3 Ways Scents Affect Your Well-Being


“Stop and smell the roses.”

You’ve probably heard this phrase used a thousand times. Somebody’s probably even said it to you when you’re stressed or frustrated or a little too focused on “getting things done.” But as annoying as the phrase can seem when we’re stressed, what does it really mean?

The human nose contains 12 million olfactory receptor cells that can detect at least one trillion scents. Smell is also the only one of your five senses that connects directly to the hippocampus—the area of your brain where memories form and emotions are processed. As you inhale, you expose your nervous system to molecules. Those molecules encourage the production of hormones within your body, and those hormones generate a very real emotional reaction.

This means you can use scents to positively affect your emotions and even your well-being. Whether you want to feel more serene and calm or more alert and active, there’s a perfect scent to help relax, energize, or uplift your mood.

Relaxing Scents 

Properly managing occasional stress is a key to happiness. And certain smells, often from natural herbs and plants, can create a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Reach for a scented candle or essential oil diffuser to enjoy as you delve into a quiet hobby or simply kick back and relax. 

Common calming scents:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Chamomile 
  • Sweet Marjoram 
  • Vanilla
  • Jasmine
  • Rose

Use these scents lightly to avoid overpowering your sense of smell—that’s not calming at all. You can even apply special essential oil mixtures to your skin to encourage a soothing response.

Invigorating Scents 

Just as scents can relax your mind and body, some can also activate and energize you. Imagine feeling alert and attentive without relying on your go-to caffeinated beverage. Surround yourself with these smells as you conquer your day or start a new project—you’ll feel unstoppable:

  • Citrus
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pine 
  • Peppermint 
  • Sage
  • Ginger
  • Eucalyptus 

Your olfactory journey is a personal one. Some energizing scents may help you relax. And you may find relaxing scents quite invigorating. Take time to find aromas that appeal to you and create the perfect emotional response.

Uplifting Scents 

The first drops of rain on dry pavement, a freshly cut lawn, a load of laundry tumbling in the dryer, or fresh bread baking in the oven—the moment you read those words, the “memory of a smell” entered your mind. You may have even let out a deep breath and felt yourself relax. It’s normal to form deeply personal, emotional connections to certain scents. They help you recall long lost memories or feel safe and happy during hard times.

Immerse yourself in scents you simply enjoy. Creating a positive, uplifting atmosphere will help you better manage ocassional stress, focus on your goals, and enhance your well-being.

Your nose knows. So, get out there and find the scents that bring you positivity—no matter how weird or specific. No judging here! Some people really like the smell of burnt matches or hardware stores. Different aromas bring support by stimulating sheer positivity. Again, make sure not to overwhelm your sense of smell.

Ancient Wisdom “Nose” No Bounds

Most interestingly of all, many of the herbs, oils, and scents mentioned above have been used for hundreds—even thousands—of years for their holistic medicinal properties. And while modern science is still trying to tease out the secrets behind scents, health, and holistic remedies, you can experience this ancient wisdom for yourself today. Medicinal or not, smells can guide you to a greater sense of peace and wellness.

So as you balance your life between work, family, hobbies, and your own well-being, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

About the Writer

Born and raised in Utah, Taylor Pulver grew up fishing, camping, and hiking his way through the Wasatch Range. Now, he lives in Salt Lake City as a writer, gardener, and avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels.