Have you ever noticed how just a hint of a certain scent can whizz you back in time in an instant? Whether it's a perfume a family member wore, the smell of the swimming baths or even the mysterious fragrance of that one cupboard in your grandparents' house, our noses can use them as time machines to the past. It's incredible how detailed these memories can be too, even dredging up scenes you had forgotten using the links to particular smells.
There's a science behind it, of course. Our olfactory nerve is located very close to the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotion and emotional memory. It's also near the hippocampus, which is involved with our memories too. The result is a connection so strong that studies have shown the ability to identify scents is actually harmed when these areas of the brain are damaged.
Research in the Netherlands also found that smells trigger more detailed, arousing and pleasant or unpleasant memories than sounds.
What's good about this is that while fragrances can catch you off-guard and give you a blast from the past, you can also use them as deliberate mood-boosters around the home and on your body, giving you a lift on what might be a gloomy day. Here are some examples you might like to employ.
This simple flower might well remind you of the scent sachets hanging in your grandmother's wardrobe and it should have a soothing effect on your mind on a more basic level, meaning an instant elevation of your wellbeing. Lavender can help you out if you struggle with sleeplessness too - check out our previous feature for more details on this.
Light a lavender candle to evoke those old memories, or wash yourself in a lavender soap to release the gentle scent all day long. They can also be placed in the bottom of your wardrobe for a hit when you open the doors.
Vanilla reminds us of the first beauty products we ever bought (and covered ourselves in, naturally), plus research from Flavors & Fragrances Inc found a whiff of it can create feelings of joy. What more would you want in a fragrance? Evoke your own youth and have a good giggle at your younger self with a vanilla-based body lotion and body wash.
We don't know about you, but roses smell to us like summer gardens and the first bunch of flowers a date ever bought us. It's a heady smell, yet gentle at the same time, making it ideal for summer evenings as the sun goes down. Some rose pot pourri will help to bring the outdoors in when autumn returns, or even just when you want to relax indoors.
A study in Thailand recently discovered that jasmine can help to eliminate negative, intrusive thoughts, so this wonderful summer flower and its memories of summer walks in the evening rain will boost your mood if you've been feeling blue lately. Don't worry if you haven't been able to grow it though - cheat with some of our room mist, where we've combined it with lovely lilac.
If you're a regular reader of these pages, you'll know we have already discussed the virtues of citrus fragrances when it comes to getting you going in the mornings - check out our archives if you missed it.
Lemon and orange scents are renowned for their ability to raise alertness levels with just a sniff, which is why we work with them extensively here at Heyland & Whittle - there's also the fact that they remind us of clean kitchens and the sun streaming through windows as the dishes were being washed ... keep a Citrus Grove soap or a Wild Lemongrass handwash in your kitchen and see if you can drift off like us!