Improve Your Mood with a Simple Sniff

Believe it or not, working at Little Trees CAR-FRESHNER this summer has piqued my interest in fragrance! We do so much with fragrance at work (and I’ve smelled some of the best and the absolute WORST aka malodor) that I’ve decided to do a little research of my own on fragrance.

Obviously if you’re smelling something nasty, you’re going to feel nasty, too. Bad smells alert your brain to danger. Is your milk expired? Give it a quick sniff. You’ll know.

What I really want to focus on are the good smells out there and what they can really do to improve one’s mood – and why.

As babies, our olfactory senses are the first to develop and although we aren’t as gifted as dogs are in the smell department, we have a highly developed sense of smell (some more than others). Our body’s limbic system (see below) is directly connected to our olfactory bulbs – so what we smell plays a bigger role in our moods than we might think.

limbic

Recently businesses like hotels and clothing stores have begun to use scent as a marketing tactic. While clothing stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister, Inc. douse their product in their signature scent, they’re really training your brain to identify with the brand in a positive way. If you don’t like the scent, however, this tactic may have the opposite effect.

Studies have been done, like this one where participants were exposed to certain fragrances and asked to identify which mood they elicited. This method is called Mood Mapping and has been trademarked by Stephen Warrenburg at Oxford. While studies like this one have been done, lots of others (most likely less qualified than Mr. Warrenburg) have gathered evidence of specific natural fragrances being useful for a variety of stress-relieving outcomes.

Here’s what I found:

Ah, Vanilla. 

You know the smell. I’m sure I don’t have to do much explaining to convince you that the warm and sweet scent of vanilla makes you feel nurtured and content – and gives you a sense of nostalgia, too. P.S. Hot tip: the scent of vanilla wards off pesky flies.

Grapefruit

This sweetly sour citrus scent spikes energy and clears the mind giving you the extra boost you need to get through the day. Eat half a grapefruit a day, or even once a week, and you’ll reap the benefits of the combination of fiber, potassium, lycopene, Vitamin C, and cholene which all contribute to a healthy heart. It also helps regulate blood pressure.

Turmeric

The pungent and bitter root spice has an encouraging benefit: the release of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin signal depression, so turmeric plays an adverse role on the mental disorder.

Bergamot

Feeling irritable or angry? Take the edge off with a fragrance that includes bergamot. Bergamot scent is derived from the bergamot orange. It’s a fragrant yellow/green citrus fruit roughly the size of a Florida orange. Bergamot is supposed to be mood balancing.

Jasmine

Personally, I’m not fond of the scent, but it has some pretty great qualities. Jasmine is supposed to be deeply sedating to the body’s nervous system. It’s perfect to use after a long day – just try to stay away from stressors and take a few deep breaths after applying.

Lilly of the Valley

One of the cutest and most fragile flowering plants, Lily of the Valley, is known to help with sadness or grief by inducing a sense of security and comfort. Keep an eye out for those little white bells!

Rosemary

Rosemary improves memory retention and fights headaches, mental fatigue, and physical burnout. It’s also delicious and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that prevent brain aging and improves digestion.

 Coffee

The magical scent of coffee. Mmm. I feel more relaxed just thinking about my morning cup. A study was done by Han-Seouk Seo of Seoul National University in which rats were stressed out because they were being deprived of sleep, but once exposed to the fragrance of Colombian coffee beans, brain protein levels changed and had a calming/antioxidant effect on them.

Try these out. You never know, a better day might be a sniff away.

 

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How To Land an Internship

Full disclosure: What worked for me may not work for you. These are just some general tips.

  1. First of all, make a LinkedIn. Have a friend take a professional photo of you. Use correct grammar and punctuation because that really does matter, and don’t just one-click apply. If you want, use bullets under your work experience and be specific, but don’t write a novel. Then, make connections. Personally, I don’t really like to connect with recruiters unless they’re working for a specific company that I’m familiar with. They clog up my timeline. Don’t be afraid to connect with people you’ve worked with or for in the past. If you did a good job, they’ll gladly connect and might even write you a recommendation! Professors are great LinkedIn connections, too.
  2. Utilize LinkedIn when looking for a job. BUT – don’t just look for job openings. Look to network instead. For instance, in the search bar I can type in ‘St. Bonaventure University’. My connections obviously pop up, but so do other tabs. These tabs are categorized into locations, connections, and current companies. If you see that an alum from your school works at a company you can see yourself at – send them InMail. My school has the reputation for being extremely prideful and helpful when reached out to, so I’m lucky! Utilize alums. They want to see you succeed!
  3. Put your heart and soul into every cover letter you send out. Ultimately, the organization you send them to wants to see that there’s a good chance you’re going to stick around a while, so add why you’re applying. Do some research. Your personal and professional beliefs should mesh well with theirs, so finding something that you like about the job other than the salary should be easy. They need to know you’re putting stock in them as much as they’re putting stock in you.
  4. Go to networking events. This is one I’m terrible at. I end up going for the free food and talking to one person. It’s definitely a scary thing, but these people wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to talk. They’ve come to help with securing internships, general advice, or to speak on something in a specific field. Use them. Find common ground. Get their business card or LinkedIn. Bounce. Repeat.
  5. Prepare for your interview. Whether on the phone, through Skype, or in person, preparation is key. Write down common questions, do mock interviews, practice in the mirror or an empty room if you have to, but just be prepared. Research, research, research – know about the company! They want to know you’re invested, so they will ask. Have a prepared answer for, “Why do you want to work at … ?” Have questions for them prepared, too. Be professional and confident, yet relaxed and not boastful. Be yourself. Interviews are the hardest part of the process but you’ll get through them. Normally by the third or fourth interview, you’ve got your answers down for the basic stuff.
  6. Write a thank-you. If you want to go the extra mile, write an actual thank-you card with an actual pen. If you can’t in time, it’s acceptable to write an email. Keep it short, sweet, and memorable. Try to write something about the tips your interviewer gave you or a commonality you shared. Then, of course, thank them for their time.

Trust me when I say I know how nerve-wracking the interview process can be. I break out in hives on my chest and neck every time I’m nervous – so special attire (TURTLENECKS) is required. I also have the sweatiest hands on the face of the earth, so I try to stay as cool as possible and keep special deodorant on-hand for that first impression handshake. Most of the time it does not go well – but I keep a smile on my face and try to charm my way into my interviewer’s heart. Sometimes that works. But most of the time, being prepared works better. Applying for jobs is a job in itself. Just be smart about it and you’ll have one in no time. Just don’t give up. The more you apply, the better you’ll get at it!