The Scent That Can Transform Your Mood and Emotional Wellbeing

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A certain scent can transport you back to a different time and place. Think about the fragrance you wore in high school — how nostalgic do you feel when you smell that now? While you might think sight or taste is the strongest of the five senses, somewhat surprisingly, it’s actually smell. This sense has the power to affect your mood and emotional wellbeing in a literal whiff. That’s because smell has the strongest ties to your memory and emotion, with an estimated 75% of all emotions experienced during the day caused by smell. 

When it comes to your mood, some smells can do wonders to enhance it. In fact, research shows that certain scents can cause a 40% improvement in mood which, in turn, has a massive impact on your emotional wellbeing. “Scents can have positive effects on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance,” said Theresa Molnar, executive director of the Sense of Smell Institute. 

The reason why scent is so connected to your mood is because of the olfactory system (which is basically a structure that serves your sense of smell). Humans have around 300 active olfactory receptors that detect thousands of different fragrance molecules and deliver these to the part of the brain that monitors emotions. This is why smell can instantly change the way you’re feeling — and, when used correctly, can uplift your mood.

Think of how many soon-to-be-married couples choose a special fragrance for their wedding day. By wearing a particular scent on what is usually the happiest day of your life, you are creating an instant connection between this happiness and the perfume. So, when you revisit this scent months or even years after the event, you’re transported back to how you felt that day and instantly, your mood is changed for the better.

One of the scents most commonly used to positively affect mood and wellbeing is lavender. The scent of lavender is often used in aromatherapy as studies have shown it can act as a mood stabiliser. Lavender oil is also widely used as a natural sleep aid, with the scent acting as an anxiolytic (anxiety reliever) that helps to relax the body and induce sleep.

Floral scents have also been shown to enhance moods, while also eliciting happy memories and nostalgia. A spritz of a floral-scented perfume is enough to conjure up positive recollection of previous moments. In fact, a study conducted by a Japanese construction company looked at how floral scents can impact workers and, after releasing the scent in the workplace in the late morning and early afternoon, found it resulted in increased levels of concentration. 

Jasmine is another scent that can totally change how you feel within mere moments of smelling it. Much like lavender and floral scents, jasmine is often used in aromatherapy and has been shown to be particularly effective with boosting one’s mood.

A study published in 2013 looked at how jasmine oil inhalation influenced participants’ nervous system and mood. Researchers found that when the jasmine oil was inhaled, it positively affected brain activity and mood states, with participants reporting that they felt more positive, energetic, and romantic.

The same can be said for cedarwood, which with its warm, comforting fragrance, has been shown to be an effective stress reliever when inhaled. Cedarwood works to relax the body while also helping to enhance concentration and improve cerebral activity. It just goes to show that a simple sniff is all that’s needed to change your mood and boost your emotional wellbeing.

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