What does calm smell like?: Tapping into the olfactory nerve

By | August 8, 2013 | Health & Wellness

What does calm smell like?: Tapping into the olfactory nerve

The following is an edited excerpt from Lisa Grace Byrne’s newly released book, Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life.

As moms, one of the things I believe we’re meant to do for our children is to help them develop and strengthen their internal locus of control, help them learn to replenish their stores and stay well and vital. But here’s the thing – for many adults, we weren’t taught how to replenish and remain calm, particularly when we’re in high stress situations. Stress causes us to become reactionary. So the key is to learn how to maintain an inner calm amidst the storm.

In my book, Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life, I outline the 7 Core Essentials of Well-Being, one of which is Calm Mind. When you’re coming from a place of high chronic stress – which, by definition, is exactly where you are if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted – bringing in the core essential practices of a Calm Mind will absolutely transform your life. These practices tap into what I call the master calm switch. We all have a master calm switch, which is like a back-door way to instantly shift our brains into a calm state. So instead of turning off the stress, our strategy is going to be to turn on the calm. I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Replenish that details the second “master calm switch”strategy, Tapping into the Olfactory Nerve.

Master calming strategy: Olfactory nerve

At the very top, inner part of your nose sits the olfactory nerve. This is the nerve that recognizes and processes your sense of smell. We’re able to register smells because molecules that have an aroma or scent are very small ring-like structures called aromatics. These very small molecules easily become airborne and we breathe them in allowing them to hit our olfactory nerves. In nature, the strong aromas of plants and flowers all contain these aromatic molecules. Essential oils are the highly concentrated extracts of distilled plants, flowers, trees or shrubs and they have extremely high amounts of these aromatic molecules. When you take a drop of essential oil on your palm and breathe in the scent, these aromatic molecules rapidly vaporize and can be inhaled easily through your nose to the olfactory nerve.

Here’s where the calming comes in. Your olfactory nerve is hard wired into your limbic brain. The limbic system, remember, is the emotional seat of your brain and controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. Your sense of smell is the only sense that goes directly into this limbic area of your brain and can immediately stimulate it to shift into calm. There are certain essential oils that are particularly effective in bringing in relaxation, calming, balancing, focus, and invigoration through this limbic connection.

Below is a beginner’s guide to using essential oils as part of your Calm Mind toolbox. Simply take a drop (remember they are highly concentrated) of pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils in your palm. Rub your hands together, cup them over your nose and take a few deep breaths (and cash in on the deep breathing trigger while you’re at it).

A beginner’s essential oils menu

Relaxing and Calming: Lavender, Roman Chamomile

Cleansing: Cinnamon, Lemon, Basil, Oregano, Clove, Eucalyptus

Invigorating: Peppermint, Sandalwood, Lemon, Orange

Balancing: Cinnamon, Basil, Parsley

Uplifting: Rose, Bergamot, Geranium

Focusing: Cedarwood, Frankincense



Lisa’s debut book is now available! Order your copy of Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life before August 25th and you’ll be eligible for f.r.e.e. enrollment in her bonus class, 7 Days to Calm.

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Lisa Byrne

Lisa Grace Byrne is the founder of WellGrounded Life, an exceptional worldwide community of vibrant, healthy and prosperous moms. Lisa is an author, speaker, teacher and trusted authority on vitality and well being for mothers. Dive into her expansive resources for moms and sign up for her free 19 page workbook, Break the Sugar Habit, which delivers concrete and practical tips to help manage sugar cravings, increase energy and uplift mood naturally.

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