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
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
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 particular scents.
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 relaxation.
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 competence.