Photo courtesy of Earl of East

At the beginning of lockdown, we fought hard to stay motivated and the sudden change in our circumstances, although daunting, brought an unparalleled sense of optimism and community. Some took up new hobbies, some slowed down and some returned to enjoy what they've always loved. At Because, we want to keep that spirit alive this winter season and our new comfort series will focus on the more subtle and easily achieved ways of keeping our spirits up amidst the cold and confusion each day brings.

For the first instalment, we look at the power of scents and how we might harness it effectively to bring us a sense of calm. 

The days are shorter and sniffles have replaced sun tans, but as if that wasn't reason enough to look after ourselves, the impending second national lockdown effective as of tomorrow, is a blaring reminder about the importance of self-care; and sometimes it's as easy as breathing. 

It is widely known that our olfactory senses are deeply connected to our mood but as you might've guessed, this connection becomes all the more important during the winter months.  "With the shorter days and lack of sufficient sunlight, our mood is severely impacted as it’s harder to make enough of the happy hormone serotonin", Dr. Tara Swart of Aromatherapy Associates explains. Luckily, boosting our happy hormone doesn't mean standing out in London's grey overcast weather trying to catch some rays, instead it's as simple as a drop of essential oil. 

Dr. Swart emphasises that bath and shower oils are "the foundation of aromatherapy" – which is good news because this means our showers just got a whole lot more luxurious. Using essential oils is as easy as applying it after dry body brushing or slathering a body oil before you step into the shower. All it takes is one tweak to set you on an optimism-boosting path.  For those new to aromatherapy, Dr. Swart recommends picking a scent you like but do look out for Rose blends to feel uplifted and Frankincense to de-stress. 

While essential oils don't need to be as intimidating as they seem, there is of course a reason why they have this reputation. As Dr. Swart mentions, "Essential oils have a higher potency...high enough to actually create a therapeutic response." So for those in the mood for a slightly lighter stimulation of the senses, let's turn to one of our favourite pieces of homeware: candles. We can't deny that they make for pretty bedside table adornments but like essential oils, scented candles can also impact how we feel. Niko Dafkos and Paul Firmin, founders of East London fragrance brand, Earl of East, say that, "[...] Lighting a candle creates a cosier ambience and a real sense of being home. There is a ritual associated with it for us, as it marks the evening or other moments of the day, for example, taking a relaxing bath on a Sunday evening to decompress from a busy week."

And we couldn't agree more – there's nothing like lighting the wick of your favourite scent and feeling like you've signed off for the day. When it comes to winter, Niko and Paul say to look out for woody or musky scents; if you're looking to the purveyors themselves then look out for their Smoke & Musk candle.

Lastly, we can't talk about scent without mentioning perfume. Sometimes it's the first thing you notice about someone and the whiff of a lightly floral scent in the city can feel like a breath of fresh air. While essential oils and candles are mostly confined to our homes, perfume can be taken with you everywhere. As Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street, puts it, "A waft of a particular scent can bring memories flooding back." So this winter, get cosy and nostalgic –  Michelle recommends Floral Street's "Wild Vanilla Orchid" which contains "creamy vanilla beans, cassis, citrus and blossom, dressed in a bunch of just-plucked jasmine."
If vanilla isn't your thing and like us, you've put away your floral scents in favour of musky ones, you may want to dig them back out, as Michelle explains that some studies have shown that "floral scents increase happy thoughts" – and indeed, happy thoughts are especially welcomed right now. 

Shop more uplifting scents below: