My happy smell for productivity: eucalyptus and lemongrass

Scents have always had a powerful effect on me.

Although I left elementary school more than 20 years ago, a simple whiff of cafeteria food transports me back to those simple years filled with tater tots and milk boxes.

I worked at the Renaissance Festival during high school (I know, right?…) and wore Elizabeth Arden green tea perfume. A hint of that brings me back to selling Steak on a Stake and wearing the ridiculous costumes I thought were so great at the time.  (Ok, I still think they’re kinda cool.)

What scent memories do you have?

Some scents evoke memories and others bring out a feeling.

The scent of a loved one on a pillow can be relaxing. Living in New York, the smell of roasted chestnuts during winter brought a sense of calm.

To be sure, memories can be positive or negative, and so can feelings. The upside is that we can empower ourselves by harnessing the power of scent to create the right state for the right time.

In this post, I’m talking about favorite scent for productivity. As I write this, I’m using a cool mist oil diffuser with a mix of lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils. I find it uplifting and feel a sense of freshness.


I came to this mix through simple experimentation. Throughout the years, I’ve read that citrus smells can stimulate our senses. One study showed that lemon oil “reliably enhances positive mood compared to water and lavender.Another study on young women showed that yuzu (a Japanese citrus) significantly reduced heart rate and “total mood disturbance.”

Based on this, I first orange peel oil then lemongrass alone and, though they smelled nice, I didn’t notice any feelings of positivity or uplift.

I remembered hearing that minty smells can do something for you. One study showed that peppermint aromatherapy enhances memories. Eucalyptus is close to mint, so I created a mix with 6 drops of lemongrass oil, 5 drops of eucalyptus oil, 1/2 cup of water…and voilà!

This has been a great scent for productivity. I feel a difference when I’m enveloped in it. The first time I tried it, I unpacked two boxes I’d put off since moving two months ago!

What’s next

I’ll be mixing more scents and noting the effects or lack thereof, and I’ll be digging into the literature for future posts on scents and states of mind.

I’d love to hear from you: Do scents have a noticeable impact on you? What do they help you with? What are your favorite mixes?

What I’m using

I love this essential oil diffuser from Saimly. It’s got all the bells and whistles: seven color and four timer settings and a remote control (helpful if you’re using it to help relax before bed).

With it, I’ve been mixing this essential oil pack (but almost any will do).

If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Radha $15.95 diffuser or this cool-looking wooden one for $19.99.

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