Advice: Stop and smell the roses. It will make you feel better.
Smell is a very powerful sense. It’s a wonderful gift that will hopefully enable us to experience many more uplifting odors than repulsive ones. The ability to smell is one of the key ways we are able to engage our environment. Understanding the basics of how the sense of smell works can help us appreciate it more deeply and inspire us to use it more extensively to explore the wide spectrum of aromas in the world.
So, the question is: If exercise is that beneficial, why don’t more people do it?
The connection between smells and emotion is why aromas can also significantly affect our moods. It’s a linkage that advertisers love to exploit. Real estate agents, for example, may tell a homeowner to have cookies baking in the oven during an open house. Many marketing companies try to figure out how smells can motivate people to buy everything from food to clothing. One savvy pastor used the smell-mood connection to make a sermon illustration come alive. As he spoke about popcorn, someone directed the odor of freshly cooked popcorn into the ventilation system, where it then wafted over the delighted congregation.
Our noses are true marvels. Understanding and appreciating their intricacies can help us become more conscious of the aromas around us and can also motivate us to make better use of our noses to proactively seek out and experience new smells. We could even take our own “Aroma Safaris.”
Since smells can be so enjoyable and uplifting, here are ways to turn your environment into an aroma haven:
- Use scented candles.
- Add scented oil to humidifiers.
- Display flowers in vases.
- Hang up bunches of flowers or herbs. Jill Blake, author of “Healthy Home” (A Practical and Resourceful Guide to Making Your Own Home Fit for Body, Mind and Spirit), advises people to “hang sweet-smelling flowers or bunches of herbs in the kitchen or dining room. Bay leaves, rosemary, sage, lavender and bergamot smell particularly wonderful. Hang dried herbs in cupboards.”
- Fill dishes with potpourri that include items like dried rose petals, violets, jasmine, lillies of the valley, marigolds, larkspur, pinks, sage, rosemary, bergamot, lavender, lemon verbena and chamomile. You can also add aromatic herbs, spices, wood shavings, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and other great smelling elements to scent the air.
- Utilize scent warmers or reed diffusers. Reed diffusers are a certain kind of reed with one end in aromatic oil and the other sticking up out of a container. They require no flame.
- Grow an indoor herb garden and raise pleasant smelling house plants.
- Boil herbs to release wonderful scents. Boil water in a pan then remove from heat. Add a few whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and a small amount of nutmeg. Add fragrant oils as desired. Skins from citrus fruits also work well.
- Display soaps in a basket.
- Dilute fragrant oil with water and spray around your home.
- Air out the house and let nature’s aromas in.
Take the aroma of chocolate. The science of “sensomics” has broken down that intoxicating smell into its various chemical components. It turns out that the aroma we know as chocolate is made up of a combination of substances that individually smell like potato chips, cooked meat, peaches, raw beef fat, cooked cabbage, human sweat, earth, cucumber and honey. Put them all together and our brain says, “Chocolate!”
The more we know about the gift of smell, the more we are able to appreciate it and use it gladly to inhale the wonderful aromas in our environment that can be every bit as delightful as the heady scent of chocolate itself.
Arts Equal Wellness
Like or loathe the performing arts, you’ll enjoy wellness benefits just by showing up, recent research suggests.
While previous studies have indicated a lower risk of dementia among those who engaged in active “brain exercise,” such as playing board games, doing puzzles or learning other languages, researchers of this study were interested in the impact of more “receptive” pursuits, such as watching a play or perusing new art exhibits. To investigate, Norwegian scientists looked at lifestyle data for roughly 50,000 men and women of all ages, comparing these to questionnaires aimed at gauging levels of anxiety, depression and life satisfaction, among other variables.
Interestingly, those who favored more “receptive” activities reaped similar wellness rewards to those who engaged in more active pursuits, such as volunteering, joining clubs and doing outdoor activities.
Men, in particular, lowered anxiety by enjoying the arts.