Emotions. Everyone has them (even when we pretend not to). Everyone responds to them differently. Sometimes they can be joyful. Other times they can be overwhelming. One thing they all have in common… they can effect our bodies physically and mentally, even when we aren’t aware of them.
Emotions on your brain
Do you remember learning about the limbic center of the brain? The amygdala? The hippocampus? Its a part of the brain where we store memories and emotions. I was really excited recently when I read about researchers in 1989 agreeing that the amygdala plays a major role in storing and releasing emotional trauma. Less known to most people, these researchers also agreed that aromas significantly effected triggering various emotional responses.
Of the 5 senses to choose from, the amygdala (often referred to as the “emotional brain”) actually directly responds to the sense of smell! Hows that for anatomy trivia?! This shows a direct “hardwired” link between what we smell and how we feel. I found this especially interesting because our emotions play such a huge role in our day to day lives.
In fact, Kate Fox explains it well in “The Smell Report”:
“Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion. Smell sensations are relayed to the cortex, where ‘cognitive’ recognition occurs, only after the deepest parts of our brains have been stimulated. Thus, by the time we correctly name a particular scent as, for example, ‘vanilla,’ the scent has already activated the limbic system, triggering more deep-seated emotional responses.”
Smell impacts how we see, think, and feel!
A Japanese study found that inhaling essential oils can actually affect your sympathetic nerves responses. Certain oils were found to be stimulating, while others were found to be calming. You may find this study to be interesting as well, where oils have been found to measurably decrease the stress response.
Different scents may also play a powerful role in remembering memories, especially emotional memories. Olfactory input directly impacts the amygdala and hippocampus where your emotions are processed, which explains why certain smells bring back certain feelings and memories – like the smell of pumpkin pie may bring you back to old Thanksgiving days with your grandparents. This article from NBC breaks it down really well.
So, if what you smell can directly impact your feelings, then why not use different scents to help us manage those feelings? That is a great question. Have you tried it? I have through using essential oils, and its done wonders for helping me harness control over how I feel and react to stress.
Which oils help the most with emotions?
Well… pretty much all of them! Some help more than others. My personal favorites include oils to help me stop grumpy moods in their tracks, oils to help me chill out, and oils to help me with maximizing my confidence.
Here are a few I use nearly every day:
Embrace a little more Joy
It’s an uplifting blend of bergamot, ylang ylang, geranium , lemon, coriander, tangerine, jasmine, Roman chamomile, palmarosa, and rose oils.
I often wear Joy as a nontoxic perfume. I keep it on hand in a bottle with a roller top on it, and swipe the roller across the back of my neck and my wrists (and sometimes over my heart, when I really need relief). I can literally feel my nervousness and sadness melt away seconds after I apply it. It’s absolutely amazing!