• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
  • Editorial Calendar 19-20
BW Businessworld

Lifestyle: Not Just A Smell

Fragrances have a powerful effect on our energy levels and moods. They can invigorate and provide stress relief while also calming and relaxing you

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived,” said American author Hellen Keller, who was deaf and blind. She couldn’t have been more right. Just the whiff of a familiar smell immediately conjures up pleasant memories, bringing a smile to our faces. It’s not surprising then that fragrances are believed to have a powerful effect on our energy levels and moods and scents are considered more evocative than sounds and images. “Fragrances affect our mood by influencing the sensory pathways reaching our limbic system — a part of the brain which governs our emotions,” explain an avurveda consultant at Forest Essentials, a manufacturer of luxury ayurvedic beauty products.

As per ayurveda, essential oils with fragrances have the ability to induce peace, advance mysticism, deepen meditation and heighten awareness. While certain fragrances uplift our mood, some provide a restful tranquilising effect. By simply smelling the correct scents, you can lower your blood pressure, sharpen your mind, and improve your outlook towards life. Lavender and chamomile, for example, are well known for their relaxing effect, whereas citric smells such as lemon inspire energy and vitality, as do eucalyptus and mint. Vanilla and cinnamon, on the other hand, have an arousing effect. So next time you reach for your perfume, think about it. The fragrance you wear can act as a much-needed Monday morning pick-me-up or help you relax at the end of a long day.

Aromas @ The Workplace
There is a strong case to be made for the right kind of fragrances to be used at the workplace. Walk into most offices and you can smell a concoction of aromas from coffee to body odour to strong perfume. Whether we like it or not, most offices are smelly places that hamper concentration. By introducing the right aromas, focus, productivity and even memory retention can be increased, improving efficiency. For instance, in Japan, the Takasago Corporation (one of the country’s biggest producer of fragrances) carried out research into how smells affect the accuracy of typists. It found 54 per cent made fewer errors when they could smell lemon, 33 per cent fewer with jasmine and 20 per cent fewer with lavender.

“Essential oils also have anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, therefore, making them ideal for use in environments with a large number of people, such as offices, to keep germs at bay,” explains Lakshmi Venkat, a Bangalore-based aromatherapy practitioner.
Here are a few smells that are ideal for use at the workplace:

The refreshing scent of lemon increases concentration, clears the mind and reduces anxiety. Moreover, it has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that can help fight sore throats and colds by boosting the body's immune system and improving circulation.

Rosemary: This is the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up. It is stimulating and energising and in addition to improving memory retention, helps fight physical exhaustion and mental fatigue.

Lavender: The calming properties of lavender help control emotional stress. It has a soothing effect on the nerves and can relieve nervous tension and depression as well as treat headaches and migraines. A few whiffs of this aroma during work breaks, especially in the afternoon when there is a slump in concentration, can help recharge you.

Jasmine: On a particularly stressful day, take a few whiffs of jasmine to calm your nerves. It will not only relieve tension and anxiety but will also revitalise you. Jasmine is known to boost confidence and uplift spirits. At the same time, research has also shown that the scent of jasmine in your bedroom leads to a more restful night of sleep and a greater level of alertness the following day. So make sure the smell is only calming you and not making you sleepy.

Cinnamon: There is a strong possibility that the smell of cinnamon is more likely to make you hungry than anything else, but if research is to be believed a whiff of cinnamon will improve your memory and cognitive functioning. The stimulating properties in cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration.

Peppermint: Well, there’s no doubt that peppermint is the perfect wake-up call. Think of how your toothpaste or mouthwash clears your brain. Peppermint is a natural stimulant which helps boost energy, increases concentration and stimulates clear thinking. You can use a diffuser to spread the aroma of peppermint throughout your workplace.

Eucalyptus: Most of us use eucalyptus oil to relieve respiratory and sinus congestion, but the aroma of eucalyptus oil also has a refreshing and rejuvenating effect on the body. It is supposed to increase blood flow to the brain, making your mind sharper and more efficient.

While the above aromas are perfect to be used at the workplace either through a diffuser or air freshener, you should be careful of the kind of fragrance you wear when going for a business meeting. Ideally the fragrance should be mild as a strong, seductive fragrance can create a very negative impression. Sharp citrus or spicy aftershaves/colognes should be avoided. According to the consultants at Forest Essentials, “The milder the fragrances, the more emphatic the outcomes are. You can choose wisely from very subtle floral fragrance like nargis to a generic honey and vanilla. The idea is to retain a pleasant working atmosphere rather than individualistic fragrances that define people.”

Relaxation and Rejuvenation
While we all know that aromatherapy massages can relax you, what’s interesting is that they can rejuvenate and energise you too. “It all depends upon the essential oils that are being used. While a massage with frankincense and Indian rosewood with its fresh and sweet aroma calms the senses, one with nagarmotha and fennel with its woody and intoxicating aroma uplifts the senses and energises you,” says T Hemanth Kumar, spa manger of Jiva Grande at Chennai’s Taj Coromandel. So next time you are travelling for work and have time in between meetings, try going for an energising massage, you may find yourself being able to concentrate better.