It’s that time of year again when life at school is all stress and frazzle from trying to recall all the information your teachers having been trying to stuff into you over the past months and years, so you can get it down in some form or other on your exam papers.  Poor you!  How would it be if you flipped this around and thought “how lucky am I to get this chance to show what I know and move onwards and upwards towards an independent life doing just what I want?”.

The other day I was working with a group of skaters on the way we experience stuff which happen to us and the filters we run it through in our heads.  In NLP we use the term VAKOG to abbreviate the different senses through which we experience everything.  VAKOG relates to seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting, and everything we experience comes through to our heads via one of these senses.

While most of us mainly use seeing (V), hearing (a) or feeling (k) to take things in, there is no denying the power of the sense of smell.  It’s with us everywhere. Walk down the road and catch a whiff of barbecue cooking and we are instantly transported to a warm summer Sunday with friends and relatives chatting and playing in the garden while the menfolk are cooking burgers and sausages. Or head into a department store when you’re out shopping as the scent of your mum’s perfume (or your dad’s aftershave!) takes you to another instant memory.

As our sense of smell is one of the most powerful of our senses, used in the right way we can make it work as a really good tool to help us relax – or energise us.  Here’s an exercise to try: take a trip outdoors with a notebook and capture as many smells as you can in one column and what memories or feelings they conjure up in the other.  Go to different places – a forest, the shops, the seaside, even the rink!  When you have a good long list, you can then divide up the memories and feelings into happy/sad ones, calming/energising ones and just plain old good and bad ones!  Work out what smells evoke happy, calm and energising feelings and then use this knowledge when you next need to be in that happy, calm or energised state.

I found this video, from Richard J Davidson’s article in The Huffington Post demonstrates several different smells that have a direct impact on the way we feel. It’s well known that lavender is said to be calming, but did you know that cinnamon is supposed to sharpen your mind? and that pine can relieve stress?  Why not use some of these to help you be in a positive state for your exams, skating tests or competitions?

TV screen lavender with play button canva

Eleven scents that can do wonders for your wellbeing (Huffington Post)