While I've always believed in the power of fragrance to uplift and inspire, I became intensely aware of its ability to cocoon us in comfort during lockdown, when I actively pursued moments of respite and wellbeing in a world gripped with fear and uncertainty.
Have you ever noticed how a sense of smell impacts your daily life, like silver threads interlaced through its narrative...
This might begin with freshly brewed coffee and hot buttery toast.
The aroma of citrus body wash in a warm shower.
Minty fresh toothpaste.
Menthol shaving oil.
Skincare laced with cucumber or rose.
The first morning spritz of fragrance that adds spring to your step.
Fresh air, green with succulence on your morning walk.
Fumes from a passing truck.
Zingy sweet and sour zest as you slice fruit for a snack.
A whisp of bergamot as you massage in hand cream.
The whaft of fresh flowers in your hallway or garden.
That's 12 different scent scenarios before lunch time... isn't it amazing how many there are when you stop to think?
While scent has always been important to me, it became acutely significant during these unprecedented months, thanks to its unique ability to energise, soothe and restore - as well as adding joy to my days.
Our sense of smell isn't only about noticing what something smells like; it's a much more complex experience - and the only sense that connects to both memory and instinct. Certain smells have the ability to transport us to distant lands, dreams and into the arms of the ones we love, even while we're apart. To me, smelling perfume is about being taken on a metaphorical journey, most welcome while confined to the same space for months on end.
In lockdown, not only were scents especially grounding; they offered a sense of escapism, hope and somehow helped create a sense of closeness to loved ones, reminding us of shared happy times.
During this time, I craved a sense of continuance and structure, making a conscious choice to be present in the moment and look forward with a sense of hope.
Applying fragrance was (as ever) the grand finale of my morning routine, with an extra spritz late afternoon, when the opening hesperedic notes of STORIES Nº.01
would literally lift my spirits. I also loved to apply Nº.02 Hand & Body Lotion
in late evening, to nourish and soothe my skin and senses, helping me unwind.
Scientific studies into the effect of odours on the brain show that what we smell has a profound impact on our mood, our working capacity and our sense of wellbeing - I completely concur.
Perfume can support our wellbeing in so many ways, forging connections with our memories and empowering us to engage with our emotions. Of our five senses, there is none so intricately connected to our emotions as our sense of smell, related to the limbic system in our brain that processes both smell and emotion.
Our olfactory centre also interacts directly with the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for the formation of new memories... these are deeply rooted connections.
Finding healing from emotional pain through fragrance inspired STORIES Parfums Founder and Creative Director, Tonya Kidd-Beggs to create her collection:
"During a particularly challenging time in my life, scent made the difference between life and death. My circumstances were better than they had been in a long time but my heart was sick and I started falling apart.
"I was in California at the time and in the middle of a conversation when I smelt something that I can only describe as a heavenly aroma. I caught a whiff of it and it completely overwhelmed me. It was like a key that gave me access to memories I had buried very deeply. It was the starting point of a journey of restoration. The heavenly scent is what I sought to reproduce in STORIES Nº.01. It is a very significant blend for me."
The power of fragrance evoked a time of healing that brought hope and joy to Tonya's life following a time of darkness. This is the reason she is so passionate about bringing beautiful scents and the wellbeing they inspire into other's lives.
Did you continue to wear perfume throughout lockdown - or did any particular scents bring you comfort at this time? We would love to know...