Scents That Improve Your Productivity

Experiencing a pleasant smell can change your day for the better. Even the smell of earth after it rains or fresh-cut grass can instantly put your mind at ease and relax you. Then there is that aroma that reminds you of your grandma’s pie and soothes a tough day. According to Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy –using essential oils extracted from different parts of a plant– has several benefits including improved moods, reduced stress levels and anxiety, and a better quality of life. These benefits can contribute to a better day at work and keep you more energetic for the tasks ahead. Some scents, however, will enable you to achieve a more direct result in your attempt to be more productive.  

1. Sage

A study conducted in July 2013 and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, revealed that people who smelled clary sage regularly, registered better-breathing rates and reduced blood pressure. They also were able to relax during stressful medical exams, an effect you probably need most when you have a tough presentation at work. Bonus perks for sage include improved memory and attention spans; the two things you need when your to-do list looks longer than your life.

2. Lavender

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lavender aids in easing headaches, exhaustion, and nervous disorders. A study conducted by the University, which involved filling pillows with lavender flowers, suggested that the scent promotes relaxation, improves the quality of sleep, and lifts moods. A better sleep at night and maximum relaxation during your resting periods will help you maximize productivity at work. Some people, however, experience irritation of the eyes and/or lungs when they inhale lavender essential oil directly. Check with a physician before you continue to use this, should this happen.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon stokes the area of your brain that controls alertness, something you definitely want to do to stay productive. For example, a study by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, an associate professor at the Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, concluded that cinnamon lowers frustration levels and increases alertness. According to this study, drivers who were exposed to cinnamon oil scents were less anxious, less fatigued and more alert.

4. Orange


Speaking to Prevent Magazine, Barbara Thomley, coordinator for the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic, reports that from their experience, the scent of a fresh fruit makes a major difference for patients. Based on Mayo Clinic’s experience in using aromatherapy, citrus aromas help to reduce stress and anxiety. They also help patients curb digestion problems and nausea, which can make it very difficult for you to work. Sniffing an orange before a stressful task can also help you stay calm under pressure, possibly because it slashes stress hormones. Bonus perks include an elevated mood, which would help especially if you have not-so-pleasant colleagues.

5. Peppermint

Scientific studies show that breathing peppermint relieves stress. A study published in Stress and Health journal in 2011 recorded a significant decrease in the participant’s cortisol – the stress hormone – levels ten minutes after exposure to peppermint essential oil. This invigorating scent also boosts the activity of the part of your brain that is responsible for you waking up on time or having to snooze the alarm a dozen times. In addition, aromatherapy experts hail peppermint for increasing cognitive performance and for boosting physical performance. You will also be glad to know that during meetings that call for intensive brainstorm, the scent promotes an energetic and creative atmosphere, which means if you sneak in a bottle into the boardroom before a meeting, you could finish sooner. A bonus perk is peppermint’s ability to reduce fatigue and curb chocolate cravings.

6. Frankincense

Best known for its spiritual and medicinal properties, aromatherapists regard Frankincense highly for its mind and spirit benefits. Its benefits include curbing anxiety, increasing mental awareness and restoring a sense of tranquility. When you need to make tough decisions and things are bound to get tense at work, try putting on a frankincense perfume or placing a bottle of this essential oil on your desk.

7. Jasmine

Jasmine is commonly used as an anti-depressant in traditional medicine. It is listed alongside sandalwood, eucalyptus, lemon, and agarwood in a study published in the International Research Journal of Pharmaceutical and Applied Sciences in 2012, as essential oils that trigger an antidepressant activity in the brain. The results are calmer nerves and revitalized energy levels, which can make your day more pleasant and fruitful. Jasmine also produces feelings of optimism and confidence, something you could use every day at work.

8. Lemon

While rubbing a little lemon balm in your hands or under your nose may sound too good a deal when you need to do better at work, there is scientific evidence to justify this tip. The UK’s Northumbria University conducted a study on cognitive performance following administration of lemon balm. The study concluded that lemon balm improves cognitive performance and mood, and can be helpful in managing cognitive disorders such as memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Next time you are preparing for a major meeting, try to boost your performance and attitude by rubbing this little gem inside your wrist and see what happens.

9. Rosemary

If Monday blues are standing in your way of a productive day, throw in a rosemary-scented tea bag in a hot mug of water and let your nose do the work. You could also try rubbing on some rosemary essential oil on a part of your body that you can smell easily. Rosemary has stimulating properties that can pick you up on a Monday morning, and is known to ease exhaustion, mental fatigue, and headaches. It is also perfect when you need some help getting up in the afternoon when you have drained most of your energy. Traditionally, herbal doctors have used rosemary to improve memory, a boost you may need when you have a lot of tasks to do.

10. Eucalyptus


Eucalyptus is best known for its ability to relieve respiratory problems such as sinus congestion. But this commonly-available scent can boost your mental power by increasing blood flow to your brain. Proper blood flow to your brain and other parts of the body keeps your cells well oxygenated, consequently, relieving fatigue and making your mind sharper. You can enjoy this fragrance by dabbing a few drops on your skin or inhaling it from a container. Better still, if your colleagues don’t mind, and anyone would hardly mind anything that means they finish work early, install a diffuser in the office and have everyone enjoy a mental power boost.

Human beings have used scents to improve health, productivity and overall well-being for thousands of years. And they are no longer old-fashioned practices. Today scents and spas are a billion dollar industry. But while essential oils scents can do much for your productivity at work, it is critical to note that, unless instructed by a qualified physician, they do not serve as substitutes for medical care. Hindrance to efficient working such as pain, depression, insomnia, and other challenges must be properly diagnosed and addressed by a qualified doctor. If emotional challenges such as conflict, family issues, and financial strain stand on your way of delivering at work, you need to find realistic and professional ways to address them to get back to a working shape. It is also important to be cautious should you suffer allergic reactions and skin irritations after using essential oils and fragrances.

Have you ever tried these scents to boost your mood? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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