No, you didn’t read that wrong, jet fuel actually can make some people feel relaxed, “since it’s an expected smell when you’re going on vacation and traveling by plane or even by boat,” Alan Hirsch, M.D., founder and neurological director of The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago said. Certain scents, he added, trigger a chemical reaction in the brain that aids relaxation. So, if you’re feeling stressed, you might want to consider just holding some (or all) of these things up to your nose for a hot minute.
1. Baby Powder
Baby powder makes you feel calm because it can induce the primal nostalgic feeling of childhood, where you felt safe and secure.
Vanilla not only makes people feel instantly at ease, but also is so soothing it can make you fall asleep faster. Baby bottle nipples are often infused with a vanilla scent, which, much like baby powder, can make the scent soothing into adulthood.
A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience revealed that lavender oil has been found to affect the brain in such a way that it increases drowsiness.
4. The Scent of a Loved One
Getting a whiff of your boyfriend or girlfriend — or even BFF — can trigger an *~iN LoVe~* feeling that our brains find soothing because of its familiarity. This response can also occur in certain places — like your bedroom at your parents’ house — that you consider calming.
5. CAKE! Or Any Baked Good
Baked goods can induce a state of relaxation because you’re smelling something that is familiar, safe, secure — and obviously delicious!
This aroma is said to reduce anxiety and induce relaxation, because the scent takes you back to your childhood (a less anxiety-ridden time of life) where picnics and get-togethers were more common.
Chamomile tea has a soothing herbaceous scent that many people find calming, but Dr. Hirsch believes this is just a placebo response in many people. “It’s almost like a phenomenon because people relate the scent to how they feel after drinking the tea,” he says. For many of us, herbal tea = relaxing.
8. Sunscreen or Suntan Lotion
Scents you associate with travel, like the smell of sunscreen, can often trigger a relaxed state, since they remind you of vacation, where you’re relaxed.
Lemongrass is often used in products to help relieve stress and anxiety because it has a light, earthy scent. However, Dr. Hirsch believes that it’s more so an intangible soothing feeling that people get when they smell it that induces relaxation, rather than a chemical relaxation trigger in the brain.
10. Jet Fuel
Yes, jet fuel or even boat fuel can create an expectation for relaxation (and thus, relaxation) because you know the jet or boat is taking you somewhere that’s probably more relaxing than your day-to-day life. This doesn’t mean you should sit around smelling jet fuel all day long, but if you are approaching the airport or marina and feeling a little zen, this could be why.