earthy, woodsy scent is very spiritual and cleansing in nature. It is not overpowering and gives a subtle note that helps you meditate better. It is a good scent to put in your workspace to help concentration and relaxation. Sandalwood can be used to fight negativity as well.
- Kasturi or Musk – In India, they use the sweat glands of some male deer to get that musky scent. Nowadays they can use a variety of plants to reproduce this scent. It is a very spiritual aroma used for weddings and birthdays. It is also used for meditation and praying. When used as an incense, the Kasturi gives a very subtle yet therapeutic scent that can banish loneliness. It is also good for those who wish to create a subtle romantic feel.
- Jasmine – Jasmine has always been associated with psychic gifts and grounding. It is a cleansing scent that can help clear the third eye chakra. It is also a natural anti-depressant. It can be used when trying to communicate with the departed. Jasmine can be infused in tea to help you relax and fall asleep faster.
- Ocean Scent – This scent is a mixture of flowers and herbs that give you the smell of the sea. It is very calming and can help transport you to a peaceful seaside. It is a good way to fight stress while working and can help boost creativity.
- Vanilla – One of the most delicious scents ever, vanilla can be a scent used to help women attract men to like them more. Vanilla reminds us of warm happy childhood memories. It can be used as an infused scent for your clothes to feel happy all through your day. Vanilla can also help you feel cheerful and kind. This scent naturally unlocks your friendliness and helps fight being shy.
- Rosemary – This is one of the best stimulating scents. Rosemary can help you concentrate better and fight mental fatigue. It can help boost your energy and drive. It is a great scent to help you fight work stress and help you achieve your goals more. The scent of the rosemary is also good for increasing memory retention and helps you answer tests better.
- Chamomile – This herb is normally infused in tea but also used in potpourri or incense. It helps you fall asleep faster by helping your body produce more melatonin. It can create a calming feeling when you feel like everything is becoming too stressful.
There are many ways we can introduce aromatherapy to promote positivity in our lives. We can use incense, essential oils and oil burners, scent diffusers, sprays and perfumes to introduce a relaxing ambience around us. Everyday things such as clothes, laundry detergents, shower gels, soaps and even food can be infused with scents to help us experience life on a deeper note. I know that aromatherapy is normally not on the top of the list of most people when it comes to wellness, but I promise using this method can really help us live a happier and healthier life.