Although Aron states that highly sensitive people (HSP) are not shown to have heightened senses in general a HSP usually has one sense that is extra tuned in and sharp. For some this is smell. Some notice every smell around them, whilst others are oblivious to scents.
The Power of a Smell
Smell is evocative for many people – a particular smell can cast you back in time; a particular baking smell can send you right back to childhood days standing in your mother’s kitchen waiting for the cookies to bake, cut grass can take you back to lazy childhood summers.
Smells evoke memories.
Smells evoke associations – like the scent of a mother on a t-shirt laid in a baby’s cot.
Our sense of smell is a powerful thing.
A HSC’s Overwhelm May Stem From Scents
But smells can also cause overwhelm for a highly sensitive child (HSC), or adult for that matter, if they are unable to effectively filter out sensory stimuli.
If your HSC has a sharp sense of smell and seems to be overwhelmed when you are out and about then consider the role that the scents around you may play.
Think about all the different aromas you can pick up at the shopping mall: Coffee, food, perfumes, cleaning materials, body odour, garbage. Just for starters.
Or the scents that invade the nostrils on a hike in the woods.
Or whilst walking around town.
Or sitting in a kitchen.
Smells can cause both an emotional and a physical reaction – disgust, hunger, nausea, yearning, nostalgia, joy.
Use Smells to Your Advantage
I smell things that my husband does not. I could be used as a police sniffer human. It can cause immense irritation and discomfort; for example if someone is smoking anywhere near me or rubbish smells in the kitchen bin.
As an adult I have learnt to turn it around and use my heightened sense of smell to help me. Different scents can cause positive emotions and favourable states of mind.
It’s something I first related to whilst reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and it’s an idea I have embraced ever since. Spending money on things that smell nice may seem luxurious – but the impact the right smell can have on your happiness or state of mind is worth the investment. It really is worth indulging! (You can read more on this here).
In short, smells can also make you happy!
In the past few months I have delved into the world of essential oils, learning which particular smells make me feel relaxed, which raise my spirits, which help when I have a headache or scents that help balance me.
I extensively use a diffuser in our home.
I’ve lots more to learn but so far I do know that a whiff of a favourite essential oil can really do wonders.