The benefits of scented candles
Our sense of smell is closely related to our memories and actions. When our noses pick up a scent, it is immediately sent to the brain for processing.
When we recognise a scent, it gets sent to two important parts of the brain. The olfactory bulb identifies what the smell is, and the thalamus tells us what to do. For example, when we smell smoke, we know that it may mean danger and to get out. Or, if you’re a coffee-lover, the simple smell of freshly ground beans may perk you up, affecting your productivity levels.
Aromatherapy candles can often be seen as a bit of a novelty – a gift to get someone when you don’t know what else to give them. But, here at Therapy Directory, we see them as tools we can use to elevate daily rituals and embrace a more mindful approach to self-care. And, although scented candles only produce subtle scents, they can still have a powerful and positive effect on our mind.
If you’re a fan of scented candles, take a look at our guide on the different ways you can use them to add a little luxury and intention to your day.
1. To signal your wind-down time
Switching off after a day at work can be difficult. One of our favourite ways to use candles is to light one when we’re home, ready to unwind. The simple act of lighting a candle and filling your home with a relaxing scent at this time signals to your brain that it’s time to relax.
2. To focus on during meditation
Sometimes having an object to focus on during meditation helps you focus in and clear your mind. Look at the flame for a few minutes as you begin and then close your eyes. You can then picture the flame in your mind’s eye and use this as an anchoring point during meditation.
Using an aromatherapy candle has the bonus of scent, so ensure you pick an aroma that matches the type of meditation you’re doing.
3. To re-energise
We can all fall victim to the afternoon slump, but this can get rather frustrating when it happens on a daily basis and you have work to do. Choose an orange or lemon-scented candle to tackle this decrease in energy. Keep it lit for about 30 minutes to let the scent take effect.
Or, to help you complete everything on your to-do list, try lighting a rosemary-scented candle. This aroma is thought to boost memory, relieve headaches and indigestion. The scent of rosemary is most effective when used in the morning.
4. To enhance your yoga practice
Yoga is a very mindful practice. It helps you get out of your head and into your body, and is the perfect way to prepare for meditation. Having an aromatherapy candle burning as you practise is a great way to enhance the mindfulness aspect. You’ll be able to focus on the scent and how your body feels in each pose.
5. To elevate self-care practices
Taking time for you is so important for your physical and mental health. Taking a bath or reading a good book are some of our favourite ways to embrace self-care and having a beautifully scented candle burning makes the experience feel extra special.
6. To inspire creativity when you work
If you work from home (or your office allows it) try lighting a candle in your workspace. Uplifting scents like citrus or mint can help you stay alert, focused and productive. Or, if you’re feeling uninspired and stuck for new ideas, peppermint or cinnamon-scented candles can stimulate your senses. Research has found that these aromas help boost alertness and memory levels.
Now and then, take a mindfulness break – maybe focus on the candle, how it looks, how it smells. This can help you slow down and allow creative ideas to surface.
7. To calm nerves
If you need to calm down before a presentation or interview, opt for a jasmine-scented candle. This aroma is known to calm nerves, improve confidence levels, boost optimism and improve hand-eye coordination.
Tips for using aromatherapy candles
- Where possible, allow candles to burn for an hour to let the wax melt evenly.
- Trim the wick regularly, aim to keep it around 0.5cm. If it’s too long it can create smoke when burnt.
- Where possible, extinguish candles using a candle snuffer or lid as this minimises smoke and the burning smell.
Scents can be effective in promoting relaxation, boosting energy levels and improving well-being. For more information on aromatherapy, visit our fact-sheet.
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