Many of us reach for a fresh brew when sluggishness strikes, but we could be missing a trick.
Following your nose might just provide the answers to help you through day-to-day challenges, including stress, dips in motivation and feeling so wired you can’t sleep.
And while freshly baked bread, sizzling bacon and steaming coffee are reportedly the nation’s favourite fragrances, the smells that can really get us through the day are plant-based.
“Ever since Proust wrote In Search Of Lost Time [where a character recalls long-lost childhood memories through smell], scent has been recognised as an important factor in moods and triggering memories,” says Susanne Haar, pharmacist at Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy and a Bach Foundation Registered Practitioner.
“Different scents affect us in different ways. For example, lavender could remind you of calming moments, rosemary could be good for brain activity and memory, and ylang ylang might put you in a sensual mood.”
One way to diffuse your scents is with an aroma diffuser, like an Ellia diffuser. Aroma diffusers spread the essential oil throughout the air and advantages of using them including purifying the air, reducing dust in the aid, spreading the scent quickly around the room as well as humidifying the air. Not only do the scents impact how we feel, the ultrasonic device creates a cold water vapour so that the oils are not heated and maintain their quality and effectiveness.
We spoke to Rima Shah, a fully-qualified aromatherapist, complementary therapies lecturer and owner of Calm and Clear complementary therapies centre in London on which scents can help you through the day.
The 7am mood shaker - lemon
Woken up feeling blue? Taking a whiff of something citrus-based could help put you in a better mental place.
And with a whopping 34% of women surveyed by Radox crediting the scent of lemons with boosting their mood, you’ll be in good company.
“Lemon and citrus scents are fantastic for lifting the mood, particularly if you're feeling glum,” says Rima.
“Lemons grow in sunny places, so you can think of them as giving us sunnier outlooks. They’re also good if you're feeling low in mental energy and need to wake up a bit.”
The 10am brain sharpener - frankincense
Take a cue from religious orders and enlist frankincense to sharpen your wits.
While good for relieving stress and helping to gain a restful night’s sleep, frankincense is also great for aiding concentration. “Frankincense is the main scent used for meditation, so it can help focus and clear the mind,” says Rima.
“It’s usually burned in temples, churches and synagogues for this reason.”
The 1pm slump-lifter - peppermint
If your lunch has left you leaden, pick up a peppermint pong to keep you alert. “Peppermint is great to use as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up,” says Rima. “It’s especially good for a heavy head and headaches and with the sleepiness that comes from overeating.”
But be careful with your dosage. “Peppermint is one to use sparingly, as it can leave you feeling sick or cause a headache if you use too much,” she adds.
The 4pm balancer - rose oil
Thought to be an aphrodisiac, rose oil is also superb for restoring balance.
“Rose is considered the queen of oils and is excellent for [women’s] hormonal mood swings, mental fatigue and PMT [premenstrual syndrome] blues,” says Rima.
“This is a precious oil, so maybe just use it for massage and in rollerballs rather than in a vaporiser.”
The 10pm sleep-inducer - lavender
Milky drinks and baths might send some into the land of nod, but if sleep is still a long time coming for you, you could do much worse than reach for the lavender.
“Lavender is well known for relaxation and for good reason,” explains Rima. “It helps to clear and relax the mind and to aid a calm sleep.
“Use sparingly though, as too much has the opposite effect and will keep you awake.”
For the best impact, Rima suggests using it in a vaporiser in your bedroom, in the bath or dabbing a few drops on your pillow.