Scents & Sensory Perception

I’ve always been sensitive to smells.

Bad (okay fair enough, it’s really just strong) smells cause migraines in me. So for example, almost every perfume on earth, when worn more than like 2 spritzes is enough to force a migraine on me. I have 2 perfumes that I own that are light enough to be wearable without my suffering. But most people wear too strong of stuff, and admittedly just put on too much perfume for me.

Then there’s smoke. Either cigarette or pot smoke. Either one, is enough with just one small whiff from a person walking past me is enough to knock me flat. It’s not pleasant, because I’m so sensitive that I had major problems in my last apartment, because the downstairs neighbors smoked both like a chimney, to the point where I had to lock up my windows all summer long, because the smell coming in would make life hell for me.

And one of the big ones in the community: sage. Oh gods. I’ve written before about the time I went to the “pagan” store near my old house, and nearly died. (here) I have absolutely no tolerance for it…so even were I inclined to use sage as some kind of cleanser, the smell would pretty much knock me out. I can’t tolerate it.

So in terms of smells, it’s obvious I don’t really do well with strong stuff.

In terms of real life, I’m not doing so well right now. We have people at my work who reek of pot and cigarette smoke (even though our company rules state smoking pot is not allowed)–so it permeates the work environment. I’m less than happy with having to smell that all day every day. And it causes undue stress on my mind, body and just general attitude towards life. It’s one of those things that I hate about working in an office, having to deal with people who want to pollute their lungs subjecting me to the aftermath.


But then there are those scents that I do better with. Citrus scents like lemon and orange are pleasing to me, and they’re good, neutral things for me to use. Can’t say why I think they are neutral–but they are neutral for me. I could consider using lemon as a cleanser (maybe this stems back to my childhood when my parents would clean all our hardwood furniture with the Old English wood stuff…which smelled like lemons), so perhaps that’s why I like it so much. And oranges are just great and clean, crisp smelling. I like the smell of lavender, when used as a hint–not all by itself. Lavender alone is too much.

I think that pleasing scents are things that help practice go easier. It’s easier to focus and do work when the atmosphere is kind to oneself. I like being comfortable while doing work, research or practice. So a good, pleasing scent in the room is helpful, on top of other things.

So I’ve been experimenting with scents to use to help me study and read. Lemon works, and so do warm, wintery scents–like a tiny bit of the smell from the Christmas wreaths my family makes every winter, in small moderation. I think I’ve found that things that smell like berries (such as raspberries, strawberries or blackberries) do me good, too. Or light scents like cucumber, mint and cucumber-melon (one of my absolute favorites).

The experimentation has led to be figure that for research and reading purposes, lighter scents do me better. Heavier, wintery scents are good for relaxing and for doing work itself. Berry scents are good for cooking and anything that involves physical preparation.

I’ve not figured out why these associate like this in my mind, but it seems to work, so I’m all for it. (plus it gives me multiple uses for my candles and my Scentsy)


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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

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