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How using scent to bring back vacay memories can be they key to stress-free days


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You go on vacation to chill out and de-stress from the pressures of everyday life, but too often those stresses are right where you left them when you get back from vacay.

How do you make that blissed out feeling last once you’re back at your desk? For Heather Lilleston, wanderlust-fueled traveler and co-founder of Yoga For Bad People retreats, it’s all about slowing down and preserving that vacation mindset—whether your trip was a Zen escape or an action-packed adventure.

But sometimes conjuring up memories isn’t easy—especially when your daydreams are interrupted by your cluttered calendar. That’s when Lilleston relies on a foolproof method for reflecting: her sense of smell. (Insider tip: Finding a signature fragrance—non-toxic, of course—is a surefire way to lock in those mems).

“Scent really does bring up memory,” she says. “You can easily get transported in your mind, but I think we don’t always know it’s a scent that does that.”

That take-me-back feeling is exactly why CLEAN Reserve created its newest fragrance, Acqua Neroli. Inspired by the citrus-scented breezes of the Amalfi Coast (which is one of Lilleston’s fave destinations), everything from the bottles to the fragrance itself is made from non-toxic, sustainable materials.

“Scent really does bring up memory…You can easily get transported in your mind.”

And not only does the fruity-fresh fragrance use the mood-boosting powers of bergamot, mandarin, and orange blossom to inspire feel-good vibes, you’ll also score good vibes from knowing those ingredients are sustainably sourced from small communities in southern Italy—so you’re supporting the farmers who harvest them and the environment.

Whether it’s tangy lemons in Italy or another aroma, tapping into those scent cues throughout your day can be the difference between feeling grounded and productive, and falling into a familiar stress cycle.

Keep reading for Lilleston’s top tips for preserving your vacation memories—plus how to use them as a wellness tool.


clean reserve acqua neroli

Be intentional with memory selection

If sweet jasmine flowers or fresh bergamot remind you of being wildly happy on the best trip of your life, try grabbing a bouquet or spritzing yourself with Acqua Neroli for a refreshing pick-me-up when you’re feeling stressed. The fragrance’s burst of citrus notes is basically an immediate energy boost that transports you to the Italian coast—even if you’re sitting in your office.

And Lilleston swears that a scent can bring you right back to that vacay moment. “You drop back to the emotional place you were in when you first smelled that scent,” Lilleston says. “When I smell the sea breeze with eucalyptus trees, it reminds me of home and feels comforting.”

Acqua Neroli evokes that same feel by contrasting energetic citruses and bright florals to create an unexpected warmth—that will instantly transport you back to your favorite sun-kissed memories.


clean reserve acqua neroli

Focus on experiences, not mementos

While you’re on the trip, focus on really experiencing it so you have lots of dreamy scenarios to work with when you get home. Lilleston does this by eschewing a pre-planned itinerary filled with “must-see” attractions for a more sensory experience, using her internal compass to guide her expeditions.

“The way I have learned to travel that works best for me is just showing up at a place and figuring it out from there,” the yogi says. “Because I have no agenda when I’m arriving, I’m able to wander, and in the wandering I have made lifelong friends. Those are the things that create memories for me.”

And while she passes on tchotchke-filled gift shops, she totally encourages taking lots of photos to look back on post-vacay. So feel free to Instagram away.


clean reserve acqua neroli

Use scent as a mindset-mastering tool

Training your mind to let go of the present moment and allowing it to momentarily transport you somewhere else can be useful for re-centering in the midst of a stressful situation.

“In the Yoga Sutras it says, ‘When you’re thinking disturbing thoughts, think of the opposite,'” Lilleston says. “In some ways that’s impossible, but in other ways we have a lot of tools to do that, and scent is one of them.”

Basically, think of scent as a way to level-up your meditation practice. Filling your day with memory-invoking smells (the way the sparkling freshness of Acqua Neroli evokes the glittering blues of the Mediterranean) can spark a moment of joy in your day-to-day hustle—and who couldn’t use a little more of that?

In partnership with CLEAN Reserve

Top photo: Stocksy/Lumina

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