The average person in the US will take around 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Most of us will spend about one third of our life working indoors, often in an office setting. That’s more than 200 million breaths taking in the recycled office air, tinged with the scent of your co-workers microwaved leftovers from the break room.

Luckily, it doesn’t always have to be this way. In fact – it shouldn’t be this way at all.

What you smell throughout the day impacts your memory, work performance, stress-levels, and overall focus. Whether you are a manager looking to increase company morale or an employee trying to improve your own work environment, these four scents are proven to help you get the most out of each breath at the office.

Improve your cognitive function with rosemary

We’re all looking to cultivate an office environment conducive to better work performance. Whether we want to receive that promotion, the next raise, or just an acknowledgment of a job well-done, the air you breathe could help you succeed in the workplace. Rosemary, that delightful fragrant herb we mostly think of in our kitchens, can be a solution to achieving optimum results in the office. Recent studies show the scent of rosemary directly enhances work performance, memory, and overall cognitive function.

Find new ways to relax at work with a bit of lavender

The pressure caused by work can be overwhelming if your head is not in the right space – or nose for that matter. Imagine stressing a little less about presentations, projects, and deadlines. With subtle notes of lavender around the office, you can. Lavender has been proven to help with relaxation and anxiety. Studies show that not only does lavender alleviate stress, but the soothing scent is also known to reduce depression and insomnia.

Increase productivity by getting a little zesty in the office

When life hands you lemons at work – it might not be a bad thing. The invigorating scent of oranges, lemons, and other fruits in the citrus family are proven to help you get the most of your workday by keeping you energized. Hints of citrus are known to ignite and sustain your daily motivation, keeping you alert and ready to take on that to-do-list that’s been sitting on your desk for far too long.

Stay focused with some much needed encourage-mint

If you already feel energized at work, maybe peppermint is more your speed. Studies reveal that not only can peppermint make you more attentive at work, but it also can enhance your focus on projects. By adding a little bit of this refreshing aroma around the office, you can create an environment where you feel encouraged to tackle the tasks ahead and possibly even complete that report before the deadline.


  • SAGE Publications. (2012, February 24). Could rosemary scent boost brain performance? ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  • Peir Hossein Koulivand, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  • E. Heuberger, J. Ilmberger and G. Buchbauer (1998) Fragrance compounds and their influence on human attention processing. Congress of the European Chemoreception Research Organisation,
  • Lori Aratani. (2007, March 20) The Power of Peppermint is Put to the Test. The Washington Post Company.


About the Author

Heather Lane enjoys delving into research exploring the ways fragrance impacts people in their daily lives. She is a VP at Prolitec, a global provider of ambient scenting, and is working towards her MBA at Tulane University in New Orleans.

When not studying the fascinating ways fragrance interacts with the world of business, Heather renovates historic houses and gets her hands dirty with her non-profit ceramics arts studio.