Oh sweet heavens, how we need something to help uplift our spirits and keep us keeping on. If you’ve just about reached the end of your rope, we’ve some fragrant ways to tie a knot in it and help you hang on…
For so long, we’ve marked the days not in encounters and newness, but with calendars full of red slashes: the things we didn’t do, the people we’ve not seen (perhaps for all of that time), the trips we’ve cancelled and how few hugs we’ve had from loved ones, if any hugs were had at at all.
It’s not just whimsy and conjecture that fragrance can help in troubled times – your sense of smell is directly linked to emotions and memory, so wafts of a favourite scent throughout the day can be a perfumed pick-up for you, or worn as a fragrant shield against the world in general. And there’s research to back up those beliefs.
A team of scientists, led by Christina Zelano from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, used neuroimaging and intercranial electrophysiology to prove the hippocampus (the part of the brain that stores memories and emotional reactions) is more directly linked with smell than any other sense. According to the study, published in Science Direct:
“This new research is the first to rigorously compare functional pathways connecting different human sensory systems with the hippocampus. The striking findings reveal our olfactory pathways connect more strongly with the hippocampus than any other sense.”
Smell is the only sense that’s directly plugged in to this area of the brain that controls our emotional responses. ‘In mammals, the sense of smell is uniquely linked to the part of the brain associated with emotions and the creation of memories,’ explains Dr Roux. All other senses – taste, hearing, sight, and touch – are processed by other regions of the brain before being linked to the limbic system. Our ability to smell ‘…is a window into parts of the brain related to core functions, like pleasure, emotion, and memory,’ agrees Jayant Pinto, MD, author of the study and an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.
Although a study published by Frontiers in Psychology found that tests with citrus and feelings of positivity ‘yielded inconsistent results’, they also discovered that ‘Indeed, depressive individuals seem to display a specific preference for citrus fragrances…’ Indeed, citrus scents, such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit, have been proven to help you feel more alert – and better about your body. A fascinating study at the University of Sussex showed the smell of a lemon makes us feel physically lighter, and as sciencedaily.com reported, ‘could help people feel better about their body image.’
Whatever your preference, we have no doubt there are perfumes out there to help you feel brighter, more alert and ready to face the day…
Shay & Blue Mermaid Kisses
The perfect pocket-sized pick me up, this is all swaying palm trees and wiggling your toes in warm sand as you drink that first holiday cocktail. If citrus doesn’t do it for you, try crispness and zing via apple and salty samphire sea lily atop luscious honeydew melon.
£12.50 for 10ml eau de toilette
Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1
Sparkling fresh, a sudden snapshot of summer memories of laughing while dancing in a garden, the fizz of Champagne bubbles still on your lips, a warm breeze swirling rose petals at your feet. Spray whenever you need reminding that these better days will come again.
£54 for 50ml eau de parfum
Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot
Whisking you to the light-filled royal courtyards of Seville, bitter orange, sun-drenched bergamot and mandarin giggle into neroli and the cardamom-flecked, florist-shop freshness of galbanum; while ylang ylang is (unusually) found in the base, making for a giddily joyous landing.
£120 for 50ml eau de parfum
Clarins Eau Dynamisante
Containing essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petit grain, ginseng and white tea, it leaves you feeling like you’ve just bounced out of a spa treatment. Book the appointment and splash this on at will as you countdown…
£52 for 200ml eau de Cologne
La Montaña First Light Reed Diffuser
It isn’t only fragrances we wear that can lift our mood. We adore the freshly squeezed sparkle of citrus in this – delivered via candle or reed diffuser – along with a fresh, herbaceous breeze that altogether evokes the tendrils of sunshine, that kiss of dawn that wake you from a dream.
£35 for 120ml reed diffuser
By Suzy Nightingale