Mar 122012

I love the use of simple rituals to prep for work and creative projects.  Some add clear, physical benefits, while others simply provide a psychological anchor.

Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or drinking a special drink, it’s helpful to establish a simple ritual that is both pleasurable and effective.  These are also little pleasures that help make your immediate experience and overall life a work of art. Here’s a very simple ritual you can try that takes seconds and very little preparation: simply inhale the scent of rosemary.

The reason?

Recent research shows that the scent of rosemary may improve speed and accuracy during mental tasks.

Get the effect by taking a whiff of fresh rosemary or essential oil at the start of your day or before beginning a project.  Rosemary has a pungent pine scent that’s also great for seasoning.  Consider buying fresh rosemary and keeping a small bowl near your work space. You can use it again later by incorporating it into your meals for a healthy and tasty boost or by drinking it as a tea.

The Evidence:

Twenty people performed cognitive tasks (such as subtraction and processing new information) before and after smelling rosemary. Researchers measured their blood levels for 1,8 cineole (rosemary’s main chemical component) after the experiment, and found that higher levels correlated with better speed and accuracy. This study was published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.

My experience:

I recently purchased some rosemary, so I could try this out for myself and just now took a few deep breaths with it.  I found it very soothing and pleasant, although it wasn’t soothing in a relaxing way, the way that smelling lavender is. The study did not find it to increase alertness, but there is definitely something energizing, clarifying, and inspiring about it.

Well, no there are no real cognitive tasks for me to do today (Sunday), but I will be using the rosemary as aromatherapy at the start of my day for the rest of the week, and will update if I notice any significant changes.

Leave a comment below if you have found the scent of rosemary to be helpful or if you have an aromatherapy or essential oil ritual to share.

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  14 Responses to “Simple Rituals: The Scent of Rosemary for Productivity”

  1. I love starting my day with positive intentions and a wonderful scent to go with it. Each morning I choose a scent and take time to breath and think about the day. Great blog.

  2. I love rosemary and rituals! I must try this.

  3. Lavender’s always been my go-to fragrance to relax. I’m going to give rosemary a try. I’m always surprised how purposely smelling herbal fragrances can create a sense of calm.

    • Lavender is one of mine too! I find rosemary more energizing and clarifying than soothing, but I love having different scents to pull from for different situations.


  4. I’ve got a major editing/rewriting project ahead for me today, so I just snipped some rosemary from the garden. My productivity could use a big boost!

  5. I love the smell of Rosemary. It reminds me of holidays in Spain or the south of France. I don’t know what it would do to me when really using the essential oil every day. Looking forward to your experience!


    • Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I appreciate that! That sounds like a beautiful memory. I love how scent is so deeply linked to memory. I’m sure the pleasant memories and associations would be a boost in using it!


  6. I have some rosemary .. I haven’t tried it but am glad to read your post as to its effectiveness. I will go try it now !

  7. I love essential oils though I’d admit it’s been awhile since I’ve had a whiff of rosemary so I’m going to have to add that to the wish list for this month. I enjoy many different scents, but jasmine is the one I always go back to, particularly during stressful periods. Thanks for the tip and inspiration Christina!

  8. Another great article. Rosemary is one herb that is easy to grow here in the California desert where I live, so I plan to putting your tips to use.

    • Oooh that would be amazing to be able to walk outside and pick some fresh! I imagine that would be part of the ritual and setting intention to focus in a soft way with ease. Love it!


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