Our sense of smell is the most underutilized sense, yet one of the most powerful senses as far as supporting our emotions.
The Olfactory Bulb is on the lower part of your brain. It is the pathway that transmits smell information from your nose to your brain.
The Limbic System is the part of your brain where emotions are stored. It is sometimes referred to as "the emotional brain." The amygdala & hippocampus are 2 of the parts of the Limbic system.
The amygdala is where emotions are processed. Activation of this part of the brain triggers emotions faster than our consciousness realizes it.
The hippocampus is involved in long-term memory. It helps us form memories and create new ones.
The only direct passage has the only direct sensory passage to the limbic system is through the olfactory bulb.
So a scent can very quickly trigger a deep-seated emotion, and scents can be a very effective, quick way to support a positive mood.
This means we can use scents to not only support how we feel, but we can create new associations and set intentions around smells.
This is BIG news as far as supporting emotions goes. It gives us an accessible tool we can use daily to support our emotional well-being.
Action: Find something that smells good to you. I recommend essential oils, but you can use anything (an orange, coffee beans, a flower...). When you are meditating, in a state of stillness, or even feeling anxious–smell the thing that makes you feel the way you want to feel (calm, joyful, engaged, relaxed, or whatever), and consciously make a choice to feel that way.
As will anything this is something that requires us to create a practice–meaning do it daily, or regularly.
Give it a try!
For further reading:
Dr. Axe (What Is the Limbic System? (Plus How to Keep It Healthy & the Role of Essential Oils) https://draxe.com/limbic-system/
Science Direct, January 2011, "Olfactory system and emotion: Common substrates'" http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1879729610001237
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, April 15, 2009, "The importance of the olfactory sense in the human behavior and evolution" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018978/
How Stuff Works, SARAH DOWDEY, "How Smell Works" http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/perception/smell3.htm