“When we smell something, it goes directly to the part of the brain where our emotions are processed,” explained Dr. Rachel Herz, PhD, the author of The Scent of Desire and a world-renowned expert on the psychology of smell. “It taps into how we feel and what this makes us think of in terms of associations and memory — more so than anything else that we experience.”
Translation: The scents we surround ourselves with may actually be more powerful mood enhancers than we realize. And they can help us become more creative, inspired, relaxed and even joyful, once we get in synch with our sense of smell.
Here’s where it gets fun. When you know which scents have a certain impact on you, it’s possible to channel these good feelings on a room-by-room basis. Read on to find out how to formulate your home’s power fragrances in five easy steps.
1. Start a scent diary. You like the smell of lilies — but do you ever ask yourself why they make you so happy? Or maybe floral scents have you more inclined to curl up on the couch with a book. Pay attention to these emotions, and write down which scents map to certain feelings, like confidence, productivity, focus and relaxation. Once you understand how they impact your mental state, you can begin to decide which scents go where in your home.
2. Develop your scent profile. Even though scent preference is very personal, there are certain fragrances that people tend to associate with specific emotional states. For example, Dr. Herz shares: “Citrus smells tend to be associated with feeling happy and bright. And lavender is likely to be a kind of smell that people may find relaxing.” Our recommendation? Spend some time in your local Whole Foods or health store aisles, sniffing the essential oils. (Don’t overload yourself, though!) From there, you can start to build your home aroma profile plan.
3. Match rooms to aromas. Spend a little time researching the effects of certain scents. Did you know jasmine is a sleep aid? Map out a plan for what feelings you want in each of the rooms in your home and chose the scents that fit best. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment! (We tried: Lemon verbena in the kitchen, lavender in the bedroom, fresh linen in the living room and pine in the bath. It was amazing!)
4. Let the scents begin. Consider trying an electric diffuser for dispersing the scents you decided on, or bamboo sticks that emit the scent au naturale. You can even mix up your own room spray. Try one (or up to two) tablespoons of your favorite essential oil, combined with a quarter-cup of unflavored vodka and three cups of distilled water. One more thing: Never, ever forget the power of fresh flowers or just-baked cookies.
5. Swap scents regularly. If you want the benefits of aromas triggering emotions, you have to change things up every so often and try something new. “The more you smell the same scent, the less intensely you’ll be able to smell it,” Dr. Herz says. Feel free to switch it up occasionally. Your nose knows the right scent — you just have to pay attention.
One last thing before you light the incense: That cozy feeling at your friend’s house might be a reaction to her floral arrangement. But it also might have something to do with the warm, positive memories you have from her and her home in the first place.
Whether you’re having coffee in the kitchen on a beautiful morning or reclining in your favorite armchair with a book, the amazing smell of your morning cuppa and the loveliness of the leather fragrance are more indicative of the positive memories you’ve made in those spots than anything else.
What scent relaxes you? Share your favorites below!
(Photos via Getty)