Without a sense of smell, we lose so much. We take for granted this ability that is both life-enhancing and life-saving. In everyday life, we utilise our sense of smell to enjoy food, evoke memories, and alter moods and energy levels. Owing to the short journey travelled between the olfactory nerve and the limbic system (which deals with emotions and memory), there is a strong connection.
Anosmia, or loss of smell, is disruptive and unpleasant as one navigates life without this important sense. Without smell, nearly every aspect of life alters, spanning relationships, sexual intimacy, and threats in the kitchen (detecting off food, for example). Overall, the condition decreases the quality of life, taking away the ability to enjoy flavoursome meals, breathe in the odour of a loved one, or sniff freshly mown grass in the morning.
In light of COVID-19 and its reported impacts on the sense of smell, this often-overlooked sense has never been more widely discussed. What would we do without it? The awakening is a reminder to appreciate what we’ve got, so it’s time to start using scents to capitalise on life and tackle every day with the power of the aroma.
How To Use Scents Daily
If you have been paying attention to the supermarket shelves, there’s no doubt the essential oils market has grown significantly in recent years. You can purchase these handy oils from the local grocer, chemist, newsagent, or health foods store. The tiny vials are one of the easiest ways to harness scents and use them to your advantage - from optimising life to indulging in self-care and practicality.
One go-to method for oil use is the diffuser. An oil diffuser holds a small amount of water and a few drops of your preferred oils, which then disperses the aroma evenly into the air. A diffuser creates an atmosphere and transforms a room in minutes; what was uninspiring quickly becomes energising. When starting, experts advise a gradual introduction, diffusing at 20-30 minutes at a time, particularly as you gauge responses to various scents. These can be used as single oils or combined to craft a bespoke blend that speaks to your needs.
Oils can also be inhaled straight from the bottle or dropped into the hands to breathe in. It is crucial to use a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) when using essential oils on the skin. This helps dilute the potency of the essential oil and reduce any risk of irritation or reaction. Simply breathing in the scent of lavender or frankincense can change neural patterns and prompt feelings of calm, alertness, or motivation. Oils can act as a natural perfume - a dab on the neck and wrists - to help guide and enhance your day. Specific oils also remedy several ailments, including mosquito bites, colds, and headaches.
When choosing essential oils, make sure to look for high quality, 100% pure options. Cheap doesn’t cut it here. They get up close and personal - as we douse our homes in their vapour - so it’s important to go for trusted brands and all-natural offerings.
How To Choose The Right Scent
Different scents have differing effects, from calming to energising and encouraging sensuality. These are some of the common reasons for using essential oils and the aromas to try.
Essential Oils For Anxiety and Stress
If you’re lucky, you have a work colleague who slyly carries a handy vial of lavender oil with them at all times. They inhale and instantly feel a wave of calm wash over at any sign of distress or anxiety (and hopefully offer you a sniff when required). Lavender has the power to impact our mood dramatically. Lavender helps improve restlessness, sleep disturbances, and positively impacts wellbeing overall. Lavender helps us feel more content, grounded and relaxed.
Other scents to try include geranium, clary sage, ylang-ylang and bergamot (which helps release dopamine and serotonin).
Essential Oils For Sleep
Lavender’s super calming powers can also be cleverly used in the bedroom (no, not for that reason). The scent can be used as a sleep aid, creating a calm space and positive nightly ritual. Diffuse for an hour before sleep, sprinkle a few drops on your pillow, or apply to your feet, temples, or wrists (with a carrier oil).
To further assist in winding down and promoting a healthy sleep pattern, oils such as neroli, geranium, chamomile and rose can be blended and diffused. Breathe in the sweet fragrances and forget about counting sheep.
Essential Oils For Energy And Alertness
Whether you require an early morning hit to get the juices flowing or a mid-afternoon boost to prevent dozing off, try giving essential oils a go before heading to the espresso machine.
Citrus oils are particularly potent and aid in alerting the mind - try grapefruit or sweet orange. Alternatively, peppermint encourages mental focus, while eucalyptus promotes energy. For an oil-free, DIY option (that won’t cost you a thing), try hanging a small branch of eucalyptus leaves from your shower head. Enjoy a natural awakening as you breathe in the steaming aroma during your morning shower.
Essential Oils For Fending Off Illness
Some oils also boast properties that help fight against cold and flu, acting as a great way to keep the home free of germs, particularly as the weather cools. Many pre-blended options are available for purchase, which can be diffused, added to soaps and hand sanitiser, or used in cleaning products to protect against seasonal threats. Notable essential oils within these include cinnamon, tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and clove.
Peppermint oil is also powerful in treating nausea and headaches. Keep a roller bottle in your bag (pre-blended for easy use) and run over the temples or stomach as required. Let these oils work their healthy, natural magic.
Ultimately, the scents you choose is entirely individual. You may feel particularly drawn to woody tones, floral aromatics or a citrus overload. Regardless, it is helpful to keep in mind the purported effects of each to build a healthy routine and harness the power of scent to reach your potential. Afternoon slumps and sleepless nights are things of the past.