The Symbolism Behind Your Favorite Stress-Reducing Scents

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.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint—with its crackling, cooling taste and its sharp but cleansing scent—is often associated with clarity, focus, and purpose.

In traditional Chinese medicine, peppermint was used to expel fevers and to rejuvenate a flagging qi, or internal life energy. Mint also makes several appearances in Greek mythology. Minthe was a beautiful river nymph, and Hades, the god of the dead, was about to have an affair with her when Persephone caught them. Hades turned Minthe into a plant and gave her a sweet smell to preserve the memory of how lovely she had been.

In another myth, mint is used to clean a house that eventually provides refuge to two wandering strangers, one of whom turns out to be Zeus, and after this, mint became a symbol of hospitality among the gods. In the Victorian language of plants, mint was symbolic of virtue, and in some herbal magics, it is used as a vampire repellent. Today, some scientists suggest keeping peppermint essential oils beside your desk for when you have to take an exam, as it has been proven to increase focus and mental acuity.

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