4 Ways to Engage Your Sense of Smell with Self-Care!

Did you know that smells are often

associated with memory?

YLEO smell

My former colleague, Heather, was recently walking through the grocery store and was absolutely certain that she smelled her Grandmother (who passed away in 2009).

Even though she KNEW it was not her Grandmother in the store, Heather still did a few peeks down the aisles just to be certain. And after a few “walk throughs” around the store, she finally determined that someone in one of the aisles must have been wearing the same perfume her grandmother had worn every day of her life.

So what does this mean?

Think back to a time that you remembered something based on smell alone. Whenever I smell vanilla, I am brought back to the times I spent baking with my grandmother growing up. When I smell a barbecue, I think of roasting (or burning) marshmallows at camp. And when I smell cinnamon, I don’t necessarily associate a memory, but feelings of calm and peace.

Just as smells can be associated with positive memories, they can also be associated with negative memories. Situations that evoke feelings of pain or fear can be stored in our bodies. We may not have the words to describe what we felt or experienced, but a smell, taste, sound, or touch can bring up very strong reactions.

In my mission to help others incorporate the 5 senses into self-care, I was able to connect with Heather and learn 4 ways that she incorporates the sense of smell into her self-care!

1. Enjoy nature

Heather explained, “I like to hike or do nature walks. There is a certain smell to the outdoors- pine, sunshine, rain, leaves, cut grass, lakes/ponds…they all have their own distinct smell. I love taking the dog and kids for nature walks or “bug hunts” during the fall! I love being outdoors…the smells remind me of some of my favorite places…Colorado, Yellowstone, West Virginia. I love it!”

2. Get a Massage

One of my favorite self-care techniques is getting a massage. I love being in heat, so I always add hot stones to the menu. Heather loves massages with essential oils, which can be very beneficial due to Vita Flex Points all over the body (specifically on the hands and feet).

3. Savor smells

Bake, cook, or BBQ. Burn candles. Buy (or make your own) face or body wash with your favorite scent. Color with scented markers. The list is endless!

(There are some affiliate links included.  Should you use them to make a purchase, they won’t change your price, but will share some commission with me).

4. Use essential oils

Essential Oils (EO) are the most condensed version of a plant (usually made through distillation) that still contain the core properties of the plant. EOs contain the same vibration as the living plant; therefore, they can be used for a variety of purposes from cleaning your home to supporting your digestive system to helping you establish healthy sleeping habits. Learn more here!

Essential Oils are used in three different ways:

[Warning: read the labels before using any oils and seek medical advice when necessary].

  • Aromatically: You can aromatically use essential oils by diffusing, inhaling directly from the bottle, indirect inhalation (adding a drop or two to a piece of fabric or a diffuser bracelet or necklace), in a vapor/steam tent (a few drops on a washcloth while you take a shower), or as a natural room deodorizer spray.
  • Topically: EOs are categorized as NEAT, SENSITIVE, and HOT.
    • NEAT means that an oil is safe to apply directly to the skin without a carrier oil (or any plant-based, v6 oil).
    • SENSITIVE means that while SOME people can use an oil topically, some others may experience sensitivity. If this happens, immediately dilute the area with carrier oil.
    • HOT oils should always be diluted. These oils will cause irritation to the skin if applied directly to the skin. They almost always should be diluted at a 1:3 ratio, possibly higher depending on a person’s age or sensitivity.
  • Internal use: Young Living Essential Oils can be ingested with food/water or in a capsule with a carrier oil. The guidelines are much more strict than aromatic or topical use. Contact Heather to learn more!

Comment below with other ways that YOU incorporate the sense of smell into your daily self-care!

Interested in learning how Heather incorporates Essential Oils into her classroom and with her family? Join her Facebook group, You Put The Lime in the Coconut Oil or send her an email!


Self-Care Series: Engaging Your Sense of SIGHT

Engaging Your Sense of SIGHT with Self-Care


The other day, I woke up in a particularly bad mood.  It wasn’t due to one specific thing, but from the moment I opened my eyes, I felt “off.”  As the day went on, it was almost comical how everything seemed to go wrong.  I locked my keys inside my house, almost ran out of gas, and came home to a mess left by my pup!

We have all had those days.  Whether it was due to a bad day at work, miscommunication with a friend, or simply waking up on the wrong side of the bed, none of us are immune to those lousy days!

