Print This Page SparkPeople

Aromatherapy Smells Great!

Odors and Energy
  -- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

Each of us has a secret source of energy. You can’t hold it in your hand or see it in a book. Most mysteriously, it can boost your energy, mood and motivation without you even knowing it.

It’s a smell. Not just any smell, but a particular smell that invigorates you. It’s different for everyone. For some, it’s leaves; for others, hay; still others, rubber or smoke. People that turn up their noses at leather may perk right up when they smell motor oil.

The fact that odors can boost energy isn’t any news to people familiar with the basics of aromatherapy. We’ve heard for years about the effects smells have on our brains and bodies. Peppermint, for example, is widely used to increase alertness. In Japan, there’s a company that pipes in scented air to pep up employees. In the morning, cedar and cypress wake them up. In the afternoon, citrus stimulates their senses.

But what’s still unexplored is a type of “Personal Aromatherapy,” in which each person may be physically and emotionally affected in different ways by different smells.

Aromatherapy works in two ways. First, many smells (apple pie, foot odor, perfume) simply produce emotional responses learned through association. Other smells most often used in aromatherapy oils (lavender, vanilla) have real physical effects. They cause the body to produce neurochemicals, such as serotonin, which relaxes and induces sleep.<pagebreak>

What’s interesting is that this physical effect may also be learned. In fact, these same “chemicals of well-being” are also released when talking to a lover or listening to music. That’s where the idea of personal aromatherapy comes in.

Personal aromatherapy is a smell that’s closely related to an activity or interest that you’re highly invested in or really enjoy doing. The more “active” this activity is, the theory goes, the more its related smell will boost your energy. The smell and its effect on you are very personal things. If you love working with wood and you use a lot of energy doing it, chances are the smell of sawdust will get you going. Same goes for someone who loves cooking upon entering the spice aisle in the store. When faced with these meaningful smells, you can’t help but feel a little rush of energy and pleasant thought.

So what does this mean for weight loss? Just this: by keeping these personal aromatherapy scents around, you will feel more energized and more positive about staying active.

Of course, these are often smells you don’t want around all the time. (Who wants to live in a workshop?) In fact, they may actually be smells you normally find unpleasant in daily life. But it’s the emotional reminder that’s important, not the smell itself. What activity do you really get fired up for? Does it have a distinct smell that goes along with it? If you can find a way to give yourself a “shot” when you need it, you may have found the secret to staying charged up and motivated every day.