Scents are not magic potions or drugs. If a scent affects your mood and physical state it is because of the emotional association you have to it, and the physiological consequences that emotional state induces. Feeling relaxed slows your heart-rate, feeling excited quickens it. If lavender creates the feeling of calm for you it's because you have experienced deep calm while exposed to lavender in your past. You may have been getting a gentle message and your message therapist was using lavender oil, or you may have been soaking in a warm tub with lavender scented soap, or something else personally comforting. Experimentally, the scent of lavender has been found to make people feel more relaxed and sleep better. Similar outcomes have been found for orange-citrus aromas. Experiments have even shown that a citrus orange scent is better than mood music at making people feel happier and less tense during a stressful situation. The reason why scent is so good at inducing mood is because olfaction has a more direct and immediate connection to the area of the brain that processes emotion than any other sense does.
Shopping, blizzards, school cancellations, cooking, parties, relatives, work. December brings a storm of activities and situations that combine to create the possibility for a great deal of fun or madness. Somewhere in between is the edginess and breathlessness that most of us feel for at least a day or two this month. What can you do to relieve the stress? Yoga and exercise are great if you have the time, but something that doesn't require any of your time is using your nose. Lavender and orange citrus scents have both been scientifically validated to produce relaxation, enhance sleep quality, increase positive mood and reduce tension during stressful situations. These scents are cheap and easy to find, and just a momentary whiff can be enough to turn down your emotional temperature and slow your heart rate. Sound like magic? Well it's not.