Of the traditional five senses, our sense of smell may seem elusive but may have more power than we realize. For example, our sense of smell can bring back powerful memories. When I smell rose, I remember my grandmother who I only knew when I was a small child under the age of seven. Despite my young age, the smell of rose brings back vivid memories of my grandmother with her gray hair pulled back in a bun, sitting in front of her giant dresser in her bedroom applying the rose cream to her wrists. That rose smell captured an image and memory that would be forgotten without the scent to recall it. I also have a very sensitive nose and certain types of cologne actually give me physical responses and make me feel nauseous. Not to mention the smell Ralph Lauren’s Polo cologne brings back horrid memories of high school causing me such a repellent reaction that I want to vacate the premises near anyone wearing it.
In addition to being a trigger of memories, the power of scent can also aid in your success and help change your mood. In the morning the smell of coffee seems to perk me up before I even take the first sip. According to Psychology Today, “particular scents seem to be able to help our brain perform at its best. Enhanced cognitive ability has been linked to the smells of chocolate and coffee. The odor of chocolate or coffee also seems to improve performance on clerical-type work tasks.” I tend to use half caffeine or decaf because the strength of full caffeine makes me jittery. But perhaps it is the smell of coffee more than the caffeine that helps me begin my day.
Additionally, the Psychology Today article discusses research for scents that aid with memory, “Smelling rosemary increases alertness and improves long-term memory according to researchers from the United Kingdom. The scent of common garden sage has also been shown to enhance alertness and memory.”
Peppermint oil is also a great essential oil to have on hand. Peppermint can be used to ease a range of discomforts. According to spryliving.com, “Peppermint is a natural analgesic,” says Michelle Goebel-Angel, Chinese Medicine practitioner at the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern in Chicago. “I’ll use it to treat headaches in my patients, as well as nausea or digestive issues.” I’ve used peppermint essential oils by placing a few drops on my temples or the back the neck for headache relief, or rub it on the abdomen to ease stomach pain. Just wash your hands and don’t touch your eyes as it can make your eyes burn.
Psychology Today also found that, “Researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University, lead by Raudenbush, have learned that smelling peppermint improves how well we do tedious, clerical type tasks, as well as the speed at which they are completed. Additional research at the same university with peppermint indicates that its odor improves performance on monotonous athletic tasks while reducing the effort people feel they are expending on them. It has also been linked to feeling more alert and enhanced memory. Smelling peppermint also seems to reduce cravings for cigarettes.”
A final common but useful scent is lemon. In addition to using it for household cleaning, lemon has a calming effect and has been shown to improve mental performance. Psychology Today cited research where dementia patients were less agitated and had an improved quality of life after using a lotion scented with lemon balm.”
In addition to essential oils, herbal teas are a great way to capture powerful aromas. For example, try some peppermint tea in the afternoon when you need a pick-me-up to feel more alert. Remember, there are many fragrances that you can leverage to improve your mood, memory and success.
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