person sitting on rug doing aromatherapy
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College of Art and Design
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person sitting on rug doing aromatherapy
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

With these new techniques, you can use your olfactory senses to help relax, improve your memory, and even make yourself worth remembering.

Now that our society allows for more emotional authenticity, we’ve seen just how unhappy the collective is. But we rarely look into simple pleasures that can bolster serotonin and dopamine release (our “happy” neurotransmitters). Most people try to feed their gustatory senses but leave out the olfactory. But our sense of smell can offer tremendous improvements for our focus, temperament and way of life!

I’m sure you’ve noticed that you often salivate before you eat a delicious meal. But if you haven’t, I want you to plug your nose the next time you eat and notice how different your eating experience is. This is due to the symbiotic relationship between our olfactory and gustatory senses; our senses of smell and taste go hand in hand. Our sense of smell is unique in that all of its receptor cells are neurons — and thus, the stimulus or scent that we inhale is chemically transmitted to our brains as quickly as one-tenth of a second. Therefore, we can also shift our current disposition just as quickly. Additionally, the neurons or smell receptors in our noses communicate the information directly to the parts of our brain that process emotion and memory. This is why most of us are transported through time when recalling a familiar scent from the past.

Aromatherapy may not seem all that alluring initially because we often don’t have a feeling of permanence with this sense. Every other sense, including sight, touch, taste and hearing, entails a sensation that lasts for a reasonable amount of time, whereas our sense of smell is quick and fleeting, like our jaunt through the perfume section of any department store. What we forget is that the power in our sense of smell can trigger something in our unconscious. To listen to music, watch a movie, hold a loved one’s hand or taste a sandwich keeps us active in the present moment.

We are usually pretty engaged in the activities that involve our other four senses. But our sense of smell allows us to multitask while enjoying the beautiful aroma around us. And thus, you can improve the time spent working by adding a pleasant aroma to your everyday routine. The connection our sense of smell has to our memory and emotion is almost seamless, allowing us to mark special memories with any scent we see fit or even help us remember important information throughout life. However, if you want to spice it up, our sense of smell has numerous benefits that the majority of us go without. Instead of neglecting it altogether, as many of us are likely used to, try exploring these various methods of partaking in aromatherapy.

Some Mediums Used to Enjoy Aromatherapy

Perfumes and colognes: These two are often the easiest to begin aromatherapy with since they are sold at most stores. When you apply an everyday fragrance to your identity, it boosts your confidence and makes you unique. People will begin to identify you with that scent and notice you better. Also, when you smell fresh, you feel good because you know that your mere presence is a gift to the world itself. You’ll also find people swarming you to be your friend because of your alluring aesthetic. You become more than an individual and the scent, more than a fragrance — you blend and become a memory of pleasant fragrance for all to appreciate.

Incense: Incense are those skinny sticks that burn in any metaphysical shop you know. This is because of their link to meditation and worship has been known since ancient civilizations. The existence of smoke is typically attributed to communication with the divine. This is why we make wishes before we blow out our birthday candles — to send our desires to the divine to manifest. But incense can also be used for focus, relaxation, sleep or to bolster creativity. They are usually made from natural resources, including resins, barks, seeds, roots and flowers, so there is no need to worry about the smoke that fills the air. They can be harmful to pets with smaller lungs, so they aren’t for everyone, but are a great choice if you enjoy a unique, smoky aroma.

Oil diffusers: These mini waterspouts have recently gained much acclaim from the masses. Oil diffusers are machines that vaporize the water and efflux the vapor into the air. So, of course, you’ll also have to buy concentrated essential oils to drop into the oil diffuser. Its popularity is primarily due to its ability to give off a persistent aroma. These machines can run from 30 minutes to an hour and usually offer an auto “turn off” function that allows you to keep doing you. Naturally, the machines can run longer than an hour, but you don’t want to run them so long that the air becomes heavy. Since they outflow so much fragrance, you may want to open the windows to allow fresh air to circulate the aromas.

Wax warmers and candles: Saving my personal favorite for last, wax warmers are exactly how they sound — they warm/melt the wax. Everyone knows of the Yankee Candles found in any grocery store, but not everyone knows of wax warmers. Although they both diffuse scents in the air, candles are a bit more straightforward because all they need is a flame to activate. Wax warmers require a ceramic holder, an individual tea light and a piece of scented wax. While that may not seem like much, they are by far the most aromatic of all the forms of aromatherapy, in my opinion. They may require more clean-up, but having a small yet highly fragrant piece of wax ensures that the scent will permeate an entire room. I love candles as well, but I know I’m not the only one who wonders what happened to the fragrance once the candle is about halfway finished (or maybe I need to buy higher quality candles). Regardless, both wax warmers and candles are inexpensive yet so powerful when combined with any activity.

Writer Profile

Michael Slade

University of Texas at San Antonio
Philosophy & Psychology

Hi everyone! My interests include spirituality, occultism, real estate and writing! My mission is to disseminate knowledge of self-love, mindfulness and optimism.

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