Smell is a powerful sense—a sniff can transport you to a place of pleasure
or absolute disgust. “Personal associations and experiences makes smell
objective,” says Sally Augustin, Ph.D, an environmental psychologist. A whiff
of perfume your ex wore probably brings up bad memories, while the smell of
apple pie reminds you of your grandma’s house on Thanksgiving. But certain
smells have been proven to enhance your health no matter who you are. And the
good news? With these seven scents, you don’t have to make your place smell
like a Bath & Body Works to attain the benefits.
Peppermint has been proven to enhance your cognitive memory, according to
the Sense of Smell Institute. When it was administered either through the mouth
or nose, the smell of peppermint improved participants’ scores on tasks related
to recognition, working memory, and visual-motor response speed. It also does
wonders for your workout: A 2013 study in the Journal of International
Society of Sports Nutrition found that when participants drank
peppermint-infused water for 10 days, it significantly reduced their perceived
physical workload during a treadmill stress test. Peppermint was also found to
improve pain threshold.
Try this: If you hate the taste of peppermint, try putting drops of
essential peppermint oil on your wrist before your workout. Or if you're cool
with it, opt for popping in a piece of peppermint gum pre-sweat session and let
the taste and smell boost your gym routine.
A 2009 study found that cinnamon filtered through the air improved people's
increased ratings of alertness, and decreased frustration during a driving
simulation. Cinnamon compounds may also help protect against Alzheimer’s,
according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers found that the compounds in cinnamon—cinnamaldehyde and
epicatechin—help stop build up of tau proteins in the brain, which lead to
Try this: Use a cinnamon scented air freshener to keep you alert in your
car. Ingesting cinnamon can also aid with your blood sugar. Try adding it to
oatmeal, shake some on to a smoothie, or add a dash to your coffee.
This herb has been found to improve concentration, speed, and accuracy on
mental tasks. It also enhances memory quality, according to 2013 research from
Try this: Add rosemary to your next dish and enjoy the aroma as it
Snooze like a baby tonight by incorporating jasmine into your sleep
routine. A 2010 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that
when jasmine was administered into the air, respondents had greater sleep
efficiency—deeper shuteye and less tossing and turning. Upon waking up, those
who slept breathing in jasmine reported lower levels of anxiety and greater
alertness in afternoon hours.
Try this: Sip on a cup of jasmine tea while you're getting ready for
bed. Or burn a jasmine candle before hitting the hay.
Similar to jasmine, lavender is best for its relaxation benefits. A 2005
Wesleyan University study found that people who sniffed lavender before bed
increased their amount of deep sleep. Another study found that those who
smelled the scent fell asleep faster and woke up less during the night.
Try this: Try a lavender facial before bed. (Seriously guys, do this.)
Fill a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water and add 10 drops of lavender essential
oil. Place your head over the bowl with a towel over it to keep the steam in,
and inhale for 1 minute.
Citrus smells can help reduce stress. Brazilian scientists found that
people who sniffed sweet orange essential oil before a stressful test reported
lower anxiety levels.
Try this: Peel a fresh orange or grapefruit at your work desk and keep
the peels around for the rest of the day. Or try using a citrus scrub in the
scents are far from natural, but as a culture, we have positive associations
with them. A 2009 study from Brigham Young University found that clean smells
promoted moral, ethical, and charitable behavior. When participants were placed
in a room spritzed with Windex, they were significantly more interested in
volunteering time and donating money. Researchers concluded that morality and
cleanliness go hand-in-hand, and cleanliness shapes our impressions of people
Try this: When was the last time you actually gave your place a scrub