Matthew Stibbe of Bad Language shares great tips on How to learn things. He must know a thing or two about learning: he used the techniques to learn Dutch, prepare for a test in medieval history, and study for his commercial pilot’s license. Many thanks to Raymond Ward for letting me know about this site. Smell-coding intrigued me so much that I decided to visit The Sense of Smell Institute to investigate the olfactory function further.
It turns out that the smell-coding technique involves associative learning – a process by which you link one item, in this case the subject matter you are studying, to another item – a particular aroma. Later, when you need to recall the material you were studying, you help your memory by smelling the aroma associated with that material.
I've also found out that people form strong associations between odors and emotions that they experience when they are exposed to the odors. The odor can elicit the corresponding emotion, so be aware of the effect of aromas on your mood. This effect can be either positive or negative. For example, if you experienced frustration while learning how to swim in a swimming pool, you may have associated the smell of chlorine in the water with the emotion of frustration. Later, if you are exposed to chlorinated water, the smell can make you feel frustrated. On the other hand, if you have personally meaningful smells that make you happy, relaxed, focused, etc., you can use those smells to trigger the desired emotions.
Essential oils can also enhance performance. For instance, citrus smells promote mental awareness and concentration, so try using orange or lemon oil when you study. Peppermint improves the performance of clerical tasks by increasing attention. Lavender will calm your nerves, smell it when you need to make a presentation in front of a large group. The perfume of cacao activates the production of endorphins that make us happy, so we can pass on that chocolate bar (well…I am not sure about that, the more the merrier). Rose essence gives the sense of harmony and security. Check out the Alphabet of Smell to find out more about the meaning of various aromas.
Have you had any experience with aromatherapy? Does it help you to work, learn, relax? Share your comments!