Seriously, Smell Something

You know that saying, “Stop and smell the roses”? I’ve heard it for years but it’s like one of those things your mom tells you, but you don’t get it until you’re thirty, such as “Compliance is not consent.” Anyway, for all these years, I’ve been planting the roses, fertilizing the roses, watering and pruning the roses. And, yes, I’ve leaned over for a few seconds on my birthday to inhale the sweet fragrance of a bouquet. But that was it. On a day to day basis, I didn’t smell the roses. Heck, I barely took time to see the roses.

Yet, I’ve learned that engaging the senses when you’re stressed, especially the sense of smell, is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to relax your body. It’s sort of like biofeedback only it takes a lot less effort in my opinion. First, let’s establish that I know stress. I’m a real dentist with over two decades of experience. Yes, an “I hate dentist” real dentist. I’m a single mother of two. I have several side hustles on my eves and weekends annnnnd I could go on but you get the picture and I’m sure your to-do list is even longer.

Well, when I’ve come to the end of my mental road, I stop, close my eyes, and smell something. Really and truly inhale until I smell something. I realized a few years ago that I don’t normally smell anything unless it’s very pungent. Think about it? Right now. Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? LOL. Really. Do you smell anything? How is it possible that we walk around all day and smell nothing but perfume and cut grass? There must be dozens of odors around us all the time but we’ve numbed our senses so those sounds, sights, and odors don’t distract us from our work.

Distraction is good sometimes. Stop. Stand still and focus all your energy onto smelling something. Just anything in the air. Don’t pick a thing. Just inhale. At first, it may take a few minutes. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it in a few seconds. Just don’t move until you smell something. I’m always surprised by my discovery: it’s the lotion on my hands…the shampoo in someone’s hair…the rust on a park bench…rain in the air…usually, something very pleasant.

Immediately, I feel my heart rate and breathing slow. The chaotic thoughts in my mind line up like kindergarten children on a field trip. And I feel free for a moment. It’s a mental recess. And it makes those home-work assignments seem just a little easier.

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