What got me through it was- first of all- humor.  I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of my day.  I also spent time indulging in some of my favorite things as a method of self-care, including a hot shower, chocolate covered pretzels, and taking my (naughty) pup on a nice long walk.

On the walk, I spent extra time paying attention to my surroundings.  Not only did it take the focus off the events of the day, but it truly made me feel better.

My challenge for you is, especially on those “my day was so bad that someone must be playing a joke on me!” days, is:

Find 1 beautiful thing to focus on. Easy enough, right?

Here are 15 ideas to engage your sense of SIGHT in daily self-care:

(There are some affiliate links below.  Should you use them to make a purchase, they won’t change your price, but will share some commission with me).
  1.  Browse a Magazine: When is the last time you looked through an art or yoga magazine or a National Geographic?  They are full of beautiful pictures- many of nature!
  2. Wear Glasses or Sunglasses: If you normally wear contacts, try wearing your glasses for a day (or vice versa).  If you don’t wear either, indulge in a pair of sunglasses.  Not only can it change your appearance, but it can literally change your perspective!
  3. Look At The Clouds: Remember doing this as a kid?  You watch the clouds and share what images you see.  Grab a blanket and lay on your lawn or at a park.  What do you see?
  4. People Watch: I truly mean this in a non-creepy way!  The next time you’re sitting on a park bench, notice the people who walk by.  There are so many things you can learn just by watching their body language- are their arms crossed?  Are they facing towards or away from each other?  How much space is in between them?  Not only can this be fun, but it is also a great way to temporarily distract yourself from everything going on in your world.
  5. Mandala/ Coloring Book: One of my FAVORITE ways to relax is to color a mandala (otherwise known as a coloring book)!  Don’t forget the markers and colored pencils!
  6. Take Pictures: I know we all have our iPhones and Androids to snap a quick picture, but there’s something about the act of using an actual camera to capture memories.  I use this camera (especially when I travel) to take beautiful pictures!  I also LOVE my polaroid instant digital camera!
  7. Visit a Museum, etc.: When you have some free time, check out your local museum, aquarium, zoo, botanical garden, or park!
  8. Watch Cute Animals: This could mean spending time with your own pet, watching cute animal videos, or volunteering at a shelter.  As a goldendoodle parent (aka “doodle mom”), my absolute favorite thing to do is scroll through pictures/ videos of goofy doodles doing doodly things!
  9. Funny Videos: When you’re in a bad mood, all you need to do is type “Funny Videos” into a google or YouTube search and I guarantee it will change your mood!  One of my favorites is the “Charlie Bit Me” video!
  10. Watch Satisfying Things: As a perfectionist, I cannot describe the joy I feel when things fit perfectly together, or I can watch an artist, hairstylist, or designer make something that seems to defy reality!  Just type “satisfying things” into YouTube and I guarantee the videos will leave you mesmerized!
  11.  Make a Scrapbook: In this digital age, it’s not as common to print out pictures anymore.  As an avid scrapbooker for many years, I absolutely adore the ACT of making a scrapbook, in addition to looking through it later.  Here is a scrapbook kit with all the supplies you need!
  12. Make DIY Artwork: My favorite DIY project involved 3 white canvases, mod podge, and PostSecret books (this PostSecret book is great, too)!  I cut out my favorite pictures and arranged them on the canvas, then mod podged over them.  It turned into a beautiful picture that looked professional and did not cost too much $!  PLUS, you can keep the books on your coffee table or bookshelf to read later!
  13. Create a Vision Board: It’s great to have goals.  It’s even better when you can SEE those goals!  This book is a great guide to making a vision board, and this cork board/ white board combination is a great starting place!
  14. Save Your Favorite Memories: My favorite picture is on the background of my phone and computer.  I carry around a printed picture of my family in my purse.  I save my favorite quotes on my phone’s “to do list.” When you find a picture, quote, or something else that you want to remember, find a way to make it easily accessible to you!
  15. Watch Your Favorite Movie or TV Show… again: There is something about watching FRIENDS that is so comforting for me.  I have probably seen every episode about 12,583 times, but I will never get tired of Chandler’s jokes or Phoebe’s songs.  This can be a great way to distract yourself, or to multitask when you want some background noise!

I would love to hear if you try any of these ideas!  How do YOU engage your sense of sight in self-care?  Drop a comment below!

Liz Gray, LCSW, RPT is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist in Connecticut.  Liz works with children, adolescents, and young adults, and especially loves to use EMDR and sandtray therapy when working with clients.  For more information, contact Liz HERE!