Learn how to cope with stress by arming yourself with these stress-busting scents and soothing foods.
If you’re feeling stressed, take heart: what you eat and smell may help you de-stress. “The part of the brain that processes odors is very close to the [part that houses] emotions and memories,” explains Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. So when you sniff something you like, you tend to breathe more deeply, your blood pressure lowers and your heart rate slows-all of which relax you. Eating some foods may help relax you too. So arm yourself with these soothing scents and tasty foods to cope when you are stressed.
1. Sniff an Apple
If you like the smell of green apples, embracing their aroma may help alleviate headaches, according to preliminary research. In one small study, people with chronic migraines reported some pain relief after inhaling green-apple fragrance at the start of a headache.
2. Sip on Tea
Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind, says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine-an amino acid present in these tea varieties-may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.
3. Inhale Lavender
In one 2010 study, British researchers randomly assigned 340 dental patients to one of two groups. In the first, they diffused lavender oil with a ceramic candle warmer before the start of morning and afternoon clinics. With the second group the lavender oil was replaced with water. Their findings: the group exposed to the lavender scent reported significantly lower anxiety levels. And if it works during dental appointments, who’s to say it can’t work during other stressful times?
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