Bliss out with scented candles that promise to boost focus, relaxation, and sleep. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.
The warm glow of a candle illuminating one’s well-rested mien while soaking in a salt bath is the archetypal image of self-care. But burning candles is more than just fragrance, it’s also a sort of olfactory self-expression and a therapeutic means to relax.
Silly as it might sound, candles offer tangible benefits for mental health, thanks to their roots in the practice of aromatherapy. According to a study published in the journal Scientia Pharmaceutica in 2016, about 300 active olfactory receptor genes are devoted to detecting thousands of different fragrance molecules through a large family of olfactory receptors.
As such, scents are crucial to the physiological effects of one’s mood, stress levels, and even the ability to focus. By introducing scents that uplift our environment, we’re creating a space that stimulates our senses for the better.
Candle gazing meditation
With its origins in Hatha yoga, candle gazing, also known as trataka sadhana, is a meditation technique in which the practitioner focuses his or her gaze on a single visual point. A burning candle, with its soft flicker, naturally lulls participants into a trance-like state that can improve concentration over time. Gazing meditations are also shown to improve memory and recall. While yogic traditions claim that this practice can relieve eye tension, this has not been confirmed.
A relaxing bath with scented candles
If your idea of relaxation is a hot bath surrounded by your favourite scented candles, you’re probably not alone. A long soak in a warm bath not only relaxes tensed muscles but also helps to reduce blood pressure and improve blood circulation. To create a calming and spa-like ambience, consider candles with a long burn time and a soothing scent—vanilla, wood, jasmine, and lavender are popular options. While you’re at it, don’t forget to stay safe by only placing candles on stable surfaces, which means you shouldn’t be placing candles on the edge of bathtubs no matter how pretty they look.
Candles to energise your living space
Whether you’re planning to stay under the sheets on a cosy day, read a book, or declutter your room, the right candle can help to energise you for the chosen activity. On lazy days, relax with candles fragranced with lavender or vanilla to improve sleep and slow down the heart rate. To boost intimacy, try the musky and sweet scents of sandalwood or rose. For times when alertness and focus are required, go for peppermint or citrus-forward candles to perk yourself up and promote cognitive functions.