When it comes to our homes personal scent, more times than not we can become so accustomed to how our homes smell that we don’t even notice when more foul smells start to appear. When bad smells are caused by things like trash, a lack of cleaning/dusting, laundry, etc. they tend to linger and attach themselves to parts of your home, unknown to you though.
Joseph Allen is a professor at Harvard who recently discussed how for some individuals the “olfactory ambiance of their home can lead to what is known as ‘sick home’ syndrome. Thought to be caused by poor ventilation, mold and the accumulation of bad smells, the symptoms include headaches; eye, nose or throat irritation; dry or itchy skin; or mental fatigue.”
Allen claims, however, that it’s unknown whether or not this syndrome is a physical response to the smells in one’s home, or if it’s more psychological, and has more to do with the mental health aspect that comes with maintaining a clean or messy space. He explained that often our brains tag unpleasant odors as dangerous due to an evolutionary response of associating negative smells with disease and death.
Regardless of if this response is physiological or physical, you should always make sure your house is clean in terms of dusting and taking out the trash. Even further, making sure your house is always smelling pleasant and fresh is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall mood and wellbeing.
Think about when you find yourself in times of deep sadness or stress, entering into a messy space only adds more physical and psychological clutter to your life because it’s just one more thing to worry about. Smelling things like lavender, vanilla, or peppermint in times of overwhelming stress can help relax and center the body.
Pleasant and powerful scents such as rose, citrus, or cinnamon will take you out of whatever overwhelming line of thinking you’re in and return you to the present moment. By focusing on the scent of your home and that present moment you’re more easily able to figure out what you need to do for yourself in order to make your own life easier, and less stressful.
According to research the scent of the South American heliotropin flower is thought to have an extremely calming effect on the body. Allen explained that this flower in particular is used as one of the main ingredients in baby powder, so the scent automatically transports your subconscious to the reassuring and simplistic memories of childhood.
While candles and essential oils are also an amazing way to liven up the scent of any space, they’re not 100% necessary for when you find yourself in times of passing stress or anxiety. Introducing strong smells to your body can immediately jolt you into the present moment, energize your sense and clear your mind. Something as simple as smelling fresh coffee grounds in your cabinet, or garlic frying in a pan can help accomplish this.
Allen explained that smells always retain their ability to evoke a specific memory and/or emotion in us. Compared to every other scent, smelling is the most powerful in terms of sensory cues taking us back to a very specific memory or time in our life. So go out and invest in some fresh flowers, a few cinnamon cloves, and maybe even a candle or two, oh, and also remember to take out your trash periodically.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.