Our sense of smell is the one most connected to memory. We've all experienced it: the fragrance of a sweet rose that brings us back to a warm spring day, or the aroma of pasta cooking on the stove that reminds us of home. That’s because the sense of smell is connected to the limbic system, which plays a huge role in behavior related to mood and memory. The goal of aromatherapy is to channel these chemical responses in the brain into making positive connections between scent and mood. According to an article in Psychology Today,“smell, perhaps more than the other senses, is exquisitely linked to the regions of the brain that process emotion and associative learning.
This week’s Be Better Challenge is to focus on the smells around you. Notice whether certain odors bring memories good or bad. Notice whether scents change your mood. Once you have concentrated on the smells around you, try to incorporate smells into your life that make you happy and/or relaxed. One way that you can incorporate aromatherapy into your life is through essential oils.
A large variety of essential oils are used in aromatherapy, and each has its own effect on the body:
- Many scents help divert pain through increased relaxation.
- Oils used to relieve anxiety include lavender, chamomile, bergamot, rose, orange and sandalwood.
- Aromatherapy’s therapeutic benefits affect mood, alertness, stress, reaction time, heart rate, blood pressure, and arousal.
- Aromatherapy is also a safe and natural alternative for treating anxiety, as opposed to taking prescription medications. Learn more about using aromatherapy to reduce anxiety here.
Aromatherapy can be implemented in your life in assorted ways:
- Applying oils to the skin by combining them with lotion
- Diluting essential oils in carrier oil (coconut, olive oil) to be massaged into the skin
- Direct inhalation of essential oils through dropping oils in hot water
- Using oils in a room diffuser or placing drops on your pillow case
There are tons of essential oils to try out to suit your moods, and plenty of ways to use them! If interested in what different essential oils are used for, check out Doterra.com. It has all the oils neatly outlined with how to use them and what they are for. Have fun with this. Our favorite is lavender, which is known to aid relaxation and sleep. Put a couple of drops on your pillow before you go to bed, and the smell will put you calmly to sleep.
One our Be BETTER women down in Dana Point, Suzanne Stevart (pictured in the middle), wrote a touching blog post on the power of smell on her blog Adventures of Empty Nesters. We love her blog. She writes "As we grow older we experience different stages in our lives… being an Empty Nester is a really big one! The kids have moved out of the house and we are ready for the next step. Aren’t we? Maybe not, maybe so, but this site is a great way to share ideas and enjoy the triumphs and stories with each other!