It’s no secret that working on a startup can be extremely stressful and take a toll on your health. There’s also no shortage of advice on how to deal with it. However, one area that’s normally overlooked is the power of scent, or aromas. It may sound odd, but research has shown how various aromas can reduce stress and help alleviate other symptoms. Both mainstream and startup companies have jumped on the movement with interesting offerings, and we’re not talking Glade Plugins, here. There are many advanced products that leverage aromas for different uses and effects.
The most common use of scent as a health booster comes in the form of aromatherapy, which uses essential oils (distilled from plants) and dry plant material (botanicals) and various dispersion techniques to create an inhalable aroma. For those who are skeptical of its effectiveness, consider that it’s been in use for thousands of years in various forms, and recent studies help confirm its benefits. Consider a study from The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine dealing with burnout — characterized by stress, fatigue, a cynical attitude toward work, and a reduction in productivity. When scents from various aromatic compounds were inhaled using personal inhalers, there was a significant reduction in symptoms.
Another study from the journal, Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, showed a link between the scent of rosemary with an improvement in cognitive function. NASA also funded a study showing decreased fatigue, anxiety and frustration using the scent of peppermint oil. Aside from studies, scores of people have reported benefits. A more complete rundown of various herbs and their uses can be found here.
The following are some of the most advanced products and developments in the field:
1. Scent Drive: This 4GB USB flash drive comes to life when plugged in, releasing scents when essential oils have been added. It has 13MB/second read and 10MB/second write speeds.
2. USB Aroma Radio and Speaker: This is another USB device with far more functionality. It serves as a diffuser (diffusers are one method for heating and dispersing essential oils into the air), an MP3 player, a radio, and a decorative piece. It lights up in various colors, but would look good in light or dark.
3. Aromax: This modern, cone-shaped diffuser is constructed of anodized aluminum, and the scent output is adjustable. It runs silently and uses a standard wall plug for power.
4. Vaporizers: Advanced devices like the Arizer Solo, which resembles an iPod, heat dry botanicals instead of using oils, and tend to be handheld (although there are desktop models). Relative to other aromatherapy methods, this is fairly new and can be useful since materials are heated without burning, avoiding harmful byproducts and releasing a purer vapor without having to scent an entire room or area.
5. Peaceful Alarm Clock: For those who need help waking up, The Peaceful Progression Alarm Clock from Hammacher Schlemmer uses nature sounds and various scents along with light as a gentler wake-up alarm. It can even connect to an iPod, iPhone or CD player for added functionality.
To help deal with the stress involved with a startup (or any job for that matter), the power of scent may be worth a try. The variety of related gadgets and advanced techniques is quickly expanding. That said, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a medical professional or specialized vendor before exploring any health-related treatments.