Would you ever imagine that the key to reducing your stress level could be right in front of your nose? Although often unnoticed, the nose is a powerful part of our body. Have you ever tried imagining a life without smells? Think of the dimension smell adds to your life. Whether it’s your grandmother’s cookies straight from the oven or the scent of your first puppy, smells attach themselves in our memories almost as much if not more than any other part of our experiences.
When you consider this, it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that smell can be an important factor in stress reduction. One of the most proven smells to aid in the reduction of stress is lavender. Lavender has been used for centuries to battle insomnia and anxiety. Over time, studies have proved that the benefits aren’t just folklore. In various studies, lavender has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. One particularly interesting study was performed in 2008. Very young infants were given a bath with or without lavender-scented bath oil. The mothers in the lavender bath oil group were more relaxed, smiled and touched their infants more during the bath. Their infants looked at them a greater percentage of the bath time and cried less and spent more time in deep sleep after bath. The cortisol levels of this group of mothers and infants significantly decreased, confirming the behavioral data showing increased relaxation of the mothers and their infants.
So how do you get started? Try dropping a few droplets of lavender oil on a wet cloth and placing it on your forehead. Close your eyes and relax for 15-20 minutes, breathing deeply. Another easy way is to light a lavender-scented candle or add a few drops of lavender to a warm bath. You can even use lavender oil as massage oil. Whatever you try, remember….breathe deeply!
 Field T, Field T, Cullen C, Largie S, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun;84(6):399-401. Epub 2007 Nov 28. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18053656 on January 27, 2014.