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5 naturally soothing scents

© iStockphoto.com / Konstantin © iStockphoto.com / Konstantin
By Beatrice Strnad
From Ideas That Spark 

Headaches, anxiety, stress -- these are all things that can make us want to hide under the covers. While we can’t always crawl into bed at any given hour in the day, we can surround ourselves with calming aromas at anytime. Here are five scents that have been proven to naturally soothe.


Not only does it smell luxurious, research shows that lavender produces a calming and sedative effect when inhaled. The purple flower has long been used as a sleep aid and stress reliever, as well as to fight agitation and depression.

Day: Tie up bushels of dried lavender with pretty string and place them around the house for decoration. For lavender on-the-go, put a sachet filled with lavender in your handbag or in your drawers and the relaxing scent will accompany you on your day.

Smelling lavender before bed has been proven to help you catch those zzz’s. Sprits your sheets and pillow with lavender scents to help you reach a calm, sleep-ready state.


Soothe your nerves and relax by sniffing coconut. A study at Columbia University found that smelling coconut helps blood pressure recover after tackling a difficult task. But unlike lavender, coconut helps keep us alert while it calms.

Try a coconut hand lotion or incorporate coconut oil in your hair care for a stress-busting, alertness that stays with you throughout your day. Thirsty? Sip some coconut water -- you’ll smell the sweet fruit as you drink.

Pour two cups of coconut milk into your bath as a treat for your mind and your skin! This tropical treatment is an easy -- and inexpensive -- way to relax while moisturizing your skin. Come bedtime, you’ll fall asleep with softer skin and smelling like a tropical paradise.


Headache? Sniff an apple. In one study, people who had chronic headaches reported pain relief after smelling a green apple.

While you clean the house or are doing dishes, have an apple scented candle lit nearby to help keep those tasks painless. Not to mention, apples are healthy snacks, so keep one on hand for when you get hungry -- or try sniffing it when you have a headache.

Baking an apple -- pie or otherwise -- is a treat for two senses. Too tired to bake? De-core an apple and put it upright in a bowl. Fill with a pinch of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Microwave with a little water in the bowl or sealed air-tight with plastic wrap for 3-5 minutes (or until tender) for an easy “baked” apple. And why not go a-la-mode with vanilla ice cream?


Not only is it the most popular ice cream flavor, the orchid bean is universally described as being “pleasant” in general. The smell also has been found to reduce anxiety during stressful cancer treatments and reduce the startle-reflex in animals as well as humans.

Soothe yourself (and smell pleasant) all day with a vanilla body spray, or by raiding your baking supplies. No joke! Put a little (it goes a long way) vanilla extract on a cotton ball and dab where you would perfume. Or microwave a tablespoon of extract with a tablespoon of petroleum jelly, a tablespoon honey and two tablespoons of beeswax for a homemade vanilla lip balm.

Vanilla, like lavender, has been shown to aid sleep. Try sipping on a cup of vanilla tea (simply boil a bean in water). Or set the sleepy mood by spraying your sheets or lighting a candle with vanilla scents.


The smell of jasmine has been compared to valium in terms of calming the nerves. In one study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, jasmine was shown to affect the brain when inhaled in similar ways as sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants, but without the side effects. Jasmine is used to combat stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Jasmine blooms in January and February, the months when people tend to experience symptoms of depression and fatigue. Consider keeping a plant by a window in a room you visit often.

Jasmine flowers make a delicious tea and can be sprinkled in a bath for a light, exotic scent. Jasmine oil is also reported to improve mood when applied to the skin. Just make sure you use a carrier oil, such as almond or avocado, when applying to avoid any irritation.And for ultimate soothing, try these two soothing scents combos: Tart and sweet apple goes well with floral and rich lavender. Sweet jasmine and warm vanilla complement each other nicely.

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