Neuroscience & aromatherapy: Exploring the smell of success

Dr Tara SwartMore than ever before, we're aware of the issues that poor mental health brings to individuals and our communities. Whether it's depression, anxiety or stress based, many of us are turning to natural solutions to master our emotions, lift our moods and help us begin to deal with more deep-rooted issues.  

Aroma experts, Aromatherapy Associates, state that 500 million people worldwide suffer with anxiety, whilst Google searches for aromatherapy and essential oils increased by 70% last year.

“Aromatherapy is a dynamic, holistic therapy that affects the senses on multiple levels as it treats the body, beautifies the skin and you can use the pure essential oils to revive, balance, uplift or renew you both emotionally and physically,” say the brand.

Woman smelling aromatherapy oil
Aromatherapy is a dynamic, holistic therapy that affects the senses on multiple levels as it treats the body.
Confident in the results that their essential oil-based products can have in inducing a positive impact on mood, the UK-based company have recently appointed neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart as their new spokesperson.

The connection between aroma and channelling the power of the brain is incredibly strong since the olfactory nerve connects the nose directly to the limbic system, the intuitive, emotional pathways of the brain. Triggering the olfactory system can alter overall wellbeing in a positive manner both physically and emotionally.

According to Dr Swart, aromatherapy can be used alongside visualisation to trigger the brain to create positive associations. The brain is malleable, and adopting new or adapting existing habits is a proven way to rewire neural pathways, known as neuroplasticity, Dr Swart's area of expertise.

All five senses – smell, touch, taste, sight and sound – can be used to rewire neural pathways and improve overall wellbeing. Aromatherapy Associates suggest incorporating the following into your day:

Start your day with a feel good ritual that also promotes healthy skin circulation. Begin by dry body brushing with Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Brush, then massage a capful of Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil onto your torso before stepping into the bath or shower.

Get outside! Check out your local park or green space, or walk home amongst the trees. Pay attention to the details that surround you, the trees, leaves, branches, flower, fauna and wildlife, proven to lower stress and boost your wellbeing.

Woman walking in the park
Check out your local park or green space, or walk home amongst the trees, to lower stress and boost your wellbeing.
Take time to be still. Find a quiet place, apply Aromatherapy Associates' Revive Morning Roller Ball to your wrists, close your eyes and bring wrists to your nose, take some deep breaths. Savour the moment and pay attention to the sounds around you; when your mind wanders, return to where you are and what you can hear. By stopping and allowing your body to reboot you will naturally be recharged.

Alternatively, create a playlist of songs which makes you feel positive. Use a Roller Ball whilst listening so that the next time you smell the same blend your mind will recall your best energised self.

Food is our natural source of energy so choose it wisely, but don't forget to take your time to sit and enjoy it. Leave your phone in the other room, avoid eating at your work desk, or eating standing up on the go. Take time to sit at a table, acknowledge each bite, notice the texture and taste of your food. Paying attention, or eating mindfully, at mealtimes allows you to hear your body's cues of when it is satisfied.

Each morning, or evening, take five minutes to focus on you. Warm a drop of Revive Body Oil between your hands, cup to your face and inhale deeply three times to enjoy a mindful, aromatic moment and restore inner emotional balance, all before applying the oil to your body for soft, nourished skin.

Dr Tara Swart says: “If you took a bath using the Aromatherapy Associates Revive oil on a regular basis, your brain would begin to associate those smells with relaxation and selfcare. So, in future when you smell, say, Grapefruit or Ylang Ylang you will recall feeling revived and uplifted, which triggers positive emotional and physical responses.”