Remember to Keep Things Super Simple (KISS)

  • Find small, simple ways to soothe
  • Choose ones that resonate with you
  • And do them again and again, especially when you’re feeling strong, so you’ll be able to access them easily when there’s a wobble

And so this week we’re looking at how we can use our sense of smell in various ways to stay calm and relaxed.

This is the third blog in my series, all about using the five senses to find super simple ways to reduce stress and anxiety and to stay calm and relaxed.

Check out the previous blogs here on Sight, Hearing plus how to build your Mindful First Aid Kit to deal with stress emergencies.  This hints and tips will be a great foundation to building your own first aid kit for times of stress.

And remember, always use the rules of KISS to choose which techniques will work for you.

Using our Sense of Smell to Stay Calm and Relaxed

Here’s some of the techniques I love:

Bucket & spade at the beach

1.  Find the Familiar

Our sense of smell is more closely linked to memory that any other sense, and is highly emotive.  The olfactory bulb, the brain’s “smell centre”, is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus – areas of the brain responsible for memory and intense emotions.

So if you can find smells that makes you feel safe, happy or calm, then use them whenever you need topping up.

Perhaps a jumper from a loved one you’re missing, some bread baking that makes you feel comforted, or a candle that takes you back to the joy of a childhood holiday.

And remember, from the Mindful First Aid Kit, Familiar = Safe.  It tells the fight or flight response that the danger has passed.

p.s. do take care to pick your smells wisely – the opposite can happen if they remind you of difficult times.

2.  Aromatherapy – The Power of Plants

I’m a big believer in aromatherapy and love to use essential oils in my self care routine.  I have a few lovely books to dip into when I want to tackle something specific, but generally I just go for the smells I like!

And they’re the smells that make me feel calm, relaxed or uplifted.  To me, the association is so strong and the smells take me there almost instantly.

I have an oil burner and diffuser which I use, and have even been known to make my own aromatherapy candles, room sprays and bath oil blends.

And I love the various roll on remedies you can get – perfect for a quick calm fix wherever you are.

Why not give essential oils a go?  They’re so simple and super effective.

Aromatherapy - The Power of Plants

Forest bathing

3.  Forest Bathing

I enjoy a walk most mornings and my route takes me through a small wood.  Sometimes, I’ll try different paths but I always get drawn back to the trees.  They feel like they recharge the batteries for me.  The place is packed with birdsong so I put it down to that, but then I found out about the Japanese practice of forest bathing.

It’s been scientifically proven to be good for you, reducing blood pressure, lowering cortisol levels and improving memory and concentration.

And of course that could be from taking some time out in the natural world, slowing down and hearing those sounds of nature.

But it also looks like it’s from something we smell and inhale in the forest.  A chemical is released by trees and plants called phytoncides which we take in without noticing.  It’s thought that it boosts the immune system and can impact the hormonal, circulatory and nervous systems.

So go smell some trees.  It’ll chill you out and boost your resilience!

Which smells help you when you’re stressed?  And how to do you bring them into your life?

Next post will be all about how to be calm and relax using our sense of taste…