5 + 1 Coping with Anxiety & Stress: Part 5, Smell
anxiety | Breath | Breathing | coping strategies | cortisol | fight-or-flight | glimmers | heart rate | limbic system | Nervous system | stress | stress response

April 1, 2024

5 + 1 Coping with Anxiety & Stress: Part 5, Smell

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If you haven’t already read the 5 + 1 Coping with Anxiety & Stress: Introduction to Glimmers, I would recommend you check that post out first to have context.

And to read more about glimmers, you can find our post on visual glimmers here, our post on auditory glimmers here, and our post on taste glimmers here.

Olfactory sensations, in my humble opinion, is one of the least valued and under-appreciated senses.

On the flip side, many people usually have a list of things that are “smell” glimmers. For example, the smell of rain (which I personally hate), newborn babies (because babies release pheromones), chocolate chip cookies, Dreamstime Xxl 117037073coffee, old books. Smells tend to also have the most consistent ability to pull up memories. The cologne from Abercrombie and Fitch will make me immediately think of a guy I dated for a few months in high school, almost 25 years later. This is because the part of our brains that process olfactory information (smells) is right next to the part that processes memories. For good, or for bad.

I want you to start a list of things that bring you scent glimmers that you can have easy access to when you are stress or anxious. Maybe it is essential oil blends. Or small candles or travel sized lotions (I am looking at you cucumber melon from Bath and Body Works). Even perfume and cologne samples can me fun and give you brain a new sensation to focus on.

And maybe begin to consider smells in your everyday life, not simply for anxious moment. If you find a soap scent you like, I encourage you to buy it and every time you wash your hands, take 20 seconds to simply enjoy the sensations of warm water and the scent that brings you joy.

And as we did with sounds, the lack of smells or what I call neutral smells can be glimmers.

As someone who experiences sensory processing issues, I know I used to never considered the impact smells had on my ability to regulate my nervous system. Though this is a post on glimmers, if you are neurodivergent and notice you struggle with feeling overwhelmed or irritable by noises, I encourage you to consider if smells are also in the picture. I know if there is a smell I find unpleasant, I struggle really hard to focus or pay attention because my brain wants to problem solve the smell. One of the things I had to do was begin using fragrance-free laundry soap because the scents they put in those soaps tend to overwhelm me, particularly when they are on bedding because they are designed to linger.

Dreamstime Xxl 140671829Consider if there are things in your everyday life that are not pleasant to your nose. And are there alternatives, whether that be fragrance-free or “natural” fragrances that don’t linger as long.

What are some of your favorite smells? Try our interactive meditation on smells with 10 minutes of Self Care!

Any information provided about medical matters is purely educational and the author is not a medical professional and is not recommending any specific intervention for any specific person or giving medical advice. Please consult your own medical provider for information about your own situation

This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not create any type of therapeutic relationship. For specific assistance, please consult your own medical and/or mental health provider.

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