Sniff away your stress: 5 calming essential oils

A heightened sense of smell could mean that you're just plain stressed. But you can use that sense of smell to sooth your anxiety, as well.

By Nina Elias for

Did someone reheat Indian food in the office microwave…two floors down?

Your amped-up smelling ability doesn’t mean you’re turning into a superhero—it could be stress.

According to a new study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, people with anxiety can experience a heightened sense of smell, and are able to sniff out things that calmer folks might miss.

It turns out that when we feel anxious, our body naturally goes into survival mode, heightening our ability to identify threats—and the nose often takes the lead. As anxiety levels rise, so does our ability to correctly sniff out a strong or unusual stench. In other words, if you think you smell smoke coming from the kitchen or are convinced Patches the poodle left an accident somewhere in the house, it could be a sign you’re more stressed than usual.

The upside? You can use this anxiety-heightened sniffing ability to tackle the annoying side effects of stress, such as indigestion and insomnia. How? With aromatherapy, the practice of using essential oils—concentrated from flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, and roots—to ease stress.

Here are five simple ways to sniff your way out of stressful situations with essential oils, from Hope Gillerman, aromatic healer and creator of H. Gillerman Organics:

1. For constant worrying
Essential oil:  Sandalwood
How to chill: Dab a few drops on your chest, and then practice a simple mindfulness exercise: Close your eyes, sit up straight, and rest your hands on your lap. Breathe slowly and count your inhales: Inhale one, inhale two, inhale three, inhale four, etc. When you lose count, start back at one and keep counting until you feel your tension ease.

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