The Science Behind The Smell Of Fall

The Science Behind The Smell Of Fall

Cinnamon, campfires, and falling leaves all might remind you of this special season, but is there a science behind the scent of October?
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Upon walking outside anytime near October, you might notice a distinct smell that will automatically bring up memories of carving pumpkins, warm blankets, and football games. While you might think you are the only one who really thinks that October has a smell, it is a fairly common idea. But is it really true? Looking to Yahoo and Facebook for answers, people seem to think it is just your brain associating smells with Halloween, and it depends on where you live.

People report that the scent of campfires, mud, cinnamon, and pumpkins typically remind them of this festive season. October is usually the month when winter starts to kick in, the mornings are cold and the leaves on trees begin to change to the beautiful red and yellow colors. I grew up in southern Texas, a place not particularly known for its cold weather, and while October wasn't always cold, it still had the distinct smell that I have known and loved, and it is the same smell that permeates the Indiana air that I now live in. The cool weather is not an event that happens nationwide, but does this October smell exist?

Upon further research on a meteorology forum, there is a distinct smell of snow; nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, nitric acid, dimethyl sulphide and sulphate and methanesulphonate to be exact. While it doesn't always snow in October, perhaps the cooling of the weather creates odorous chemicals. Olfactory scientist Pamela Dalton of Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia explains that odor molecules move more slowly in cold weather as opposed to the summer heat, and this could explain the reason behind the distinct smell of October. The part of our brain that deals with smells is the olfactory area and it is these olfactory receptors, Dalton explains, that bury themselves a little deeper in our noses. Could it be that the reason October has a smell is because we are actually not smelling the things we normally do at other times during the year?

On a hot summer day, smells seem to be amplified, if you walk past any dumpster in the middle of August you will notice the smell is much more horrible than the smell of a dumpster in January. So the colder air could be this link to the infamous October smell. A neurologist and psychiatrist, Alan Hirsch, explains that our trigeminal nerve, the one that makes you cry when you chop on onion, is stimulated by the cold air. So, while your olfactory senses are already changing, your trigeminal nerve is also being stimulated, creating the more intense smell that is common to the colder weather. Hirsch also added that there is a very strong psychological component to our sense of smell, which could also be influencing it. Furthermore, Hirsch explains that what we think something should smell like actually impacts how we smell that smell. So, some of this phenomenon might be in our heads, but it still doesn't change the fact that our brains associate this time of year with certain smells.

October and the colder air can smell differently for different people. No two people have the same brain, so that means that everyone's olfactory center isn't the same either. While pumpkin pie might smell amazing to one person, another can be repulsed by the scent of the festive gourd.

Regardless, October is the beginning of fall, the time of the year where you turn on your heater, keep your windows closed, eat hot food with rich spices and in turn, those spices fill up your house. While the fall weather can smell differently for a lot of people, the scent of cinnamon, the warm spices of a bowl of chili, the autumn leaves crunching under your feet are all smells that I associate with October. The smell of this season is up for debate, but I think everyone can agree that October has its own distinct smell that differs from the warm summer days. So make a cup of hot chocolate, sit on your front porch in the cool weather, and take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that you get to smell the beautiful smells of our Earth.

Cover Image Credit: arbuturian.com

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I Drank Lemon Water For A Week And Here's What Happened

It has already changed my life.

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There are so many health crazes out there now, it's hard to tell what actually works and what doesn't; or more importantly what is healthy and what is making your body worse. I read about simply drinking lemon water and I figured that didn't sound gross or bad for me so I figured I would give it a try. I've been drinking it consistently for a week and a half and I already notice some results.

I've never been a fan of lemon in my water, I always refuse it at restaurants. You definitely have to find your sweet spot in lemon to water ratio, in what tastes good to you. I personally cut the lemon into quarters and use on quarter per day. I put the lemon quarter in the bottle and then continuously fill with water throughout the day. I still get the yummy lemon flavor all day because I do not squeeze the lemon. It took about a bottle or two to get used to the lemon flavor, and now I just crave it.

Lemon water is supposed to speed up your metabolism. Obviously, a week is not long enough to tell if this is fact or fiction but I have noticed a change in appetite. I feel like I do not get hungry as often as I did before. I saw this effect within 24-48 hours of starting the experiment. This seems opposite to a fast metabolism but we'll see.

I definitely feel more hydrated with lemon water. I drink a lot of water anyways, about 80 oz a day but for some reason with the lemon, it makes me feel better. I don't feel as sluggish, I'm not getting hot as easily, and my skin feels amazing. I am slightly skeptical though because the lemon almost makes my tongue dry requiring me to drink more water, so I have upped my intake by about 20oz. I'm unsure if the hydration is due to the extra water, the lemon, or both!

My face is clearing up and feels so much softer too, in only a week! I have not gotten a new pimple since I have started my lemon water kick, may be coincidence but I'm not going to argue with it.

I also feel skinnier as I feel like I'm not holding as much water weight. I only exercise lightly, for the most part, walking around a mile or two a day so we can eliminate exercise factor to the slender feeling.

I have a messy stomach. Everything upsets it, and even though lemons are very acidic, they have not affected me in a negative way at all. It almost seems like the lemon water is helping me digest the difficult foods that my stomach doesn't like. I'm nowhere near a doctor so don't trust my word but it seems to be working for me.

From the effects I've felt so far, it also seems like lemon water may be a great hangover cure! I haven't tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I can't say a negative thing about drinking lemon water so far expect you have to buy the lemons! If you try this for yourself though just make sure you are using an enamel saving mouthwash or toothpaste since lemons aren't so great for your teeth.

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Seeking Mental Health Support Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

In a world based on "likes," try to think about what really matters.

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I'm going to start this piece by telling you three truths and one lie, and I want you to guess to yourself which of my following statements fall into each category.

