What is olfactory wellness?
Olfactory wellness is learning about how your olfactory system works, and how nurturing and being aware of your sense of smell can contribute to a healthier body and mind. Our olfactory system serves as the only direct link between our environment and the central nervous system, so the aromas you surround yourself with matter. Not only does our sense of smell help us identify things, but it also serves as a conduit to memories, emotions and places – it is holistic and all-encompassing, involving your physical, mental and spiritual well being. To learn more about how your sense of smell works, visit our page on Olfactory Wellness.
Here are 5 lifestyle tips to enhance your olfactory wellness, including top health and wellness aspects that are affected by your sense of smell.
1 - Connect with your senses and nurture your sense of smell
Whether it’s smelling that first cup of coffee in the morning, peeling an orange, or the smell of freshly cut grass, your sense of smell allows you to be fully present and find joy and meaning in what you are doing. Being aware of aromas around you can help reinforce your sense of smell and your overall health all while building gray matter in your brain. You can train your sense of smell by beginning to smell things with intention. Keep a scent journal that can help you hone in and enhance your experiences. Smell training is not only healthy for cognition and memory but it can serve to help retrain your brain if you have lost your sense of smell, such as after a sinus or viral infection.
2 - Be mindful of what you consume and breathe
It is all too easy to forget that the air we breathe, including the chemicals and particles that are in our environment, enters our bodies and directly affects our overall health. What we consume - whether we are eating, drinking, or breathing it - has an impact on our cognitive functions and physical health. We need to pay attention and select products that can help keep our air healthy to breathe. We all deserve to know what we are consuming and breathing and make the best possible choices for ourselves. You deserve the peace of mind of a totally transparent ingredients list with names you are empowered to understand. By becoming acquainted with common ingredients you can help keep yourself safely away from breathing in endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates and parabens. Pesticides, heavy metals, solvents and plastics can contain chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that can block, interfere or mimic the body’s hormones leading to a variety of health issues from cancer, breathing issues, and neurological disease. Toxic chemicals can travel through our nasal passage and olfactory system to our brain, and have been linked to neurological diseases.
3 - Learn about mother nature’s benefits and enjoy!
Nature yields scientifically proven benefits. For example, the benefits of forest bathing are well documented. In Japan this practice is called ‘shinrin yoku’, which means taking in the forest’s atmosphere to experience the multitude of benefits it brings - from lowering blood pressure, to improving memory recall, to boosting immunity, and more. Forests are rich in phytoncides, which are aromatic molecules emitted by trees that protect them - and us - from illness. Research shows that phytoncides help increase our body’s Natural Killer cells, also called NK cells, that can kill cancer and virally infected cells, and help us fight off disease. Our MOJO Botanical Mist and MOJO Forest Bathing candle have been specifically designed to capture the benefits of forest bathing.
Nature also allows us to recalibrate ourselves. We are interconnected to nature, and experiencing it brings us closer to understanding ourselves, and closer to our natural equilibrium. Taking the time to go out in nature, even for only a short walk, can reset our mindset and help us find balance. Our natural world communicates through chemical signaling around us, from bacteria, to plants, to fish, to other animals, including us - it is no wonder that we may feel more equilibrium when we tap into the world around us.
4 - A healthy lifestyle and active body nourishes your sense of smell
As always, preventive medicine is best. Maintaining a nutritious diet, regular exercise, good stress management, staying well hydrated and having healthy relationships all contribute to a lifestyle of wellness.
It bears endless repetition to say that our mind and bodies benefit tremendously from healthy movement. Every single system in our body relies on healthy exercise - from our lymphatic system and immune system, to our musculoskeletal and digestive system, to our central and peripheral nervous system. Even beyond the benefits to our body’s systems, exercise releases endorphins to make us feel good and relieve stress, creates a space where we briefly get to disconnect from everyday challenges and responsibilities, allows us an outlet for self expression, and reinforces a healthy connection with our bodies. All beautiful things require maintenance, and our bodies operate at their best when we nourish them and engage in physical activities daily, even if just for twenty minutes a day.
Keep in mind that Vitamin B12 supports the central nervous system, and a low B12 can contribute to or signal problems with olfaction. Be aware of your Vitamin B12 levels and take supplements if recommended by your doctor.
5 - Be aware of your sense of smell and how it can play a role in preventative care
Your ability to smell serves to alert you of something gone awry. It can be a sign of such things as a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, an autoimmune disease or a viral infection. Part of preventative medicine is being attuned to your body and recognizing when your body needs help, or even signaling that your lifestyle may need changing.
Smelling an ocean breeze, relishing in the aroma of your favorite dish, finding comfort in the smell of your loved ones, or being transported to a special place with a whiff of a scent, all contribute to a sense of enjoyment in life! Unfortunately as we age, our sense of smell can decline with an estimated loss of 50% by the age of 80. Being proactive and paying attention to aromas around you and savoring your food (80% of taste is smell) can keep your sense of smell staying sharp and mitigate the loss. Proactively being attuned to your sense of smell means you are also exercising your sense of smell! Like a good workout, exercising your olfactory system can help us to keep enjoying the aromas that contribute to our fond memories, emotional, mental and physical wellbeing!
Our sense of smell is the most primordial of our senses, but also the least understood and most mysterious. We are in a period of discovery where we are learning more about our olfactory system, how it works and how it keeps us healthy. Stay tuned for more!