9 Aromas that’ll boost your health at home
Ever taken a whiff of freshly brewed coffee and felt instantly more awake and perky? Does a certain soap or body lotion take you back to a time in your life? It’s all because of the way our brains are structured, and the good news is we can use it to our advantage: to boost health, wellbeing and mood.
The science of scent
Odours have a significant and immediate effect on our thoughts and behaviours. Smelling pleasant scents, in general gives us a positive boost – for example one study reported people were more likely to help a stranger in the presence of pleasant aromas.
So which aromas are the best uplifters?
The scent of peppermint can make us feel more alert. It also reduces smoker’s cravings and studies have found smelling peppermint can also help us with tedious physical tasks, such as routine workouts – enhancing performance and reducing perceived effort. Try a cup of peppermint tea, or a dab of peppermint oil on your wrists or temples.
Another ‘alertness’ herb, the scent is also touted for improving long-term memory (the old adage: “Rosemary for rememberance” is based on this). Handy to know when doing your taxes and you can’t remember why you saved a receipt!
Tip: this is a lovely herb to plant in the garden, easy to grow and smells divine.
Eucalyptus oil increases blood flow to the brain which helps improve mental performance. Its invigorating aroma is great for ‘clearing a stuffy head’ both literally and figuratively – try inhaling a few drops on a tissue, or vaporised in a bowl of hot water when you need to focus or are feeling unwell.
The scent of lemons helps improve concentration – try sipping lemon tea if you’re working or studying, use lemon juice for cleaning and place lemons in a bowl on the kitchen table.
The smell of coffee does indeed wake us up, and it’s not all placebo effect. One study showed coffee smells enhanced the performance of sleep-deprived rats, and they haven’t seen a single coffee ad on television.
The scent of oranges reduces feelings of anxiety. Teaching someone to drive? Try a natural orange air-freshener in the car (for you, and them).
Jasmine improves mood and promotes feelings of wellbeing – perhaps that’s why it always feels so blissful to sit in a garden with jasmine plants, especially in summer.
The queen of relaxing scents, dozens of studies have proven lavender oil’s calming effect on the central nervous system. Add it to your bedroom (you can get it in an Oil or Spray) by spraying your pillows or dabbing on a tissue to keep under your pillow, or try a capful in the bath. It will help create the perfect atmosphere for winding down and a blissful sleep.