Aromatherapy probably isn't the first tool you think of to help boost your productivity and grow your business, but maybe it should be. Smell is the strongest of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. Olfactory bulbs are part of the limbic system and directly connect to the areas of the brain that process emotion and learning."This is one of the reasons why so often something that we smell will trigger a memory or remind us of something or someone," says Beverley Hawkins, owner of the Vancouver-based West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy.
Essential oils not only help improve job performance but health, meaning employees are less likely to take sick time. "Essential oils have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and using them in an environment where there are a lot of people can help to keep germs at bay," says Hawkins. Inhaling essential oils activates the hypothalamus – the area of the brain which sends messages to other parts of the body. "A simple inhalation of an aroma can cause many changes in the body," says Hawkins, including activating the immune system, affecting blood pressure and stimulating digestion.
You can still get the benefits of aromatherapy in a shared workspace without offending others. Just place a drop or two of an essential oil on a cotton ball and take a whiff when you need an energy boost. If you have a private office, add 1-6 drops to an electric diffuser or create a mister by adding a few drops of essential oils to a spray bottle filled with distilled water.
Or, for a group benefit, put a bowl of hot water with a few drops of essential oils in the middle of the table at your next brainstorming session.
Here are six scents that Hawkins recommends for boosting your productivity, mood and more at work:
1. Lemon. This scent promotes concentration and has calming and clarifying properties that are helpful when you're feeling angry, anxious or run down. Lemon also has antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help fight sore throats and colds by boosting the body's immune system and improving circulation.
2. Lavender. This essential oil has calming properties that help control emotional stress. Lavender has a soothing effect on nerves and can relieve nervous tension and depression as well as treat headaches and migraines.
3. Jasmine. Like lavender, jasmine it is also used to calm nerves, but this oil is also commonly used as an anti-depressant because of its uplifting capabilities that produce a feeling of confidence, optimism and revitalized energy.
4. Rosemary. This is the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up. In addition to improving memory retention, rosemary has stimulating properties that fight physical exhaustion, headaches and mental fatigue. "It's excellent to use in the mornings when one needs a bit of help getting going," says Hawkins. Rosemary can also be used topically to relieve muscular aches and pains.
5. Cinnamon. The stimulating properties in cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration and focus.
6. Peppermint. Try peppermint when brainstorming. An energy booster, this scent invigorates the mind, promotes concentration and stimulates clear thinking.
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