Want Total Mind-Body Health? Use Your Scents

Posted on March 5, 2024

You’re working out, eating well and drinking plenty of water. But your mind is racing and you can’t sleep? Or you wake up feeling drained and lack energy all day?

This is where a total mind-body approach to wellness comes in. We’ve spoken about it before (https://flexhk.com/so-you-think-you-have-mental-wellness/) but now we’re taking it a step further. Why? Because total mind-body health not only incorporates food, sleep, exercise and emotional awareness, but understanding how our major senses are nurtured – and a big one we often overlook is our incredibly powerful sense of smell.

It’s not pseudo-science either.

Quite simply, a smell enters the nose and travels through the olfactory bulb, which helps the brain process smells. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, which includes the amygdala. This is primarily responsible for processing emotions and has a lot to do with the formation of memories.

That’s why odors can cause a spark of nostalgia, dread, comfort, relaxation or excitement. It’s thought that it works so well because smell goes directly to the limbic system and – bang – it triggers an emotion. All the other senses have to be processed first.

Knowing this, it makes sense to utilize its powers more effectively.

According to a report in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200711/the-hidden-force-fragrance)
we can use our sense of smell to train our brain to relax – instantly.

Pamela Dalton, a sensory psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says to choose a distinctive odor and pair that aroma with a calming meditation session. After a few sessions, the odor itself will elicit a relaxed state, even when you don’t have time to meditate.

Furthermore, sense of smell can be deployed to improve your workout.
“Peppermint scent increases activity in the brain area that wakes us up in the morning,” Bryan Raudenbush, a psychologist, says in the report. His research has shown that exercisers run faster and do more push-ups when exposed to the scent. Simply try a few drops of peppermint oil on a wristband.
And while we all know about lavender and relaxation, one scent not always noted as a sleep enhancer is Jasmine.
“Our research has shown that the scent of jasmine in your bedroom leads to a more restful night of sleep and a greater level of alertness the following day,” Dr. Raudenbush says. “Other labs have found that the scent increases the brain waves associated with deep sleep. Put some jasmine oil in a bedside aroma diffuser or sprinkle a few drops on your pillow.”

Few understand the scent-emotion connection better than Hong Kong-based Kate Crofton-Atkins, who was inspired to create the luxury fragrance brand Cochine (https://www.cochine.com) after moving to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

“For me, fragrance can be the thing that makes a difference in my day,” says Kate.

The first scent she developed was White Jasmine & Gardenia, so it will always be one of her favorites.

“I came up with the idea for it thanks to the jasmine I used to smell every morning on my bicycle ride along the small side streets of Saigon to buy bread for breakfast. It was unlike anything I had smelt before and when I researched it, I discovered it was called Champa Jasmine and indigenous to southern Vietnam, it was the inspiration for the first fragrance I created.”
Kate says that the effects a particular fragrance can have on her mood and general sense of wellbeing are really significant.

“The all-round effects of an uplifting fragrance have the real ability to lift my mood and change my day,” she adds. “The end of a busy day is marked by coming home and lighting a candle to create not only a beautiful scent at home but also an atmosphere that is luxurious and calming.

“It’s my signal to relax and feeds into a sense of self-care, which we can all forget when trying to juggle work and children. The ritual and the fragrance go hand in hand.”

Then there’s the rush of the morning school run. Kate’s energy boost scents are fresh, invigorating fragrances, such as her citrus-scented Water Hyacinth & Lime Blossom Hand & Body Lotion.

“I also rub a bit behind my neck before I head out for the day and I love a spritz of Tata Harper’s hydrating Floral Essence Facial spray.”

Great news! Flex clients can now experience a host of coveted Cochine products. For New Year exercise inspiration, buy our 2018 package – 12 group classes for $2018 – and receive a Cochine goody bag for free. Each lovely linen bag contains a 50ml shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and a 50g soap in the refreshingly citrus and unisex Water Hyacinth and Lime Blossom scent. Find out more at https://flexhk.com/promotions/


Share this article


Typically replies within an hour