  • I am a semi-accomplished runner. I have run two full marathons and somewhere around ten halves. I am almost always in constant training.
  • My favorite part about eating a bowl of cereal is drinking the leftover milk after the cereal is all gone.
  • I was prescribed sleeping medication when I was 16; anti-depressants at 16 and anti-anxieties at 20.
  • Right now, I'd consider my therapist the person I'm closest to out of everyone in my life.

As much as I would love to tell anyone reading this that I'm a badass runner who has a thing for milk that tastes like fruit, only part of that would be true. And even the term "badass" is pushing it, in my opinion.

Yes, I am an avid runner.

Yes, I have been on a plethora of medications since my late teens (so, almost ten years).

Yes, my therapist is currently my BAE.

And guess what- NO, I do not like tainted sugary milk. It gives me literal chills to just think about.

My point of saying those things is not to give myself the opportunity to go on for another eight hundred words about my irrational fear of milk or to brag about my ability to run. We're actually going to drop the whole crusty milk thing right now because it's completely irrelevant and gross, and instead, I want to draw your attention to the actual purpose of this piece.

It starts with mental and ends with health. So, let's backtrack to the part about running and start there.

Let me be really honest with you- running helped save me. I do not run for the attention, I run for me. I run for my sanity. I literally run for my life. I am physically able to get myself to the gym every day and pull off four-hour races because of my MENTAL strength. My physical stamina would be complete dog crap if it were not for my mentality. Thanks to the trials and tribulations of my life, somewhere along the line, a very driven and durable mentality was forced to come through. I want to make this very clear- any and all physical strength originates from your MIND. Our thoughts and our perspectives determine what we are not only capable of doing, but what we're willing to do. So, if you say to yourself, "I want to run a marathon", it's not the craziest thought in the world. It is more than possible for anyone willing to put their mind to it. Hard work is the key to success, and in order to do literally anything, we may dream of-we must first have the kind of mentality to do so. And not only must we have the mental strength to start, but we have to develop it to a place that enables us to keep going. So, yeah, I can absolutely run 26 miles consecutively on a given day, but I would not have gotten to that point without the mentality of someone who refuses to give up.

But why bring up the fact I've been on a smorgasbord of medications or that I'm messed up enough to rely on someone I'm paying for emotional support?

Well, first off, there is no shame in seeing a therapist OR having to take medication when necessary.

I have buckets of shame stemming from a lifetime of poor decisions, but when it comes to seeking help in the form of therapy, I am the farthest thing but ashamed for that. It's actually the complete opposite. There're few things I can say out loud that I am proud of myself for, but being vulnerable (my new favorite term) and allowing a professional to help me during a time of confusion and life-shattering realizations. Well, that I am damn proud of.

It is stupid hard to face your past, your guilt, your mistakes- I know. But, think about it. What if we took the kind of attention and time we put towards our physical appearances and channeled it into progressing our minds and our sanity?

I'm not saying physical health isn't important, because it is extremely pertinent to a person's overall well-being, but the point I was making with my running is that our physical health cannot thrive without the initial mental capacity and willingness to push yourself.

I have recently deleted my Instagram app because I am so damn sick of seeing people, especially celebrities with a platform, using social media to promote bullshit that just doesn't matter in the big scheme of life. Yes, it feels good to look good- but what if instead of endorsing selfies we chose to get offline for a hot second and do something nice for someone else? There is no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone in need. It's damn good for the soul.

I'm not a professional when it comes to doing the right thing and being a good person, but because I am recovering from addiction and attending therapy regularly- I am gaining a world of new perspectives. Perspectives that scare the hell out of me- yet, they make sense.

We are all currently living a world filled with narcissism. A world that tells us to be perfect or it's not good enough. But what if we were able to band together and start talking about the things that matter? What if we were able to support each other rather than knock each other down?

I am willing to put all my bullshit on the line if it means I have the chance to reach someone who is hurting- and I think if we were all to be completely honest with ourselves, we'd all be able to recognize, to a degree, how much hurt we feel. Maybe not everyone is as broken as I am, but we all have pain. We all have regrets. We all wake up every day and think about that one thing we wish we weren't thinking about.

In a society based off expectations, what if we were to put our pride aside and lean on each other?

What if we were to take our cumulative obsession with physical beauty and say to ourselves: I am more than my reflection.

Looks fade, and so does our physical health. What will stay with us until the day we die is our soul. Our spirit. So, instead of using valuable hours of the day to decide what filter to use, why don't you call that friend who's having a tough time with her boyfriend and be her shoulder to lean on? Why don't you buy your mom flowers for no reason? Why don't you go to that yoga class or read that book you heard was good? Why don't you try talking to God?

I have been a victim to this world of physical fixation; I am the first one to stand up and admit I have spent way too much time being a shallow douche. But after spending years and years of my life focusing my energy into what other people think, I just don't give a shit anymore. And I think it's time more people get on board. It's tough feeling like no matter what we do, it won't compare to what the person next to us is doing- but that kind of thinking is the exact poison that has all of our mentality completely fudged up.

If you are not mentally stable, I can assure you the rest of your life is chaotic.

You don't have to go balls-to-the-wall and voice your story out to the world, as I am demonstrating, but talk to someone. Stop worrying about what other people think about you because the truth of the matter is that they don't freaking know you. They just don't.

If you've been awesome enough to take the time to read this article- I would like to leave you with this: there is nothing more admirable or beautiful than being yourself. It's cliché, I know. But the annoying thing about clichés is that they are true.

Mental health is excruciatingly important, so many people in this world are hurting, and it's about damn time for us to reach out to each other and assure one another, "it's going to be okay".

I promise you it means a hell of a lot more than double tapping a picture on Instagram.

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