Happiness Upgrade Podcast

S1 E5: Pump up positivity by sniffing a flower

April 11, 2022 Gabrielle Lichterman Season 1 Episode 5
Happiness Upgrade Podcast
S1 E5: Pump up positivity by sniffing a flower
Show Notes Transcript

Find out the unusual way aromatic flowers boost mood and dash stress in an instant. Plus, learn 7 easy tips to sneaking more joy-revving flower scents into your life. 

Check out the book that inspired this podcast, THE HAPPINESS UPGRADE: ONE SMALL STEP UP TO A HAPPIER LIFE (available at Amazon) at HappinessUpgradePress.com. 

Learn more about the Happiness Upgrade Podcast at HappinessUpgradePress.com.

Follow @HappinessUpgrade on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

When you want to lift your spirits and reduce stress quickly, scientists recommend finding a fragrant flower and taking a big sniff.

Hello and welcome to the Happiness Upgrade Podcast. I’m your host, Gabrielle Lichterman.

You may have heard the old adage “Stop and smell the roses”. This means that pausing to enjoy life’s little pleasures can make you happier. 

Well, turns out, you’ll give yourself a Happiness Upgrade when you literally stop and smell roses as well as any other fragrant flower, such as gardenias, honeysuckle, hyacinths, lavender, lilacs and jasmine. Whatever aroma you enjoy, breathing in a flower’s scent boosts your mood in seconds.

This is the conclusion of decades of studies, including those conducted by noted psychology researcher Jeannette Haviland-Jones, the director of the Human Emotions Lab at Rutgers University.

So, what is it about aromatic flowers that makes you happy when you smell them?

Credit goes to microscopic odor molecules that these plants release into the air. When you inhale the scent of fragrant blooms, what’s really happening is that you’re breathing in a hefty dose of these invisible compounds that give flowers their unique aromas, such as linalool and myrcene. 

Once inside your nose, these odor compounds get absorbed into nasal membranes. And from there, they travel to the brain where they have beneficial effects on areas that impact mood and stress.

For example, one study published on February 23, 2021 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that floral aromas spur an increase in the brain’s beta waves, which improve mental vigor, and alpha waves, which calm you. 

And in a 2020 study from Chiang Mai University in Thailand, researchers found that a flower’s aroma molecules reduced negative moods in volunteers, so they felt less anger and depression. What’s more, the study participants experienced a nearly 50% reduction in salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, indicating they felt less tense and more relaxed.

So, how can you incorporate this mood-boosting tip into your life this week? Here are 7 suggestions: 

1. Place a potted flowering scented plant where you spend a lot of your time, such as your desk or a nearby counter. To find out which plants with will thrive best in your room’s light, visit a local garden center and ask an expert.

2. Fill a vase with scented flowers and put it in an area where you can easily take sniffs of them throughout the day. I have a vase set up in the central hallway of my home since I’m constantly passing through it to get to the kitchen, take out my dog and just stretch my legs. It’s easy for me to just lean in an take a whiff as I walk by.

3. Stash a vase with fragrant blooms someplace surprising that you visit at least once a day, such as the bathroom or garage. I keep a bud vase in my bathroom and fill it with jasmine flowers when they bloom every spring and summer. 

4. Dab on an essential oil of your favorite flowery fragrance or add a few drops of essential oil to a cotton ball and sniff. Essential oils are typically made with flower extracts, making them a convenient way to get the mood-boosting benefit of flowers when you’re not actually near them.

5. Keep a bowl of naturally-scented floral potpourri by your bedside (far from curious pets and children, of course). Most fragrant potpourri is created from dried flowers that have been enhanced with floral essential oils. So, it’s another convenient way to enjoy a flower’s happiness-lifting scent. One bonus of keeping potpourri by your bedside is that it’s the first aroma you inhale when starting your day and the last aroma you inhale before falling asleep. So, you can end up starting and finishing your day with a smile.

6. Pause in stores that sell aromatic flowers, such as your local food market, to get a whiff. I remember when I lived in New York City, we had flower stalls all over. So, when walking around, I would pause in front of them and inhale the scent of roses, lilacs and other flowers that were in bloom.

7. Take a “flower walk” around your neighborhood or in a park and pause to inhale as many floral aromas as you can find. This is a great tip if you want to inhale the fragrance of fresh-growing flowers, but don’t have a yard to plant them or don’t have the time to garden. Chances are, you live near someone who has planted aromatic flowers that are close to a sidewalk or you live near a park where fragrant flowers bloom. Going on a flower-sniffing mission is a great reason to take a break. I know from personal experience. When I lived in Manhattan, every early spring, my husband, Douglas, and I would take a long walk to a certain block in Tribeca. We had found that amidst the concrete and bricks was one lone lilac bush that someone had planted and somehow it managed to bloom every year. It was quite the hike from our apartment, but the lilacs were such a refreshing, mood-boosting scent that it was well worth it. And I still vividly remember those walks to that lilac bush 25 years later! 

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Happiness Upgrade Podcast. I hope you use the mood-boosting tip I shared in this week’s episode to give yourself a Happiness Upgrade. 

To learn a simple method that makes this tip and any other self-care methods even more effective at boosting your mood, pick up the book The Happiness Upgrade: One Small Step Up to a Happier Life by me, your host, Gabrielle Lichterman, at Amazon.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to this podcast and share it with friends. There’s a new episode every Monday.

To learn more about the Happiness Upgrade Podcast, visit HappinessUpgrade.com. And follow me on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @happinessupgrade.

I hope your week is filled with happiness!