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Stress Reduction: Scents make Sense

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One of my favorite stress reduction techniques is to reduce clutter. Sometimes it’s my desk, other times the garage or a closet.

Last weekend I was clearing off my workbench and getting into some corners that I hadn’t been into in a very long time. I came upon a small jar of “NoseKote,” which was some goop that I used to protect my nose from the sun on a trip to Tahiti in 1974. That’s right… 1974. Thirty-six years ago!

I couldn’t resist, and I opened it to see how it had survived the ages. The smell wafted out and I was instantly back on the beach in Tahiti. I could almost smell the ocean, hear the waves, and I could feel in my soul the sensation of being there in that time and place. What a rush: it was startling.

It occurred to me that we must all have scents that will take us back on a journey, enabling us to truly visit our past. Maybe you are too young, but do you remember the smell of a freshly mimeographed test in school, and how we used to sniff the papers as they were handed out? (Uh-oh, I’m dating myself here…) If you could find that chemical today, its scent would take you right back to that classroom. Maybe school tests aren’t a place you want to go, but stay with me here.

The point is this: to reduce the stress of caregiving or dealing with an illness (or any other type of stress), find a scent that reminds you of better days and make a point of enjoying it. Just for those few moments your worries will melt away.

Here are some ideas: suntan lotion, insect repellent, the burning coals of a barbecue, roasted marshmallows, burning logs in a fireplace, even incense or a room freshener. Do you miss a loved one who is travelling or deployed? If it won’t make you sad or miss them more, try some of the lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or colognes that they wear. I lost my mom 11 years ago, but I can still bring her back with the scent of a bottle of her favorite body wash.

Did you take bubble baths when you were a child? Get some Mr. Bubble (it’s still available) and have another one tonight.

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