Ep 13: Create Your Own Smell O’ Vision to Manage Stress

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Our sense of smell doesn’t get a fair shake when it comes to managing stress. Smells are all around us and can trigger some very interesting responses.

Here’s how to use smells to purposefully manage your stress.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 13: Create your own smell o'vision to reduce stress

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Have you ever gotten a whiff of some wonderful food cooking? Did it take you back to that relaxing vacation where it seemed like all you did was eat one delicious meal after another?

Or maybe the scent of a beautiful flower reminds you of how your grandmother loved flowers, and it makes you smile.

It’s no mystery that our smells and memories are connected.

But our sense of smell and our emotions are also linked together. They’re even found in the same part of the brain — in the limbic system.

The limbic system is responsible for all of our feeling and reacting and the responses that come with it.

This means that you can use smell to manage how you feel in a very intentional way.

There are a thousand and one scents today that are known for their ability to calm you down, energize you or help you sleep.

Lavender, lemon, you name it. 🍋

But using smell to reduce stress doesn’t just have to mean plugging in an essential oil diffuser and filling your space with fragrance. Although that does work pretty well.

You can use scents that you enjoy along with a pleasant visual to deliberately create a relaxing response.

One of my go-to ways to relax and stay calm during the work day has always been the smell of suntan lotion. You know the kind of lotion I’m talking about.

It’s that old-school coconut smell that I think only Coppertone could produce in the 70s and 80s.

I think we even referred to it as “that Coppertone smell.”

That sweet scent immediately takes me back to my early days as a teenager in Florida, enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. 🥥🏖 🌴

The focus in those days was getting a deep, beautiful tan and my friends and I slathered on Coppertone like butter on sweet corn.

Actually, I think a few of my friends DID use butter as a suntan lotion. (Yikes, we sure have come a long way in skin care haven’t we?)

Those were wonderful relaxing times when everything was in front of us and we had very few responsibilities.

I have a specific picture in my mind of that time.

It makes me happy to see myself relaxed, with sand between my toes and enjoying the majesty of the water on a bright sunny day.

Even right now I can feel the warmth of the tropical Florida sun on my skin.

Okay you’re going to think I’m a little weird here. 😜

In my corporate days I always kept a small bottle of suntan lotion in my desk at work.

When things got really crazy, I would pull out that bottle and place just the tiniest amount right above my top lip, just under my nose.

There it was, that Coppertone smell!

If I closed my eyes for a second, I could see myself on the beach enjoying my friends and relaxing without a care in the world.

I would breathe and try to feel that warm sun.

I had paired that specific memory with that Coppertone smell, and I used it to create a little oceanfront peace and calm for myself right there at my desk.

I didn’t even need one of those desktop beach zen gardens.

You don’t necessarily need a specific visual or memory to make this work for you.

And you certainly don’t need Coppertone.

In those moments when you feel stressed or anxious:

  • Pick a scent that you love.
  • Enjoy it while you do some deep breathing or meditation.
  • As you bring your body out of that fight or flight mode that we all experience when we’re anxious, your brain will start to form new connections.
  • It will now associate your favorite scent with the physiological calming sensation from your deep breathing and meditation.

The more you do it the stronger those connections get.

It’s kind of like you make your own smell o’vision memory that you can call up anytime you need it.

Over time, just the smell itself may calm you.

Use your powerful sense of smell to intentionally bring those calm and peaceful moments into your day.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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