Aromatherapy is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to increasing productivity and expanding your business, but it should be. The sense of smell is the most powerful of the five senses, and it has the most remarkable ability to influence brain activity. The limbic system includes olfactory bulbs, which directly connect to the parts of the brain that process emotion and learning. “This is one of the reasons why smelling something that brings up a memory or reminds us of someone or something,” says Beverley Hawkins, owner of the West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy in Vancouver.
Essential oils improve not only job performance but also employee health, resulting in fewer sick days. “Essential oils have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and using them in a crowded environment can help to keep germs at bay,” Hawkins says. The hypothalamus – the part of the brain that sends messages to other parts of the body – is activated by inhaling essential oils. According to Hawkins, “a simple inhalation of an aroma can cause many changes in the body,” such as activating the immune system, influencing blood pressure, and stimulating digestion.
In a shared workspace, you can still reap the benefits of aromatherapy without offending others. When you need an energy boost, place a drop or two of essential oil on a cotton ball and inhale deeply. If you have a private office, use 1-6 drops of essential oils in an electric diffuser or make a mister by mixing a few drops of essential oils with distilled water in a spray bottle.
Alternatively, at your next brainstorming session, place a bowl of hot water in the middle of the table with a few drops of essential oils for a group benefit.
Hawkins suggests the following six scents for boosting productivity, mood, and more at work:
1. The lemon: When you’re feeling angry, anxious, or run down, this scent promotes concentration and has calming and clarifying properties. Lemon also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and by boosting the immune system and improving circulation, it can help fight sore throats and colds.
2. Lavender: The calming properties of this essential oil aid in the management of emotional stress. Lavender has a calming effect on nerves and can be used to treat headaches and migraines and relieve nervous tension and depression.
3. Jasmine: Jasmine, like lavender, is used to calming nerves, but it’s also a popular anti-depressant due to its uplifting properties, which produce a sense of confidence, optimism, and renewed energy.
4. Rosemary: This is the ideal way to start your Monday morning. Rosemary has stimulating properties that help with physical exhaustion, headaches, and mental fatigue and improve memory retention. “It’s great to use in the mornings when you need a little extra help getting going,” Hawkins says. Rosemary can also be applied to the skin to help with muscle aches and pains.
5. Cinnamon: Cinnamon’s stimulating properties can reduce mental fatigue and the improvement of concentration and focus.
6. Peppermint: When brainstorming, try peppermint. This scent invigorates the mind, promotes concentration, and stimulates clear thinking, making it a great energy booster.