May 20th, 2020

Change Your Mood and Lower Your Stress With Aromatherapy

Chelsey Owen, Atelier Madrona’s master perfumer, has been traditionally trained in the fine art of perfumery. She is currently working with EQ Office to create signature scents for its properties, with the goal of making our tenants feel more relaxed, inspired and productive at work.

Editors Note: This article is part of our ongoing series about how to support wellness at work during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

A fragrant room can create a pleasant environment, but aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of extracts and oils from plants, can have a profound impact on your emotions, nervous system, mental functioning and general health, especially during stressful times.

A scent has the ability to transport you to a certain time and place, reactivating a particular memory or feeling.

Our sense of smell affects 75% of our daily emotions, and a single scent can influence our behavior and trigger memories almost instantaneously. Creating a healthy workplace culture with aromatherapy — whether at your company’s office or at your kitchen counter — can help you to feel more balanced, improve your ability to focus, increase your productivity at work and enhance your creativity. 

Aromatherapy has a deep history as a medicinal practice, going back thousands of years. More recently, research studies have verified the physiological and psychological effects of specific natural scents on our mood, emotions, energy, focus, productivity and ability to sleep. In addition, many extracts from nature have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even aphrodisiac properties.

How does healthy scenting work?

The therapeutic benefits of scent are believed to stimulate smell receptors in the nose that connect directly to the nervous and limbic system, the region of the brain that governs emotion and memories.

The close connection between the limbic system and the olfactory gland, which registers smell, helps to explain the power of our sense of smell. A scent has the ability to transport you to a certain time and place, reactivating a particular memory or feeling.

The impact of terpenes

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The essential oils used in aromatherapy are taken from petals, peels, bark, resins and roots of flowers, herbs and trees. They contain organic aromatic compounds, called terpenes, that give plants their characteristic scent. In nature, these terpenes protect the plants from animals grazing or from germs that cause disease.

Studies suggest that healthy scenting stimulates your hypothalamus to produce mood-elevating chemicals, such as serotonin. Recent research also indicates that terpenes can directly modulate the activity of brain cells.

Healthy scenting has the ability to improve your life and your health in the following ways:

Reduce stress

Stress is more than just an unpleasant psychological state. Persistent stress can result in serious physiological symptoms, including high blood pressure, an increased heart rate and gastrointestinal issues. Stress itself can be difficult to avoid, but studies have shown that healthy scenting can reduce the perception of stress, by decreasing levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol, and increasing feelings of contentment. Certain scents have been shown to balance the central nervous system, easing nervous tension, anxiety and stress.

Examples:  Anise, benzoin, bergamot, clary sage, frankincense, labdanum, lavender, shiu wood 

Improve focus

In a world that values multitasking, and during conditions of chaos and uncertainty, deep focus can be difficult to achieve. Research suggests that certain scents can help improve concentration, cognitive performance and mental clarity.

Examples: Basil, cedarwood, chamomile, clove, cypress, grapefruit, juniper leaf, peppermint, pine, vetiver

Increase energy

Physical and mental fatigue are common symptoms of a busy professional life. Feeling tired can lead to low motivation, decreased vitality and further stress, which can end up being either the cause or effect of depression.

Scents can be used to stimulate your brain and body, to generate energy, renew vitality and uplift your mood.

Examples: Cinnamon, eucalyptus, fir, ginger, lemon, orange, black pepper, spearmint, thyme

Improve sleep

Our sleep habits have a crucial influence on our physical and mental well-being. Many studies have found a positive correlation between improved sleep and the use of specific scents. Simply spritzing your pillow could help you to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.

Examples:  Elemi heart, cedarwood, clary sage, labdanum, lavender, Roman chamomile, styrax, sweet marjoram, valerian

During these times of uncertainty, we need all the support we can get. Using blends of natural essential oils and extracts is a powerful way to change your environment for the better, wherever you are. 

Home office tips

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  • Buy a waterless, cold-air diffuser to put dry, breathable, healthy molecules into the air. Essential oils break down with heat, so it is preferable to use a diffuser that does not alter the essential oils. Waterless diffusers put a dry mist into the air, which avoids staining fabrics and furniture.

  • Buy high-quality essential oils for the greatest aromatherapeutic benefit.

Experiment with your own blend of individual ingredients to achieve the desired effect. Alternatively, try one of these simple blends:

Reduce stress

  • 4 drops lavender

  • 4 drops orange

  • 2 drops frankincense

Improve focus

  • 3 drops peppermint

  • 3 drops rosemary

  • 4 drops lemon

Increase engergy

  • 3 drops juniper berry

  • 4 drops grapefruit

  • 3 drops Douglas fir

Improve sleep

  • 4 drops lavender

  • 3 drops vetiver

  • 3 drops marjoram

About the author: 

Chelsey Owen, Atelier Madrona’s master perfumer, has a deep understanding of aromachology, the study of the effects of smell on psychology and physiology. As a bespoke perfumer, she creates highly personal, custom-blended fragrances for her clients. Her signature style is defined by her love of natural raw materials and her precision in using them. She works only with the highest quality essential oils and extracts from nature, sourced from all over the world.

SPACE by Atelier Madrona creates custom scents designed to capture the essence of a corporate brand. SPACE healthy fragrances evoke specific emotions, influence behavior and activate physiological responses that are consistent with a company’s brand message and overall business goals.  

chelsey@SPACEbyAM.com | www.SPACEbyAM.com