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A recent study has shown a surprising issue on which the world can finally unite: the pleasantness of various smells. Scientists in Sweden and Oxford have found that vanilla is the most popular fragrance, regardless of cultural factors. This perhaps explains the popularity of vanilla scented candles, which are said to boost happiness and stimulate feelings of relaxation. If you’re looking to create an atmosphere in which your teen can thrive and focus on their homeschooling, you may benefit from considering the importance of scent too. Give it a try, and soon you will be enjoying the sweet smell of success. 🙂
The science behind scents
Studies have long championed the benefits of aromatherapy for reducing anxiety and blood pressure levels as well as improving quality of sleep. The reason this relationship works so well is largely due to the closeness of the connection between receiving smells and processing them in the parts of the brain responsible for emotions. Olfactory receptors are the first port of call, passing through to olfactory bulbs in the brain, which are linked to the areas concerned with learning and emotions. Scientists have then been able to demonstrate the ways in which aromatherapy can boost moods and wellbeing, helping the brain to form positive associations and regulating emotions.
Creating a calm, stress-free space
Research from the CDC shows that over a third of high school teens reported feelings of heightened stress, anxiety and depression the last couple of years (which doesn’t come as a surprise given the circumstances). If your teen is in a similar position, it’s natural to be prioritising aspects of their workspace which are conducive to relaxing, de-stressing and feeling calm. By including soothing scents such as lavender, pine or orange, through scented candles, essential oils or indoor plants, you can help them to build a positive association between those smells and a feeling of calmness and focus when they sit down to work.
Boosting energy and alertness
Of course, for some home schoolers, the challenge may be the opposite: the goal may in fact be to get more energized and motivated. While incentives, regular breaks and clear goals are all important for boosting motivation and productivity, it may also be beneficial to consider scents which can help to create alertness and energy. Peppermint has been shown to help improve athletic performance and scents such as lemon or coffee can also help to give a tired teen brain a bit of a lift.
The power of neutrals
If your teen happens to find stronger scents distracting – and this may be a concern for those with sensory issues – don’t forget you can still harness the power of more neutral scents. Keeping a plant in the room can help to reduce stress and improve focus without being too overpowering. Avoid more potent plants such as lavender, and look instead at gentler options such as jasmine or orchids, which provide a more subtle, soothing scent which delivers mental health benefits without being too noticeable.
While many homeschooling families carefully plan the physical layout of a workspace, taking into account good lighting and a lack of noise, the power of scent is rarely considered. Used thoughtfully it can help to reduce anxiety and boost alertness; so it is well worth including in your planning. It could make all the difference to happier, healthier homeschooling. Ahhh, the sweet smell of success!