How smells evoke our memories

Memories can come flooding back when faced with a smell, can influence our moods and even affect our work performance. 

Everyone knows that scents evoke memories but I started thinking about why this is and why it makes me so happy to light one of my candles and breathe in the light & pretty fragrance of bluebells or the heady bouquet of red roses.

 

You’ll be amazed at when scientists believe it’s possible to start forming emotional connections to smell.

Receptors in our noses transmit impulses to the limbic system in our brain, the part of our brain that deals with emotions.  This explains why we react so strongly to smells as our reactions are rarely neutral, we generally like a smell or not. These smells often leave long lasting impressions which are strongly linked to our memories. When you first smell a new scent, you link it to an event, a person, a thing or even a moment.  When you encounter that smell again the link is already there.  Think about that smell of chlorine and I'm sure you'll think of the swimming pool.  Our sense of smell is actually 10,000 times more sensitive than our sense of taste so try holding your nose when you eat! You’ll be amazed at how bland it is.

Scientists even believe it is possible for a child to form emotional connections to smells whilst they are still in the womb. In fact most of our scent memories are formed as children which is why smells are often associated with our childhood. For me, the smell of cut grass always makes me think about playing in the garden over the school holidays. I'd love to know what smell reminds you of childhood ? Tweet me!

Scientists even believe it is possible for a child to form emotional connections to smells whilst they are still in the womb. In fact most of our scent memories are formed as children which is why smells are often associated with our childhood. For me, the smell of cut grass always makes me think about playing in the garden over the school holidays. I'd love to know what smell reminds you of childhood ? Tweet me!

What do you need your scent to be as the Autumn nights draw in? 

That is not to say that we ever stop forming memories connected to scents and smells or that stronger, more powerful memories cannot overtake old ones. I am originally from Yorkshire but the scent of bluebells has become forever linked to my memories of Bristol in my adult life because of the joy they give me every spring (see my previous blog, Bristol & the fairy thimbles, for some of my favourite bluebell walks). In fact, this week I lit a candle at home and was reminded that as autumn draws closer, the bluebell bulbs will lie dormant under the soil until next spring when we will once again see them swaying in the breeze to cheer us up after the darkness of winter. You can guarantee that until spring comes I will continue to light my Bristol Bluebell candles, take a peep here, to remind me that spring is not really that far away.

So as summer comes to an end don't let the changing of the seasons change your mood. Whether you are a proud local or want to evoke a happy memory for yourself or a loved one, simply light one of my beautifully scented candles, settle down and enjoy the moment.

 Don't worry though because as the nights start to draw in something warming, luxurious and indulgent is on its way to bring back those happy Winter memories. It’s a limited edition candle though so once it’s gone it’s gone. So why not sign up to our newsletter  to be first in the know. 

Happy memories everyone

Helen

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Helen Arthur