Scents to boost your mood
Women's Health / May 25 2017
Are fragrances the new how-to books?
Need an even quicker fix than The Power of Now? Sniff this. It turns out that smell is an express route to your earliest memories, so it’s instrumental in helping you manage your feelings. We spent $38 million on self-help books in 2014 according to IBISWorld Australia, but beyond the written word and conscious thought your olfactory happy place exists. “When a scent triggers a memory, like an experience or place in time, we relive it more profoundly because it’s subliminal rather than deliberate, like looking at photos,” says Erica Moore, fragrance evaluator at Fragrances of the World. Just catch a whiff of scent and your body has a physiological response. Ready to put more onus on your sense of smell as your guide to enlightenment? Take a wander and pick an uplifting scent.
To be happier
Spritz: Citrus notes like lemon, orange and jasmine. OnePoll found 92 per cent of women said scents make them happy; the main reason: they evoke memories of childhood. Freshly baked bread, clean linen and just-mown grass all topped the list of the best scents. For Moore, it’s the jasmine blooms from her family home that make her sleep longer and deeper and feel less irritable and more upbeat. Aromatherapy experts attribute the effect to the flower’s natural antidepressant properties. Professor Avni Sali of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine says, along with neroli and ylang ylang, jasmine can stimulate a feelgood sensation.
To chill out
Spritz: Lavender, sandalwood and cedar wood. Whether you’re fretting over a work preso or freaking out over financial stuff, try sandalwood. “Sandalwood has soothing effects on so many people,” Sali says, “as do other wood-based essences, like cedar wood.” Sali also recommends lavender, for its relaxing and calming properties. Get this: a study in Physiology & Behavior showed lavender helped reduce anxiety in a dental waiting room. (Goodbye wisdom teeth worry!). However, if you hated a teacher who wore lavender perfume it could make you feel agitated. The best way to tell? Give it a crack yourself.
To feel sexy
Spritz: Musky, warm skin-like notes. Pick-up guides arm you with a wealth of useful tips in the Tinder world, but that can be time-consuming. So can you lure a bloke through scent instead? Just spraying a fragrance can make you feel more confident: a recent poll by Imperial Leather found 97 per cent of Aussies agree. Monell Chemical Senses Centre found nice fragrances can make you appear more beautiful, too. Some scents also claim to make you irresistible by enhancing your pheromones. But this theory falls down in the science. Oh. While scent signals are thought to be exchanged between men and women, there’s some debate over whether humans can even detect pheromones, Moore says. While these scents may not stand up scientifically, there’s no debating the fact that the soft smell of warm skin (created by the use of synthetic musks) can subtly impart a sensual mood.
To get in the zone
Spritz: Rosemary, peppermint, basil and cypress. Sherlock Holmes wasn’t just hot (thanks Robert Downey Jr), he also had kick-arse observational skills, a razor-sharp memory and a computer-like mind. So how can we get a piece of that action? Herbaceous, spicy scents are reported to aid our thinking. Researchers at University of Cincinnati found a whiff of peppermint helped test subjects perform better on tasks that required constant concentration. Sali gives it a nod for mental clarity, stimulation and focus, along with basil and cypress. If you’re a mediocre multi-tasker, try rosemary. According to Northumbria University, it may help you remember events and finish set tasks (important should you have to rescue an innocent from the hands of evil). The same uni found that lemon balm can increase cognitive performance—which you’ll also need to talk your way out of trouble.