Discovering Memories and Mindfulness Through Scent

Have you ever experienced a rush of fond memories after smelling a familiar scent? Or perhaps you’ve actively sought a specific scent, like chamomile or eucalyptus, knowing it would help create a sense of calm?

Smell can have a huge impact on our daily lives. It can have a positive effect on things like mood, memory recollection, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, and physical or cognitive performance.

When you encounter a smell, your body forms nerve connections that intertwine the smell with the emotions you feel at that time, especially if those emotions are heightened. That’s why smelling a certain meal may remind you of baking at your grandparent’s house, or the scent of falling rain or fresh cut grass might remind you of a fond road trip. If you’re apart from a loved one for extended periods of time, smelling their clothing or spritzing their cologne can make you feel close to them, even if you physically aren’t.

Certain scents and smells can also improve pain tolerance and cognitive function. Sweet scents, like peppermint, activate the opioid systems in the brain, which invigorates the mind. Some people even use it as a study or test-taking aid.  Certain scents can also support relaxation. Lavender, for example, is helpful to many people as a relaxation aid.

Want to coax your brain into associating a certain smell with relaxation? Choose a candle, air freshener or other product with a scent you find pleasant. Then, pair it with a calming meditation session, and repeat several times over time. Soon, the odor itself will elicit a relaxed state, even without the meditation.  This trick can also be used to help you sleep better when you feel restless.

Different scents offer different benefits for your mind and body, so try different candles, perfumes, and air fresheners to see which ones make you feel best.

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  2. Holmes, L. ( 2014, April 26 ). 11 Scents That Can Do Wonders For Your Well-Being . HuffPost . Retrieved from