Memories and Mood

Nothing brings to life again a forgotten memory like fragrance.

– C Poindexter.

Did you know that you can use aromatherapy to improve your mood and remind you of memories??

Scent plays a huge role in how we think and feel, AND triggers memories. Our olfactory system (sense of smell) has a direct connection to the part of the brain (the amygdala) which acts as our emotional processing center and a direct link to memories. Don’t we all have a grandmother or aunt who had a certain “smell” that when we smell it we transport in time? This is why when you smell certain things you may experience a particular memory. Pretty interesting, right?

My little granddaughter Sawyer recently took home a box of crystals from my house and exclaimed to her daddy the other day “oh no, these don’t smell like maymay anymore”. I’ve been wearing the same blend of oils every time I am around her since the day she was born. Love that she associates my “smell” already. I have my grandmothers old medicine cabinet in my home and when I open it I instantly go back to being a little girl and getting treated with iodine and a bandage. Since I live in the house I grew up in, every once in a while when I open the coat closet I get a whiff of my mom and her career as a hairdresser and remember her coming home tired after giving perms all day and hang up her coat. It is such a crazy thing that our limbic brain holds onto memories that are associated with smell. Definitely check out this post about the brain…it is fascinating!

In my work with people with dementia and other neurological conditions, I use aromatherapy all the time. I love to share a blend of citrus oils with a touch of vanilla and tell a story that we are all young kids and the ice cream truck comes and on the side of the truck is something that smells just like that. I put a few drops in each of their hands and they smell it while I tell the story. Sure enough within a few seconds, someone will say “creamsicle” or “orange sherbet”. Sadly though not all memories are good. I usually spray the area that I will be teaching to gift an aromatherapy boost before the class. One day I sprayed a blend of orange, cinnamon, and clove. To me it smells like fall and the holidays, but to one of my students the clove triggered a horrible childhood memory and he was unable to stay in the class. I felt terrible and realized that not all smells are going to be welcomed. Lesson for me learned. Now I stick with pretty benign smells like citrus, lavenders and trees.

Pretty amazing that now that that we know this, we can use certain oils to uplift our mood or even relieve feelings of stress or worry and also create or trigger memories.

What is your go to mood oil? My all-time favorite is Wild Orange! It’s a beautiful “balancing” oil, meaning that depending on what are are feeling it can either lift us up or calm us down. It is a very unique citrus oil that has some pretty amazing benefits. I love it!!!! Heavenly! The blend that I have been wearing since my granddaughter was born that she now associates with me is orange, lavender, patchouli, rose and sandalwood.

If you are not sure but would like to try I’m happy to send you a sample to help your mood and memories!

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