Does the slightly sweet, waxy smell of a box of crayons instantly transport you back to the excited nerves you felt on your first day of school? Or maybe the scent of candy floss wafting through the air reminds you of childhood trips to the drive in. There’s no doubt that specific smells can trigger old memories and feelings – there’s even a name for it: olfactory memory.
Scientists say it’s because the olfactory bulb, where smells are processed, is connected to the parts of the brain that are involved in processing both memory and emotions. If the connection between smell, memory and mood is so strong, that explains why particular scents can have a positive – or negative – impact on your mood. Nervous, overly-excited or just feeling shattered? Here’s which essential oil scents to turn to.
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Struggling to sleep?
It’s not just a cup of chamomile tea that sets you up for a good night’s rest – smelling chamomile can have a similar sedative effect. Lavender is well known for promoting relaxation and inducing drowsiness, and valerian will do the same.
Need an energy boost?
Forget brain fog, a good whiff of peppermint will help you through an afternoon slump and has the added benefit of making your mind feel more alert – win, win! Another tasty aroma you can turn to is cinnamon, which works to ‘wake up’ your brain. And, when ingested (the spice, not the essential oil!) it can help stabilise blood sugar levels and even take the edge off that post-lunch energy slump.
Are you stressed?
Citrus should be your go-to scent if you’re feeling overwhelmed or overworked. Lemon is thought to reduce stress levels and improve mood, while other citrus scents will help lessen anxiety, make you feel calmer and even make you more motivated and productive.
Need a hit of confidence?
One of the top notes of the classic Chanel No 5 fragrance is bergamot, known for its ability to promote a sense of happiness and wellbeing, so it’s no surprise that the scent is associated with giving its wearer a boost of confidence.
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Down in the dumps?
The herbal-sweet aroma of lavender (yes, the same scent that helps you sleep – see above) is known for its ability to relieve anxiety and lift your mood. After conducting studies, researchers found that people who inhaled lavender essential oil regularly for a period of four weeks experienced lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression – and that’s enough to convince us to give it a go!
Need to remember something?
If you need to stimulate your brain activity, try rosemary. A study showed that it helped students to better recall numbers they were asked to memorise. So spritz some rosemary essential oils in the air when you need to remember something important.