Why is lavender so calming? It is because of something chemical, or because we’re told it’s good for relaxation? Things that make you go “hmmm.”
Scents can affect our mood–but not for the reasons we may think, according to a report by Rachel Herz, an assistant professor at Brown University in Scientific American. Instead, scents such as those from essential oils can improve our mood based on the kinds of experiences we associate with a particular scent. Suggested scents for stress management can also influence our ultimate experience with them.
My grandmother disliked the smell and presence of flowers indoors– it reminded her of funerals. To me, the smell of flowers reminds me of spring and new opportunities.
However, a cherry-flavored medication gave me an aversion and caused gagging at its scent for years. I still can’t take cough syrup without retching. Another person thought it was among the best tastes and scents in the world.
If you’re interested in what scents may work for what ailment, there’s no shortage of suggestions from bloggers and aromatherapists. Whether they objectively work is up to interpretation.
However, whether you just like a scent or you’re in it for the healing, here are five ways to use essential oils.
- Apply it to your skin.
This is the most direct way, and aside from some essential oils which are noted as potentially dangerous for people with certain conditions, the easiest. Anything applied to the skin does get absorbed, so use with caution and only use pure oils, not synthetic fragrances. Rub a little bit on your pulse points- wrists and nape of neck- (your body’s warmth helps boost the fragrance) or comb a drop or two through your hair for lasting fragrance.
2. Use a home diffuser.
You can use an electric diffuser which requires water and puffs a cool steam of fragrance, or you can use a wax melter (either electric, or one which uses a tea light candle). My little stone melter does the trick just fine. Fill the basin with water and add 3-4 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend (like tangerine and peppermint) and as the water boils, the fragrance will fill the room. Be sure to extinguish the flame or turn off the device before all the water evaporates!
3. Apply to a personal diffuser.
A personal diffuser, whether a pendant, bracelet or pin, let’s you walk in a cloud of your chosen fragrance without applying directly to your body. This is great for those who have issues with contact dermatitis or other skin issues. Basically you can take the diffuser anywhere you go! To make your own, try adding some absorbent fabric inside an open air locket, or apply to any jewelry made of lava beads from your favorite craft store.
4. Add some to your body wash.
Since I make my own body wash using castor soap and chamomile tea, it’s the perfect opportunity to add my own fragrance. Usually I add tea tree oil for its astringent properties, but you could just as easily add lavender, rosemary, or geranium. 6-10 drops should be sufficient for an 8 fluid oz. container.
5. Combine with unscented lotion.
By the same principal as the body wash, add 5-8 drops to unscented lotion for instant aromatherapy.
What’s your favorite scent combination?