The smell and sound of a crackling bonfire has the power to take me back to autumn nights long past. Crisp November evenings spent fumbling to get my fingers into gloves, painting my glowing name into the freezing air with a sparkler and mastering the art of eating hot dogs without dripping ketchup and onions all down myself! These days I am the one helping my own small people navigate tiny fingers into gloves, wiping their ketchup faces and rubbing cold limbs warm, as we watch lights dance and explode across the night sky.
In my recent autumn aroma workshops, we started each session with a chat centred on our memories of autumn and what scents we naturally link with the season. It was so interesting to see how much these two separate points of association are fused together in our minds. Memories of autumn play, kicking up piles of fallen leaves are inseparable from the earthy, arboreal smell they carry. Recollections of Guy Fawkes Night, warming up beside a crackling bonfire, are woven thick with acrid smoke. In fact so many of the autumnal pastimes that came up – pumpkin carving, walking through the woods, roasting chestnuts, apple picking, baking pies and crumbles, collecting conkers – all have scents attached to them; aromas which can trigger our brains to recall specific memories and emotions.
This close connection is explained by the way we process smells. Each scent we come into contact with is processed by the olfactory bulb and this has direct connections to the brain areas that are strongly linked to emotion and memory. The amazing capacity we have for aromas to trigger memory is incredibly powerful and can be used for our own benefit. If we look at ways to harness our natural, emotional attachments to scents, we can use them to create positive feelings of warmth and ambience in our own homes.
Learning more about this connection inspired me to create unique, natural scents that people will come to associate with each season as the year turns. Aromas which I hope they will look forward to returning to, year after year and will play a part in readying their home for the season ahead. It’s a relatively small thing to light a candle, or spray a scented room mist, but even simple, small touchstones such as these, can be powerful tools for encouraging a positive mind set.
What simple pleasures will you look forward to in November? If you dread the colder, darker seasons but can find some pockets of joy in knowing it will be time to get out your cosy jumpers, walk the first frost in your favourite boots, light your candles and fill your home with your favourite winter scents, then you may begin to see the months ahead of you in a different light, peppered with these positive, happy moments. Treat each of these small actions mindfully and you have the opportunity to connect positively with the season, in a real and tangible way.
So let’s look at some simple ways you can incorporate and use natural scents in your home. Do you have a certain aroma you love to smell in autumn? If not, try a few essential oils out at home and see how they make you feel. One small note of caution – we each have very unique preferences when it comes to our sense of smell, so it is always worth being considerate of everyone living in your home and their tastes as well! In terms of natural, safe options for scenting your home there are a number of methods you can choose from, I have listed my favourite ways below:
Natural room sprays – these are relatively simple to make at home with a selection of essential oils, alcohol and filtered water mixed and kept in a bottle with a spray nozzle. I will be writing a blog post very soon on my preferred method for making a room spray! If you do choose to purchase one ready-made, always check the ingredients and aim to find a brand that uses good quality essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances.
Natural candles – my method of choice! Look for brands that use a natural vegetable wax or beeswax. A soy candle holds and throws scent well, the wax heats slowly and will release the aroma at a slow pace, creating an ambient atmosphere in the room. Consider what substances they use to fragrance the wax, go for natural whenever possible. Candles made with pure essential oils can seem more expensive than synthetically fragranced brands, however they offer the benefits of a long lasting natural fragrance, as well as therapeutic effects.
Essential oil electric diffusers – there are some excellent quality diffusers around at the moment across a wide price range, I have one from Neal’s Yard which I use around the house most days. Diffusers not only effectively deliver scent but many have a beautiful ambient light effect too. You can then choose from a variety of essential oils daily, dependant on your mood.
Naturally scented reed diffusers – these have the advantage of being long lasting as the oil is absorbed slowly through natural reeds, which gradually release the aroma into the room. Again I would advise researching brands which use essential oils as a fragrance base for their diffusers.