Last week, the American Thanksgiving holiday allowed for a much-appreciated day of pause from the regular hustle-and-bustle of life. Traditionally, this day of gratitude is for counting our blessings from the year past while, surrounded by the comfort of our loved ones, we celebrate with a large, multi-course feast.
Not everyone may have had the Norman Rockwell picturesque depiction of “Freedom from Want.” Still, taking time to bring our focus away from hassles and onto what we have to be grateful for, has been shown to enhance our well-being. Beyond igniting feel-good emotions, gratitude has many other benefits that have also been researched including:
- positively impacting relationships
- motivating actions
- improving sleep
- effecting wellness outcomes
I have also recently posted on how gratitude can impact the mind-body connection for better physical health, assist with building community, and decrease the detrimental effects of stress.
All of these reasons make “gratitude” appear as a “free wonder-drug;” however, sometimes its hard for people to access that feeling of positivity. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bottle up this cozy emotion and save it for a cold, rainy day?
Maybe we can!!
Although an essential oil can’t give you a literal snuggle during blue sky days, essential oils could influence your psychology into a feeling of thankfulness for life’s blessings.
If you’re thinking, “Dr. Sarah, come on! Really!? What a load of hogwash! These essential oils blends altering emotions are just an airy-fairy, woo-woo marketing ploy!”
But, is it?
Why Emotions on a Bottle Can Be Legit
Essential oils have been shown to balance moods and emotions. They can also support the change of behaviors for more nurturing choices to aid our well-being.
I have written about the many influences smell has on our own individual health as well as for healthy social interactions. Below is a summary:
1. The smell of emotions-the results of a critter study demonstrated that baby rodents experienced fear via an olfactory association (the scent of peppermint). The pups’ fright was based on the influence of researchers programming an association of this scent to an experimental and unpleasant situation for their poor mothers.
2. The bio-psychological impact of smell– odors have been demonstrated to effect emotions via psychological, physiological, and biochemical interactions in the body.
3. Smell has been used as a health indicator- olfaction detection has been correlated to longevity, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
4. The scent-emotion-memory connection- smell can cause a shift in emotion and effect social interaction based on the sniffer’s previous associations with it from their lifetime and from odorant biochemical properties themselves. Furthermore, cultural norms also play a part in response to an odor. (1)
This interaction between smells that are associated with a person’s previous environment and/or experiences, and, the odorants properties have been shown to effect memory retrieval, emotional reactions, and physiological responses. (2) (3) (4)
For example, most people have experienced how the same smell may evoke varied responses in different people based on their associations with that particular odor. These shifts can be psychologically (i.e., mood, emotions) and physiologically (i.e., physical responses such as pulse rate, stress response, etc.) (5)
Smell, therefore, could both positively and negatively impact social cues by the smeller’s response and their scent could be a cause for a pheromonal attraction in others.
5. Smell’s effects go beyond the nose– a 2014 article noted that odor receptors where found throughout the body, not just the nose. They have been found in the skin (think topical application of essential oils), testes, prostate, muscles, and more are being found as time progresses. In fact, Science Daily recently reported on finding two new odor receptors in the lungs!
6. Smell can impact emotional intelligence (EI), a determinant of social connection- due to this connection between smell and the “emotional brain,” scents can affect relationships and connections.
What’s even more interesting is that smells we are aware of can have these effects; however, they also affect our mood and mental state, without conscious awareness.
As the 2014 article in Frontiers Psychology concludes:
Even while we are unaware of it, a world of odors continually envelops us exerting a profound influence on our behavior and the qualitative character of our everyday experiences. These smells contribute to the quality of our life and have a qualitative character such that it is possible for one to be in a qualitative olfactory state, but not be aware that one is undergoing the experience. What is even more controversial is that it is not possible for one to be aware of an olfactory experience without it having a qualitative character.
… Further research is certainly called for, but at this initial stage of inquiry it seems plausible that qualitative-consciousness plays a constitutive role in the formation of olfactory awareness as these states arise at the sensory level and are elicited whenever we either have an awareness of an occurent odor experience or attempt to recollect, imagine, or think about olfactory experiences.
Now that being said, are you open to looking at why essential oils could boost your mood when “Mr. Scrooge” emerges?
I’ll do just that that next week, so stay tuned.
More Reasons to Be Grateful for a Universally Appreciated Single Oil
Who’d have thought!?
Now, there’s more reasons to be grateful for one of the most appreciated, and well-known essential oils worldwide, lavender.
Just when you thought that lavender couldn’t add more to its list of benefits, including mood, neurological, and immune support, as well as antioxidant properties, three new studies proved otherwise. This month of gratitude introduced me to human trials with this essential oil and how it was found to be:
- beneficial for preop anxiety,
- reducing heart rate and blood pressure for open heart surgery participants in an ICU
- decreasing agitation in dementia subjects in a pilot study
Finally, there’s another holiday tradition with this oil to really ignite the my positivity, taste buds, and calm this holiday season…
It’s Time for Lavender Hot Chocolate!
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Thanks for the images Pixabay!