Does “peace” have a scent? Scientists who have researched the effect of scents on the the brain and stress would say “yes”. Designers are beginning to apply research in ways that affect the experience users have within certain interior spaces. Some researchers have found that scents stimulate certain parts of our brain influencing physical, emotional, and mental health.
As importantly, scents have a lower but still significant effect on mood and well-being when absorbed through the skin. Olfactory receptors are found in and around the entire human body, not just in the nose. In fact, “More than 150 olfactory receptors have been identified outside the nose and are currently an active area of study.” One recent study observed the olfactory response in skin.
Designing in Fragrance
There are several ways to introduce fragrance into your space. These include scented candles, essential oils, diffusers, and potpourri. It is important to make your choice based on air freshness conducive to quality of breathing. Candlelight always creates a relaxing environment and candles make attractive decorative moments.*
Essential oils release lasting fragrances into the air. When they are a pure oil, their effect can be powerful. In fact, smell plays a big role in how essential oils may affect the body. When inhaling them, plant oils stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain’s limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body.
LAVENDER: Considered the most common essential oil, include having a calming, relaxing effect. It’s considered a nervous system restorative and helps with inner peace, sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach and general nervous tension.
ROSE: One of the benefits of rose essential is it’s very settling to the emotional heart and perhaps the second most popular after lavender for relieving anxiety and depression, helping with panic attacks, grieving and shock.
VETIVER: has a tranquil, grounding and reassuring energy, often used in trauma helping with self-awareness, calmness and stabilization. A nervous system tonic, it decreases jitteriness and hypersensitivity and is also useful in panic attacks and shock.
CHAMOMILE: A peaceful, calming scent, chamomile benefits inner harmony and decreases irritability, overthinking, anxiety and worry.
FRANKINCENSE: is great for treating depression and anxiety because it provides a calming and tranquil energy as well as spiritual grounding. In aromatherapy, it helps deepen meditation and quietthe mind.
When we understand the importance of scents to our well-being, we can incorporate them into interiors in ways that benefit us. Keep in mind that it is important to source your scents from a reliable speciality company to keep your air clean of harsh chemicals and your scents pure in effect.