Compared to sight, touch and hearing, smell is often treated as relatively unimportant. There are no charities for those who have issues smelling correctly and, “can you smell that?” is a comment that rarely leads to anything positive.

However, smell is far more important than we give it credit for. There are reasons smells from our past instantly trigger feelings of nostalgia. In fact, that nagging feeling of remembering a smell, but forgetting where from is because of how our brain is wired. It’s because of this that nothing can create physiological change as quickly as smell.

Sight, sound and feel are filtered by the brain in order to determine priority – meaning that if a small red box is sitting next to your car, which is on fire, your brain will prioritise the fire and you’re unlikely to notice the red box.

These rules do not apply to smell. When you smell something, there is no filtration process and no chance for you to make your own evaluations. In other words, nothing gets to your brain faster than smell. Most astoundingly, is where ‘ smell memories,’ are kept. They are sent directly to your long-term memory and as a result, you often remember the smell, but not the reason for it.

In home and office environments, lighting and sound are given priority. The reason smell is not, is the language we use to describe when something is ‘wrong’ with smells. For example, if a smell evokes an uncomfortable memory that we can’t quite put our finger on, we might say, “There’s a strange feeling in here.”  or ” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something I don’t like about this place.”

Hotels and real estate agents have been aware of this for a long time, “When trying to sell a house, put on a pot of coffee,” has been a golden rule in real estate for years. Luxury hotels will often have subtle custom scents in their rooms, designed to put all the senses at ease.

Likewise, personal aromatherapy is becoming more popular. Small nasal inhalers can be easily filled with essential oils to help the user feel motivated, focused or relaxed at the appropriate time. experimenting with smells is not only great way to relive childhood memories, but also to enhance our daily lives.