Everything’s worse when you’re stressed—including, as it turns out, the smell of the world around you. A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that when a person becomes stressed, their emotional and olfactory portions of the brain become linked, causing inoffensive smells to become offensive.
Scientists took MRI scans of study participants after showing them images designed to increase their anxiety, during which they exposed them to inoffensive odours. They were then asked to rate odours before being shown disturbing images, and then rate them afterwards. The majority had a more negative response after being stressed.
So, the next time everything seems a little worse when you’re under the gun, remember: it’s all in your head.