How Scent Can Help Manage Anxiety

anxiety relief

We process scent in the same place in our brain as we do emotions and our emotional memories. In fact, we have about 300 olfactory receptor genes that can detect thousands of fragrances. As a result, what we smell has the ability to impact our mood instantly. 

“Scent is the only sense directly linked to the limbic system of the brain, where memory and emotions are also processed,” says Aaron Wisniewski of Inhale by OVR Technology. 

But also, what we smell has the ability to immediately trigger a physical downstream reaction: if scent sparks feelings of invigoration, your heart rate will increase and physical exertion may be boosted. 

What’s The Difference Between Aromatherapy and Olfaction-Based Intervention? 

Many of us are familiar with aromatherapy—it brings things like scented candles, essential oil diffusers, even incense, to mind. There’s also the everyday aromatherapy that comes with flowers, herbs, the forest, etc. 

Olfaction-based intervention, however, is best described as “the evidence-based interruption or augmentation of psychological or physiological processes through olfactory stimulation,” says Aaron Wisniewski of Inhale by OVR Technology. In other words, olfaction-based intervention is the 2.0 of aromatherapy. 

Can Olfaction-Based Intervention Help Manage Anxiety? 

Scent has been shown to help with anxiety—independent of the source that causes it—according to a study of studies published in September 2020 in the Journal of Affective Disorders. But also, smelling particular scents has been shown to help with specific conditions, too (aka olfaction-based intervention). 

For example, in patients with coronary heart disease who were also in the ICU, exposure to lavender improved both sleep quality and lowered anxiety, per a study in the journal Nursing In Critical Care. In another study of nurses, researchers found that a lavender-chamomile combination helped quell anxiety, and was even more effective when combined with music therapy. A slightly more recent study tried a lavender scent for patients undergoing bone marrow biopsy and found that a 15-minute exposure to lavender lessened anxiety compared to patients who instead received a control of a cotton ball with distilled water to smell. 

These are just a select few studies. There are others—olfaction-based intervention for anxiety with PVC placement, as well as pain and anxiety for other medical procedures. What’s the big-picture takeaway? Exposure to lavender and other scents can elicit mood-boosting, and specifically anti-anxiety, effects.

New call-to-action

Recent posts
The OVR Blog
calling card

Let's Connect!

Using scent to drive outcomes by linking memory and emotion to create more immersive Virtual Experiences.

  • Mental Health
  • Corporate Wellness Tools
  • Effective Training for High Risk Occupation
  • Technology driven Holistic approaches
  • Immersive VR Experiences

Recent Posts