The Symbolism Behind Your Favorite Stress-Reducing Scents

Your essential oils have been valued for their medicinal properties since time immemorial.

Smell is a highly underrated sense.

We often speed through our days without honoring the power and specificity of things like smell, but carefully curated sensory enhancements can positively influence mental health, sleep, and general well-being. Oftentimes, these healing properties can be the result of scientific effects as well as associations rooted in mythology, medicine, and even capitalism.

Here's a look at the deeper meaning behind some of our most beloved scents.

1. Citrus

In art, citrus fruits tend to symbolize eternal life and the hope of resurrection, and a citrus scent can carry some of this optimism and energy into your daily life. Citrus fruits have a long and varied history, but through it all, their scent has been linked to inspiration and energy.

There may be a scientific basis to the reason why citrus scents can be immediate pick-me-ups: Vitamin C-packed fruits can trigger impulses in the brain that increase alertness and energy levels. Also, decades of seeing advertisements that linked citrus scents to cleanliness might trigger an unconscious feeling of happiness in our brain when we smell these acidic fruits.

Lemon, in particular, has been shown to leave a positive impression. Lemon is known to stimulate the nervous system and can spark tantalizing images of summertime escapes even in the heart of winter. Historically, the lemon has symbolized good fortune and optimism and is often associated with healing and light. Lemons were used in ancient Jewish rituals. In ancient Rome, they were status symbols for the elite, and some of those associations may have carried into our world today. For example, the lemon market may have played an integral role in kickstarting the mafia in Sicily.