Using scent and smell to get rid of stress and for healing

I am a huge stress junky. Highly strung and ready to “lose it” at any moment, I have to keep several strategies up my sleeve to help me calm myself down in the event that I get upset at something.

Scents can be a really good way to reset your emotional controls and to kick-start a bit of healing. There was a recent article in Time that talked about the healing properties of a particular scent that I’ll tell you about in a minute. They point out, “Humans have about 350 olfactory receptors in the nose, but previous studies have shown they also exist in sperm, in the prostate, in kidneys and in our intestine.”

Smells are very important to us and they can have an effect on how we feel. Some of our earliest memories relate to scents. Psychology Today says that there is prominent connection between smells, emotions and early life experiences. Before we reach the age of five, there is an even more significant relationship with smells that may “trigger pleasant feelings and memories,” even scents we don’t experience every day, such as a campfire.

As adults, we also respond to smells, such as the deodorant or perfume someone uses. If you’re feeling stressed, here are some scents that may help you to feel calmer.


According to a recent study done by researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, a healing property of the skin is activated when it comes into contact with sandalwood, a scent that was typically found in incense and essential oils. “The activated OR2AT4 receptor triggers a calcium-dependent signal pathway,” says the study. “That pathway ensures an increased proliferation and a quicker migration of skin cells,” the processes which make your wounds heal faster.

To experience the sandalwood scent: Burn high-quality and ethically made incense sticks, or rub a small amount of sandalwood oil on your wrists.


Native to the Mediterranean, this herb thrives in a dry climate and is a member of the mint family. You’re probably familiar with it as a classic flavouring added to chicken, potatoes or lamb dishes. You may be lucky enough to find rosemary growing in hedges around your local area, as people garden with it as it can be quite decorative and hardy. According to Medical News Today, rosemary improves digestion, is a rich source of antioxidants and can prevent your brain from ageing.

To experience the rosemary scent: Crush a few of the leaves between your fingers and inhale deeply. You can normally find fresh rosemary at your local supermarket.



This is another flower which grows locally in Australia, and in many countries around the world. It’s actually one of 39 species of plants. It is actually a native of the Old World (Africa, Europe, and Asia) and is found from Cape Verde to southeast India. According to Health it can fight dandruff, cure bloating and help you relax. I really find that this works for me. If ever I see it growing, I always pinch a flower or two!

To experience the lavender scent: If you can find a fresh plant, that’s terrific. It also dries very well, so if you come across a plant, take some extra to dry later. Failing this, you can buy lavender essential oil.



This is my new favourite scent. I work close to Chinatown and I went in search of some ginger tea recently. I ended up with weird, granulated stuff called Instant Ginger Drink and it was awesome! You can put the granules in hot or cold water. It’s great for nausea and tastes terrific. Fresh or dried ginger is a great way to get an instant energy boost and a bit of a “pep up”. It’s been used as both a spice and medicine by the Chinese for hundreds of generations.

To experience the ginger scent: Buy some of this tea! If you can’t find it, experiment with different brands. Buy a knob of fresh ginger in your local supermarket and place a few thin slices into a cup of boiling water, let steep and drink.

What are your favourite scents? Do you find smelling something pleasant helps you to feel relaxed?


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