Did you know that our ability to smell is directly connected to the emotional centre of our brain?
Each time we smell something, the smell enters through the nose to the olfactory bulb, then travels via the cranial nerve to the brain. The brain processes the smell and produces an appropriate response. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system—the area of the brain responsible for emotions—it’s easy for us to respond to each smell emotionally.
For example, if we encounter a foul smell, our brain may make us respond in disgust. If we encounter a pleasant smell, our brain may initiate a satisfying feeling.
It’s also why some smells bring back vivid memories from our childhood; potpourri for summers at grandma’s house, certain perfumes for high school, fire pit smoke for summer camps. These are emotional memories, and memories are connected with the hippocampus, also a part of the limbic system.
With such a strong connection between smells and the brain, it’s no surprise that certain smells can affect our mood. Here are 5 examples of smells and the effect they have on how we feel.
Korean researchers discovered that the smell of lavender has a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression.
American researchers found that the smell of cinnamon improves cognitive function, including visual-motor response, working memory, and attention span.
Japanese researchers observed that walking through pine forests lowers depression, anxiety, and stress levels.
American researchers revealed that the smell of vanilla helps us feel joyful and relaxed.
Thai researchers noticed that the smell of jasmine increases alertness and reduces depression.
If you find yourself feeling down, consider immersing yourself in some of these smells, perhaps with a drink of jasmine tea, walking through a pine forest, or making a lavender and cinnamon simmering pot. You might be surprised to find how much better you feel.
Are there other smells that make you feel better? Let us know in the comments below.