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. So, 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 a deadline, a scented candle can trigger those memories and have a similar effect. To prove they're more than just décor, we found six 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. Researchers Kandhasamy Sowndhararajan and Songmun Kim found that the smell of jasmine could increase a positive mood state and the brain's beta wave activity.
Use Jasmine as your go-to 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 satiate your sweet tooth.
A Japanese study 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 prompted its workers to make 30 percent fewer typing errors as they do without it. According to research out of Ohio State University, the smell of lemon raises levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical that is linked to easier decision-making and increased motivation.
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.
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 the 3 p.m. haze rolls 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.