My mother didn’t know that certain scents are scientifically proven to improve mood. She just loved them. Growing up, our house was always strewn with fresh-cut flowers and plants, and our garden ripe with heady herbs and spices — until she used them in the kitchen.
Those scents were integral to my fondest childhood experiences. And the powerful connection between scent and memory means smelling those fragrances now takes me back to that time and place.
Since my daughter was born, I’ve started using plants, flowers, and aromatherapy to help create a calm and soothing environment for us. It turns out, beyond simply fostering a general sense of well-being, aromatherapy can be effective in treating maladies from anxiety and depression to PTSD.
Most people don’t know exactly what smells have what effects. We just know we like them. To help you choose the best scents for your space, here’s an aromatherapy primer on four of my favorites (and all the ways you can use them).