We all love scented candles because they infuse our space with beautiful fragrance, but when you dig a bit deeper you learn they do a lot more than that. Yes, the nose instantly recognizes pleasant smells (which is a wonderful experience in and of itself), but the brain also processes these aromas, in turn affecting our moods and even our memories. In fact, 75% of all emotions generated everyday are due to smell, and we are 100 times more likely to remember something we smell over something we see, hear or touch. Understanding the far-reaching impact of scents can help you harness their power to do more than simply enhance your surroundings.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FRAGRANCE AND MOOD
You are likely to feel good when your environment smells good, and research has shown that exposure to pleasant scents can lead to a 40% improvement in mood. Fragrance has also been found to have significant, measurable effects on feelings of irritation, stress, depression, apathy, happiness, sensuality, relaxation and stimulation as well.
Knowing how scents can impact your mood gives you the opportunity to use them to feel a certain way. If you are feeling stressed and wish you could hop on a plane to a secluded beach, close your eyes and relax with a beautiful fragrance that reminds you of your favorite island. Feeling nostalgic about childhood summers spent picking berries in the country? Explore a rich floral to help you experience it all over again. But beyond transporting you to another time or place, different scents can target specific emotions. For example, certain studies show that citrus can make you feel more energized and productive—and that vanilla promotes feelings of joy and relaxation. Jasmine is believed by many to uplift your mood, relax you and reduce depression (some also think it even acts as an aphrodisiac!).
These are all examples of “functional fragrance” at work. By definition, functional fragrances are scents that are designed to provide additional benefits like promoting positive emotions and reducing stress. Some stores even have a signature scent that has been shown to increase customer spending, and hotels often use functional fragrance to enhance their guests’ experience (and keep them coming back). Aromatherapy, or using essential oils for a specific therapeutic benefit, is considered the use of a type of functional fragrance—but not all functional fragrances are used in aromatherapy. Simply put, a functional fragrance is a scent that is intended to invoke positive feelings—and our Crazy Strong scented candles are the ultimate way to reap the benefits of functional fragrance!
WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BRAIN
Functional fragrance or not, when any smell enters the nostrils it is processed by the olfactory bulb, which begins inside the nose and extends along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb connects to two areas of the brain’s limbic system, specifically the amygdala and hippocampus, where emotions and memories and processed. It’s an interesting fact that other sensory inputs, such as what we see, hear or touch, do not pass through this specific part of the brain. This is why researchers believe there is such a strong, almost-instantaneous connection between scent, emotions and memories. The only catch: This link between fragrance and feelings only occurs if there has been a prior association in the past. This is because the brain automatically makes and stores a connection between a scent and an event, person, object or that specific point in time the first time you smell it.
THE LINK BETWEEN SCENT AND MEMORIES
Research has shown that we can remember scents with 65% accuracy after one year. Those with especially strong scent memory may be able to remember exactly what their third-grade teacher’s perfume smelled like (40 years later). Because the area of the brain that processes scent is also where memories are stored, a particular smell can trigger a very detailed memory, as well as the emotions associated with it. With the help of brain imaging, researchers can actually see the increased activity in this area of the brain when scent elicits memories.
STRENGTHENING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SCENTS
Learning how you react to specific scents is a wonderful (and enjoyable!) way to discover what triggers certain emotions or memories and influences your state of mind. Consider keeping a scent journal so you can keep track of the responses specific aromas evoke—and then you can use this knowledge to your advantage, whether you need a pick-me-up or help calming down. Your reaction to a particular scent is unique to you. Identifying your unique scent triggers can help you build your Crazy Strong candle collection that has you covered no matter your mood!