There’s more to fragrance than scent: It’s a gateway to memories, experiences, and emotions. Our sensory system is connected to the emotional center of the brain, meaning if you wore your favorite perfume on a first date, a spritz might conjure up romantic feelings even after the event has passed. This scent-memory link can also be used to boost your alertness and productivity. If you associate your morning cup of tea with reading the news or the smell of coffee with working hard on deadline, a scented candle can trigger those memories and have a similar effect.
To prove they're more than just décor, we found five science-backed relaxing candle scents that can boost your mood, soothe nerves, improve attention, and more. Light ’em up.
Feeling anxious about a deadline? Floral scents such as jasmine have been used in traditional aromatherapy rituals for centuries, and there’s a good reason for that. A group of German researchers have found that the smell of jasmine could be as calming as valium. The surprising study showed the floral scent helps soothe nerves, making it an ideal desktop candle fragrance for high-stress days.
If you’ve noticed the smooth scent of vanilla makes you feel uplifted, relaxed, or even sensuous, you’re not alone. It turns out the sweet scent has been shown to have a strong effect on mood. An Oxford Journal study found that vanilla is naturally uplifting and relaxing. Another hidden benefit of sweet-scented candles: They curb cravings. Light a coconut or vanilla candle after dinner to stop your sweet tooth.
A surprising Japanese study has found a strong link between the scent of citrus fruit and work efficiency. A local fragrance company discovered that infusing its office with lemon scent caused its workers to make half the amount of typing errors than usual. Another business also used citrus and eucalyptus to keep employees alert, showing a zesty scent could be the key to productivity.
PINE AND CEDAR
Imagine strolling through a pine forest, with shafts of light twinkling through the canopy and the woody scent filling your senses. It’s no surprise nature is a great relaxant, but science suggests you don’t have to take a vacation to reap the benefits. One study found forest scents like pine and cedar can reduce stress and promote feelings of greater well-being. Perfect for a lounge room, close your eyes, inhale the burning candle, and be transported to a calm mental space.
Need to refocus for an afternoon meeting? Wheeling Jesuit University has found a link between the smell of cinnamon and better attention. Keep a cinnamon candle on your desk and inhale the spicy aroma to sharpen your mind when a 3 p.m. haze sets in.
No time for yoga? The smell of lavender can decrease your heart rate and help recharge your mind during a lunch break. Researchers have also found lavender can even help prevent that mid-afternoon slump in concentration.