To help people try and relax, we have been looking into the connection between scent and relaxation. There are many different ways people can relax, from meditation and yoga, through to practising mindfulness. As well as the physical forms of relaxing, we decided to ask our customers what particular scents helped them feel calm.

The most popular scents, as suggested by our customers, were lavender (32%), vanilla (15%), lemon (8%) and fresh linen (8%). General fruit scents received 6% of the vote, with baby powder also featuring (5%). Other chosen scents were cherry, ocean, jasmine, honey, chocolate, blueberry, and… the smell of a library.  

As well as hearing which scents help our customers to feel more relaxed, we also consulted with Clinical Aromatherapist, Geraldine McCullagh, of Me-Time Therapy to dig deeper into the connection between scent and calmness, and see which scents can trigger the brain to help us feel more relaxed.

Which smells typically help people to feel more relaxed / calm, and why?

Bergamot – people like the fruity-floral aroma resulting in them feeling relaxed and their spirits uplifted. It also reminds them of sunshine and warm summers in the Mediterranean.

Lavender – when people smell Lavender oil, it makes them feel calm and help reduce nervous tension. It is popular at night time to face cream to help calm the mind, therefore, aiding sleep.

Geranium – when people smell the floral smell of Geranium, they start to feel emotionally balanced and helps to reduce anxiety caused by stress and overwork.

Orange – although Orange oil is citrus and associated with uplifting the mood, people have associations with the Orange fruit (especially around Christmas) and find the smell comforting due to the memories it conjures up. It is sometimes called ‘sunshine in a bottle’ due to the making people feel joyful and positive.

Frankincense – people can associate the smell of Frankincense to temples and churches, therefore, creates a feeling of peace and time to breathe and be still. It is also used to ‘deepen the breath’ resulting in a person feeling calmer as they are no longer shallow breathing.

What is the psychological connection between scent and relaxation?

When we breathe in a scent such as an Aromatherapy oil it triggers a reaction in the part of our brain (limbic system) and sets off a reaction in our bodies such as feeling calm or energised. The limbic system also associates smells with emotion and memories. For example,  the smell of Lavender can trigger a memory of a summer holiday in France and associate that memory with feeling relaxed.

Does personal preference come into play in this? If yes, how and why is this?

Personal preference definitely comes into play with the connection of scent and relaxation. For example, as Frankincense is used at Christian funerals, it can conjure a sad, grief memory for a person when the smell Frankincense so unlikely to work to calm their mind and create a feeling of peace.

On a positive note, we can train ourselves by using a scent that we like to feel calm. We can breathe in the smell of an Essential oil and start to associate that smell with making us feel calm. The next time we are starting to feel anxious, we can smell the Essential oil and our minds will associate the smell with feeling calm. It means that we can stop the anxiety from escalating.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our tranquil scents through our ‘CALM’ range here: