In massage therapy training, therapists have the option to choose classes focused on the power of scents and how they connect to relaxation, mental health, and emotional memory.
While people may be drawn to certain scents for their health properties (lavender comes to mind), there are others they might connect with through association. To this day, I still remember the intoxicating scent of my dad’s air conditioning unit and how it smelled like dust and ice cold water. Whether or not you’re someone who primarily experiences the world through your senses, you might find that infusing your environment with aromas can be very therapeutic to your overall health.
The Healing Properties of Scent
“Aroma has direct access to your brain and your sense of smell,” said Melanie Bartley, a wellness coach at doTERRA essential oils. “The amygdala is the center for emotions in our limbic system. That system links our sense of smell to our ability to learn emotionally.”
In the field of massage, aromatherapy is a useful piece in a therapist’s toolkit because of how environment can influence this emotional center of the body. If a woman is carrying emotional trauma in her gut or tension in her shoulders or exhaustion in her sympathetic nervous system, both physical touch (massage therapy) and strategic scents (aromatherapy) can be powerfully beneficial to a client’s healing journey. This is why people in fields such as massage therapy and essential oil distribution can form such complementary professional partnerships — they’re addressing different yet equally necessary client needs. This is why I enjoyed inviting Melanie over to my home for an essential oil presentation one evening.
“Wild orange is one of my favorite scents,” said Melanie. “It inspires abundance, fosters creativity, supports a positive mood, restores physical energy, and aids in transitions. Plus, it just smells downright amazing!”
Ways to Use Scent
While not everyone is affected by scents in the same way, if you’re someone who is strongly drawn to certain ones, here are some creative ways to incorporate them into your favorite spaces:
- Run essential oils through your hair when you get out of the shower, for a natural perfume.
- Leave an open bag of scented Epsom salts on your bed stand. Let either a fan or air from an open window circulate to help refresh your bedroom even more.
- Put lemon slices in your garbage disposal to keep your kitchen sink smelling fresh.
- Visit places outside the scope of your normal environment (pine trees in the forest, eucalyptus near the ocean, rose gardens, ethnic restaurants with spices you don’t normally use).
Whether it’s rose or clove or wild orange, I encourage you to find scents that awaken or calm you and see how they might positively impact your journey toward wholeness.
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Bailey Gillespie is a writing instructor at William Jessup University and a freelance academic editor. She lives near Sacramento, California and loves connecting with people over health, creativity, and faith. Recently, her writing has appeared on Real Hope Rising, The Rabbit Room, and The Deeply, Co. Read more at baileygillespie.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.