Author: Adam Khan
Smelling something pleasant makes you
measurably calmer and kinder. Aromatherapy stress relief has a long history but
the relationship between aromatherapy and stress is something scientists are now
documenting. Read on...
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI, volunteers did
stress-inducing tasks on a computer while wearing oxygen masks. Piped through
the masks was either plain air or scented air. For this study, they used two
scents: peppermint and lily-of-the-valley. They got about the same results from
both scents: People breathing the fragrance made, on average, twenty-five
percent fewer errors than the people breathing plain air.
Similar studies have been done on other tasks — clerical
work, decoding, proofreading — with similar results. People perform better when
they're smelling something pleasant.
As researchers look into it, the sense of smell appears to
have far-reaching effects. Robert Baron's research at Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute found that people smelling a pleasant fragrance were more than twice
as likely to volunteer to help a co-worker than people breathing plain air.
"It's not the particular scent that's important," Baron says, "but that a person
finds it pleasant." Light floral scents, he says, as well as the smell of
citrus, appeal to almost everyone.
Baron did other experiments at a mall. When the aroma of
baking cookies or roasting coffee was in the air, people were twice as likely to
hand over a dollar when a stranger asked for one than in areas with no
Baron tested the same thing with someone clumsily dropping a
ballpoint pen. People were twice as likely to help the person (by picking up the
pen for them) when there was a pleasant smell in the air than when there wasn't.
Baron says basically the effect is caused by simply improving peoples' moods. He
says when people are in a better mood, they are nicer.
Smells have a definite, measurable effect on your sense of
calm. Alan Hirsch, a researcher in Chicago, said, "We've been looking at a form
of long-term anxiety, called generalized anxiety disorder, hoping to find an
odor that might reduce the level of stress. So far, green-apple smell seems to
be the most effective."
He also said they've discovered that the scent of lavender
increases alpha brain waves, the electrical rhythm of the brain associated with
Get some essential oils or incense, or candle, or some fresh
flowers, or anything that produces a smell you find pleasant. It is hardly
noticeable, but it will make you feel calmer, and maybe even improve your
Author: Adam Khan