The COVID-19 pandemic re-established the importance of nature in enhancing human health and welfare. Earlier studies had only partially examined how and why certain aspects of nature (such as noises, colours, and fragrances) impact health.
With this DICE university study, it is clear that smells play a significant role in providing health advantages of being in contact with nature. These benefits are strongly associated with people’s own memories and certain ecological qualities and processes (e.g., fallen leaves rotting in the winter).
This research published in Ambio, a Journal of Environment and Society, looks at how fragrance affects well-being in nature. Researchers discovered that scents impact several aspects of human health. Physical well-being received maximum attention, notably with reference to comfort, relaxation and renewal. The absence of a fragrance was also thought to boost physical wellness and promote relaxation by creating a clean atmosphere free of foul odours and pollutants. These findings are significant for public health practitioners since relaxation lowers cortisol levels, which are linked to various disorders.
The study, based in woodland settings during all four seasons, found that certain fragrances brought up memories of playtime with children. Instead of the woods, several participants made meaningful associations with certain odours and linked them to a memorable experience. They concluded that emotional responses to the memories positively impacted overall wellness.
Postdoctoral Research Associate at DICE, Dr Jessica Fisher, said, “Nature is a multi-modal experience. Our study suggests that scent may be significant for wellness.”
The study findings can be beneficial for promoting well-being outcomes through nature. It can guide the work of healthcare practitioners, public health experts, policymakers and landscape designers. Small initiatives can have a positive impact on public health.
As we have seen smell can play an important role in our overall well-being, here are three ways to incorporate aromatherapy into daily life:
- Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your bathing water and treat yourself to an aromatic bath.
Give yourself a face massage with essential oils. Do not apply them directly to the face. Always use carrier oil.
Use an oil diffuser or light an essential oil-based candle and let your home smell your favourite fragrance.
Let us also look at commonly used essential oils–
- Eucalyptus oil: It is an excellent expectorant and decongestant. It is beneficial for cold/flu season. It also helps in clearing and energizing the mind.
Lavender oil: It is calming and helps to reduce anxiety.
Lemongrass oil: It works well for cleansing and is an excellent insect repellent. It is antiviral and antimicrobial.