Memorial Day has come and gone, and we finally kicked off the summer season at Pure Placid and in the Adirondacks, so of course it’s time to chat about the best calming scents for summer!
There’s truly something magical about early summer in the Adirondacks. Watching the mountains return to life after a long cold winter, the trees unraveling their leaves, the meadows blossoming with wildflowers, and the lakes regaining their summer sparkle. The farmers markets have started filling up, our neighbors are all out and about, and many of our summer friends have returned north to open their summer camps. There is so much to love about it.
It's one of the most joyful times of the year; however, for many people (especially in our area), summer also means a lot of hard work. At Pure Placid, summer’s our busiest time of year, and when we’re most likely to face burnout. As wonderful as longer days are, they also mean we’re putting more miles on our bodies and minds.
Summer Can Be Stressful: The Power of Scent for Self-care
Summer is the time of year when I’m least likely to prioritize self-care.
There are far too many times when fun days in the sun turn into great nights with friends that steal an hour or two of sleep from my routine. Times when weddings and special events can throw my schedule out of whack and put me behind on work. Times when sitting inside working while the sun is shining and the lakes are calling my name can frustrate my morale. Summer is lovely, but it's also ok to acknowledge that summer can be tiring and stressful.
Using scent to calm myself is a habit I adopted in childhood. When I was young, I loved scratching my grape scratch-and-sniff stickers when I was overwhelmed at school because they instantly made me feel happier. As an adult, I now understand why this was so soothing, but at the time, all I knew was that the scent reminded me of grape soda. Looking deeper now, I realize that to this day I associate the smell of grape soda with the time and place that made me the happiest at that age - our local skating arena, drinking sodas with my friends and watching whatever sport du jour was being served up on ice that day.
You see, scent, also known as olfaction, is one of our most primal senses and is deeply connected to our emotions and memories. That’s why a single smell can transport your mind back in time. It's why the scent of balsam can make you think of Christmas and why the smell of erasers can make you feel like you're back in grade school; because when we inhale aromatic molecules, they travel through the olfactory system and directly influence the limbic system of our brain - the part of our brain responsible for regulating emotions and stress responses.
Every scent molecule affects our limbic systems differently; sometimes, scents can alert us to danger - smells like burning plastic or propane; other times, they can soothe us and make us feel good - like the smell of fresh bread cooking in the oven or the smell of a loved one's cologne. That’s why adding joyful, calming, and relaxing scents to your day can boost your mood.
So, in an effort to help others discover the power of scent, I wanted to share some of my favorite calming summer scents and simple ways you can incorporate them into your day. I hope it encourages you to use scent to find peace in your chaos, and remember to find a "moment of zen" by stopping to smell the roses…literally.
Calming Summer Scents
Citrus Fruits: Lemon, orange, and grapefruit are famously known for their refreshing and uplifting powers. Their vibrant aromas promote feelings of freshness, energy, and uplifted spirits. Next time you feel dull and dreary, try finding something citrusy. Peel an orange and take in the scent; shower with a citrusy soap bar or wipe the counters with a citrus cleaner. it will instantly make you feel fresher and invigorated.
Basil: This summer, plant some basil and notice how the herbaceous scent relaxes and revitalizes you. Basil possesses natural adaptogenic properties, which can help the body and mind adapt to stress. It’s fresh and invigorating aroma promotes mental focus, clarity, and tranquility. It may sound funny, but try putting a basil plant on your desk at work; make a point of smelling it when you need a break and see how it affects your mindset.
Mint: The refreshing scent of mint awakens the senses and provides a cooling effect, making it a perfect aroma for hot summer days. Peppermint and spearmint fragrances offer a revitalizing sensation, helping to alleviate stress, boost focus, and enhance overall well-being. Try adding mint to a drink on a hot summer day. Breathe in the scent first and take note of the feelings it evokes
Pine: Offering a unique and refreshing aroma that embodies the essence of the great outdoors, the woody fragrance of pine has grounding and calming effects on the mind, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. Incorporating pine-scented products or diffusing pine essential oil can evoke a sense of serenity reminiscent of summer hikes through dense forests. Better yet, get outside and breathe in pine-scented fresh air