Feeling Overwhelmed? Stop and Smell the Roses

Studies Show Floral Scents Can Help Improve Memory And Productivity

Dec 02, 2010, 08:00 ET from Pine-Sol

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- For decades, concerned colleagues have advised friends to cope with holiday stress by taking some time to "stop and smell the roses."  Now, research shows that the old cliche might be on to something – that floral smell might actually increase productivity and mental performance.

The holidays mark the busiest season of the year and women – namely, moms – tend to shoulder much of the holiday hustle. According to a national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), more than half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays (1). With so many activities being juggled, it can be easy to forget even the simplest tasks on the to-do list.

One answer might rest in the roses. A host of studies have found intriguing connections between floral smells and memory and productivity.  

For example, a study conducted by the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that people exposed to a mixed floral aroma completed memory-testing portions of the famed Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological tests 17 percent faster than those not exposed to the aroma.  Meanwhile, in a 2007 study published in the journal Science, German researchers found that students exposed to the smell of roses while studying and then re-introduced to the scent during slow-wave sleep performed tests with 97 percent accuracy compared to 86 percent accuracy among students who were not exposed to the scents (2).

"Learning and memory retention can depend on multiple variables: attention span, interest in the subject at hand, task difficulty, state of mind and what's going on around you," said Dr. Alan Hirsch, executive director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.  "The RAS, or reticular activating system which is the area of the brain that regulates arousal and sleep-wake transitions, is particularly sensitive to odor. Floral odors, like rose, jasmine and lavender, have been shown to stimulate the RAS, enhancing the brain's learning mechanisms and positively impact memory."

Taken together, the research provides a pretty compelling incentive to break out the poinsettias this holiday season. But while fresh flowers are a tremendous addition to any home, they aren't the only way to reap the benefits.  According to Dr. Hirsch, here are some simple ways to incorporate floral aromas into a daily routine:

  • Utilize floral scented body washes and lotions
  • Drink a cup of green or black tea rich in aromatic scents
  • Incorporate scented cleaning products, like Pine-Sol Lavender, which has a calming floral aroma
  • Use a rose-scented room freshener at night
  • Light scented candles in high traffic areas always – ensuring to keep them out of reach of young children
  • Keep sachets of lavender in drawers
  • Include orange rind in glasses of water

About Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation

Located in Chicago, the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of smell and taste-related disorders. In addition, the staff's research extends to the effects of odors and flavors on human emotion, mood, behavior and disease states.

About Pine-Sol

Pine-Sol® Brand Cleaner is a subsidiary of The Clorox Company, headquartered in Oakland, Calif., The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with 8,300 employees and fiscal year 2010 revenues of $5.53 billion. Clorox markets some of consumers' most trusted and recognized brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Green Works ® naturally derived home care products, Pine-Sol ® cleaners, Poett ® home care products, Fresh Step ® cat litter, Kingsford ® charcoal, Hidden Valley ® and K C Masterpiece ® dressings and sauces, Brita ® water-filtration products, Glad ® bags and wraps and containers, and Burt's Bees ® natural personal care products. The company's products are manufactured in more than two dozen countries and sold in more than 100 countries. Clorox is committed to making a positive difference in the communities where its employees work and live. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded cash grants totaling more than $80 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges. In fiscal 2010 alone, the foundation awarded $3.5 million in cash grants, and Clorox made product donations valued at $8.8 million. For more information about Clorox, visit www.TheCloroxCompany.com.

(1) http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/apa/25993/

(2) Science 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1426 – 1429.