With so many Americans working and studying from home in 2021, one silver lining that we can all appreciate is the freedom to customize your personal working environment. Whether it’s space, colors, lighting, or fragrance, everyone has their own ideal setup to maximize focus and concentration.
You might be wondering: can the power of smell really help improve your focus and productivity? Which scents really work and which ones are just placebos?
THE SCIENCE BEHIND HOW SCENTS AFFECT OUR BRAINS
Although aromatherapy is sometimes considered to be a pseudoscience, the fact that different scents can affect our minds and our moods in different ways has been well-known and well-documented for a long time.
Our noses have millions of sensory neurons which pick up tiny traces of chemicals in the air, which is what makes up a scent on the molecular level. Those neurons then send signals to the olfactory bulb within our brain, which translates those signals into either pleasant or unpleasant sensations.
And certain pleasant sensations, according to many studies, can further elicit reactions in our brain that affect mood, memory, concentration, and emotion — all of which can influence how productive you can be.
In a 2016 study published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Scientia Pharmaceutica, researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the electrical activity in different parts of the brain in response to different types of aromas. Using this method, they were able to quantify the effects of olfactory stimulation (a.k.a. scents) on memory, thought, concentration, and cognition.
Based on what researchers found, here are some scientifically proven scents that can be infused into a workspace to help improve productivity:
So what do each of these scents do?
According to researchers in the study, the scent of lavender increases beta and theta waves in certain regions of the brain to create a calming, more stable mental state. It also decreases alpha waves in the parietal and posterior temporal regions which makes you feel comfortable but may also induce some drowsiness.
Lemon and sandalwood, similar to lavender, have a calming effect that improves mental stability and productivity, especially when performing tasks that require a lot of mental power.
Scents like jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, and peppermint decrease certain alpha and beta activities, which results in an awakening effect that improves productivity when doing monotonous work.
Meanwhile, rosemary decreases frontal alpha and beta waves which boosts alertness, while bergamot increases theta waves in the right prefrontal region to create a more stable and relaxed mental state.
OUR FAVORITE CANDLES FOR WORKING FROM HOME
This fresh and exotic fragrance, inspired by the vibrant legacy of Duke Ellington, combines top notes of bergamot and cinnamon with middle notes of rose and lavender to immerse you into a comfortable state of calmness and mental clarity."ELLINGTON" Luxury Candle
Imagine yourself nose deep in a good book on a soft, leather armchair inside of a quiet library. This warm, leathery fragrance draws you on a journey in time to the favorite study of the great poet, Langston Hughes, helping your brain concentrate on work through subtle notes of jasmine, sandalwood, and vanilla."LANGSTON" Luxury Candle
The newest addition to the Harlem Candle Company family of fragrances, this Billie Holiday tribute is our absolute favorite when it comes to working and studying. This candle features sparkling bergamot, along with notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood, to help you focus and maximize productivity."LADY DAY" Luxury Candle