Scent is a powerful psychological trigger. Our sense of smell ties directly to our limbic emotional center, which is why aromatherapy and essential oils can be beneficial to our health and well-being.
Essential oils are fashioned from the scents of nature — everything from pine trees to sandalwood to lavender. The concentrated, scented liquids are obtained from the distillation of these aromatic, antifungal, antibacterial plants. They have been used in cultures that date back to the Ancient Greeks, who were particularly taken with sage and its anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting properties.
Traditionally, one may associate essential oils with spas, but personal, portable diffusers have recently popped up in hippie-dippy homes everywhere, along with the little vials with which you can rub a dab of lavender on your wrist during times of duress. Craftsy folk on Etsy even offer essential oil necklaces. I found the MONQ diffusers — "therapeutic air" devices marketed to look like chic vaporizers — to be the most seamless path to scent therapy.
There are a total of seven flavors: Zen (orange, frankincense, and ylang-ylang), Vibrant (ginger, lemon, spearmint), Sleepy (lavender, lemongrass, valerian), Active (black pepper, orange, sage), Healthy (cinnamon, marjoram, turmeric), Happy (fennel, thyme, vanilla), and Sexy (jasmine, lime, patchouli).
I choose Zen, because as a working creative, it can be stressful to deal with deadlines. I received a little package in the mail at my office, popped off a white case to reveal a slim, purple "cigarette" adorned with a crystal at the other side, vaguely reminiscent of a Lisa Frank toy. The inside contained orange for lifting spirits, frankincense to balance the mind, and ylang-ylang to relax the body and reduce stress.
Before this shipment, I had always loved when my crunchy roommate blasted her diffusers in our apartment, filling it with relaxing scents. But this was a far more direct and optimized route to aromatherapy — I was literally breathing organic plants.