Why Lighting Kitchen Candles Could Boost Your Morning Mood This Winter

A collaborative study from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University shows that whatever tone sets our mood in the morning continues to affect our mood all day long, per Harward Business Review. That's not great news for those of us who see the first morning light as our cue to get grouchy. However, we could use some effective home hacks that put a slightly friendlier early-morning pep in our step. Ideas on how to help make that happen are endless, from embracing the new trend of sunshiny alarm clocks to pulling off a breakfast nook décor refresh to the cut flowers on the kitchen island that can serve as meaningful stress relievers.

However, the weather is turning chillier by the minute. That can have our project management barometer temporarily setting at around sluggish, not to mention that cut flower solutions, which once were aplenty at the grocery, have dwindled as the temperatures have dropped.

A filler strategy as we get our winter bearings could be as simple as lighting a kitchen candle. The National Candle Association says a candle in the morning can boost your mood, calm your nerves and jumpstart your day, with science claims to back it up. Even one of those deliverables makes lighting a candle to help kickstart our winter mornings worth a try.

Which candle suits your needs?

With our family crews beating back the winter blues, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that starting the day with a citrusy-scented candle can offer a significant boost to our mood. The note of citrus scent meaningfully diminished study participants' categories of tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, and confusion. Citrus is a crisp, familiar smell related to summer and sunshine and can generally invigorate your mindset. Other invigorating candle scents to try include rosemary, orange, or lemon.

If someone in your family is facing a big test, cramming to finish college essays, or in need of a brainpower boost for a corporate brainstorm, consider lighting a peppermint-scented candle. Natural Society reports it has the power to improve memory and heighten attentiveness. Coffee-scented candles can also invoke the feeling of improved readiness, giving one a sense of amplified alertness and productivity.

Try a jasmine-scented candle if your kitchen is less in need of vigor at breakfast and more in need of a calm, cool, collected vibe; it reportedly lowers anxiety levels. Another scent specifically geared toward stress relief is lemongrass and fresh-cut grass, mainly noted for lowering blood pressure. It also bolsters our immune system and undermines forgetfulness (via DailyMail). Regardless of the scents you choose, a candle or cluster of candles can stir wakefulness in your morning crew while creating a welcoming ambiance — and there is nothing better than an inviting kitchen to make a house a home.

Scented, not smelly. Nobody likes a headache

Those of us known to grumble our good mornings may also have the added penchant for finding scented candles to be smelly, annoying, and possibly headache-inducing. To avoid headaches, says HelloDoctor, steer clear of paraffin candles that can release chemicals (though rarely, if ever, at a level that becomes toxic) that are easy to avoid. Instead, pick a beeswax candle or candles made from soy or coconut oil.

Good quality and natural ingredient-based candles are also more likely to use oil-based fragrances rather than nonorganic perfumes. It's hard to argue with the Oxford Academic mood mapping results that used EMG from a shoulder and neck tension Stroop test and found that, yes, indeed, fragrances reduced stress-induced muscle tension in the shoulder area.

However, if you are set on dodging scents, Drug Discovery Today reported a study from Lund University in Sweden that suggests even an unscented candle is a worthy addition to your morning kitchen island. According to the study, the theory is that salts and potassium from the candles (made of pure stearine, a natural fat) had a positive effect on heart rhythm regulation.

Whether scented or not, a cluster of candles on the kitchen island may be the most maintenance-free (just be sure never to leave lit candles unattended) kitchen home health hack to keep the winter blues at bay. We, early morning curmudgeons, will thank you for it.