If you are a dispatcher, you have one of the most stressful jobs out there. To be ready and focused for the next call, we know you can use all the help you can get! Read on to better understand the powerful impact of scent on mood and productivity. And we'll share a great tip that we accidentally discovered while setting up for APCO.
To scent or not to scent?
There are mixed feelings about smells in the workplace. Some agencies ban perfumes and scented lotions. (If you've every been overtaken by a sneezing fit brought on by heavy odor, you might understand why.) However, you may be surprised to know how much smell can positively affect your mood.
Not sure it's possible to enjoy the benefits of scent in a small Center? We are confident you can and here's why you should.
Smell, calm, focus - repeat
To most people, a smell isn’t just a fragrance — it can be a powerful memory trigger. When peppermint begins to fill the air, do you think of your grandmother’s house? Or maybe it’s the smell of fresh-baked apple pie that brings you back to your mother’s kitchen, helping her bake when you were young. These memories can lift your spirits. Scent has a powerful effect on the brain, and there is an abundance of scientific research to support it.
With this in mind it shouldn't surprise you that aromatherapy can be used to ease work stress, reduce tension and boost general wellness. According to our friends at WebMD:
Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be calming or stimulating.
The oils are thought to interact with the body's hormones and enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse, and other body functions. Another theory suggests that the fragrance of certain oils may stimulate the body to produce pain-fighting substances.
Types of aromatherapy that meet the PSAP, close-quarters test
Unlike perfumes and lotions that may travel with the wearer, well-placed aromatherapy tools direct scent right where the dispatcher works. Scent creep should be avoided. Dispatchers also need to be sensitive to potential spillage and tech equipment interference.
The solution? Dry-based scents and soft-blend contained liquids. Here are a few that have proven a good fit for our team:
- Scented stress balls
- Roller balls with subtle scent blends like Aveda Blue Oil
- Scented hot/cold packs
- Essential oil diffuser clips with washable and refillable scent pads
TIP: Our APCO set-up this year was in a VERY warm convention center hall. As you might imagine, the team was feeling fairly stale. While on a run to the local "everything store," we picked up a couple car diffusers and attached them to the consoles dash fans. Wow! What a difference it made. Good bye stale air; hello fresh. The scent was subtle and refreshing and easily tucked away at the end of the night.
Imagine - your dispatchers can choose a scent that helps them de-stress and remove them at the end of the shift.
Six scents worth considering for easing stress after tough calls
Lemon. This scent promotes concentration and has calming and clarifying properties that are helpful when you're feeling angry, anxious or run down. Lemon also has antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help fight sore throats and colds by boosting the body's immune system and improving circulation.
Lavender. This essential oil has calming properties that help control emotional stress. Lavender has a soothing effect on nerves and can relieve nervous tension and depression as well as treat headaches and migraines.
Jasmine. Like lavender, jasmine it is also used to calm nerves, but this oil is also commonly used as an anti-depressant because of its uplifting capabilities that produce a feeling of confidence, optimism and revitalized energy.
Rosemary. This is the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up. In addition to improving memory retention, rosemary has stimulating properties that fight physical exhaustion, headaches and mental fatigue. "It's excellent to use in the mornings when one needs a bit of help getting going," says Hawkins. Rosemary can also be used topically to relieve muscular aches and pains.
Cinnamon. The stimulating properties in cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration and focus.
Peppermint. Try peppermint when brainstorming. An energy booster, this scent invigorates the mind, promotes concentration and stimulates clear thinking.
If you think these scents are too "soft," browse the man's guide to essential oil fragrances for earthier, spicier alternatives.
Sign up to receive more tips for boosting focus and energy while dispatching.
Curious about other aromatherapy scents and their effects? Discover what they can do for you.
For more about reducing stress at your agency, check out these blogs:
- The Power of Resilience: How to Thrive as a 911 Dispatcher
- Bring the Outdoors in to Reduce Stress in your PSAP
- N.E.A.T. Changes Get Big Results