“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains…” Diane Ackerman

Remember how every first day of school always smelled the same? I used to describe it as the small of dirt and worms, only because it reminded me of the aroma of a rainy day, which displeased me greatly. Even now, I’ll wake up early and get a quick whiff of dew, grass and dirt just as the sun is rising. Chills tickle my spine and a mini anxiety attack sneaks up.

Then there are the smells that remind me of home, Sunday mornings, Christmas snow storms and people I love. Though I don’t eat most types of meat, the smell of chorizo, scrambled eggs and tortillas draws me out of my bed and to the breakfast table when I’m home visiting my family. 

A light chlorine smell reminds me of summer and cleanliness, sending a jolt of energy and enthusiasm over me.

Scents trigger all sorts of memories and moods, both good and bad. Decide what puts you in a happy place rather than one full of anxiety or sadness. I know that,  for me, there will never be boiled cabbage or Polish sausage cooked in my house because I once caught a case of food poisoning from this pungent dish. And saffron rice gives me headaches, so paella is something I try to avoid. But jasmine rice? Whole different ball game.

Actually, I dislike the smell of most flowers, save for roses. I could sniff those all day long.

Today, be aware of the feelings you get when you inhale. Do you feel happy? Anxious? Nervous? Sexy? Calm? Smart? Energized? Recreate positive memories by surrounding yourself with those scents that draw from a happier place and time. I recommend spending an entire day in the Yankee Candle Co. or sniffing bottles of body wash and lotion at Bath and Body Works. Or, even better, pick wild flowers or introduce fresh, natural scents to your home. Who doesn’t think of summer weekends when she gets a hint of freshly cut grass tickling her nose?

Need some suggestions? Vanilla and lavender have a calming effect. Citrus and minty smells enhance alertness. 

For more research about the effects of scents, visit www.senseofsmell.org.

-sj

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