When an essence can improve your mood.
“And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?“
In this small excerpt from his novel, Marcel Proust explains in full what great evocative power can have, on our subconscious, flavours or smells related to events and memories of our past. Just a small taste of a magdalene soaked in tea, to turn his emotional state upside down: from gray and gloomy to fully joyful. Who has never found themselves immersed in a precise moment of their past, or suddenly feeling better, happier and relaxed, just for having caught in the air a particular scent, a certain fragrance?
But why does this happen? It all depends on our brain. There is a close correlation among smell, memory and emotions. The olfactory system is in fact directly connected with both the hippocampus, the brain structure that manages memory, and the amygdala and limbic system, parts of the brain committed to governing emotions. The inhalation of a certain fragrance turns into a signal that comes directly to these two areas of our brain, activating them, and determining the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which help to produce a variation in our mood or to stimulate the re-enactment of a specific memory.
It is precisely on these mechanisms that aromatherapy is based: the use of different essences to regulate our state of physical and mental well-being.
Speaking of which, let’s now see some essential oils that can come in handy in case we need to “cheer us up.” It will be enough to pour a few drops into a diffuser, so as to permeate the room (at home or at work) with their scent, or even pour a few drops in the morning on the wrist or on a handkerchief, so that they are “within reach” to the need.
Lavender essence is associated with calm. It has a strong rebalancing activity on the central nervous system. The essential oil, with its delicate and light scent, is used as a mood stabilizer and helps relieve depression. It improves the quality of sleep, reduces the sense of restlessness, stress and anxiety and promotes muscle relaxation.
The orange essential oil has a fruity and fresh scent, with calming and relaxing properties. It has an antispasmodic effect, it is therefore suitable for loosening muscle tensions. Useful when you feel particularly anxious, sad, stressed, or even tired and a little off, thanks to its relaxing and energizing dual action.
The citrus and floral bouquet that distinguishes the bergamot immediately induces, in those who inspire it, a sense of lightness and happiness. It helps to reduce states of agitation and stress and can be useful in case of insomnia.
Sage essential oil, besides its well-known healing, deodorant, purifying properties, also possesses the ability, if inhaled, to induce calm and serenity in times of stress, nervousness, in states of distress, when subjected to fears or paranoia.
In addition to the essential oils mentioned above, there are many other essences that can come in handy at times when we feel tired, fatigued, sad; such as the essential oil of cypress, lemon, rosemary (in case fatigue is more “physical” and we need a burst of energy), rose or jasmine. It is up to everyone to understand which of these turns out to have a greater effect on their psyche.