My oma was a prodigious user of Comet. A whiff of that cleanser and I am instantly transported back to Oma's bathroom - the one with the white-enameled tub that seemed, at least to my toddler-self, as big as a swimming pool. That's a great memory for me and one I use with my techniques to get me into the Stress-Free Zone.
Your sense of smell can remind you of events that are less than pleasant. For example, the smell of burnt rubber may cause you to recall a car accident. Or the smell of ashtrays may remind you that you didn't feel safe when those raucous parties took place in your home. These smells trigger the release of stress hormones so quickly, that unless you are aware of what has happened, you may find yourself suddenly feeling ill-at-ease, sad or fearful.
Other smells may instantly cause you to smile or feel a sense of comfort - they're the ones that generate happy feelings. Someone walks by and their cologne reminds you of your first kiss. The pleasant memory and feelings of sitting around a camp-fire on a warm summer's evening may be gently blown your way when you are out on an evening stroll and you smell your neighbour's wood-burning fireplace.
The sense of smell can elicit emotions that signal your brain to inundate your body with chemicals. Positive emotions cause a chemical cascade that leave you feeling good. Negative emotions produce chemical changes that prepare the body for flight or fight, otherwise known as the stress response. This is biological programming from cave-man days which is still activated in our 21st century bodies in response to the perception of danger, regardless of whether it is seen, smelled, heard or felt.
When you are aware of this process, you are then in a position to change your perceptions which gives you greater control to activate feel-good techniques. As you nose around in your past, you can train yourself to make scents of memories that create a feeling of well-being and less stress.
What "scentual" memories does your nose know?
Photo courtesy of Sophie