Looking to naturally support your psychological health and overall wellbeing? Today I’ll take a close look at the many health benefits of creativity and suggest some herbal favorites for relaxation and cognition.
In our culture we tend to think of creativity as a special personality trait—something we’re born with, the domain of a chosen few. But we ALL have creative potential and what’s more? Creative expression is essential to our wellbeing.
Research in recent years has demonstrated the health benefits of engaging in creative activity. Studies show that creative expression helps us in several ways:
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Reduces stress response; this alone is invaluable because prolonged stress (seemingly a regular feature of modern life) can lead to a number of undesirable health outcomes including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, digestive dysfunction.
Reduces anxiety and depressive feelings and increases positive emotions
Enhances immune function.
Improves cognitive function and can prevent or delay cognitive decline in our later years
Learn more about the research on creativity and wellbeing overall at this Medical News Today article and creativity and psychological wellbeing at this American Psychological Association article.
Most studies have focused on performing and visual arts, and writing as modes of creativity. These are all fabulous, and we can also include activities like sewing, knitting, gardening and crafting of all sorts. So many possibilities!
What is the role of herbs in supporting our creative endeavors?
We can look first to the nootropic herbs— herbs that enhance learning, memory and other cognitive processes that we engage when we’re creating. And, to help us let go of anxiety and tension so we can more easily relax into a creative state of mind we can turn to relaxing nervine herbs. Some herbs that come to mind are:
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Most of us are familiar with rosemary as a culinary herb that tastes great and improves digestion. Rosemary also improves memory and concentration and can protect our brains from the effects of aging.
Lavender (Lavendula spp) – Widely used in cosmetics for its fragrance, Lavender can be beneficial in wound healing and in fungal infections. It also relieves anxiety and is relaxing and uplifting.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is an amazingly versatile herb. In the Ayurvedic tradition it is considered a rasayana – a substance that revitalizes body, mind and spirit. Gotu kola has many beneficial properties, including enhancing cognitive function and soothing anxiety. Learn more about gotu kola at The Journey Inward, Pt 2, by Herbalist Jayne Tamberello.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) has many uses, perhaps most famously as a reproductive tonic and aphrodisiac. It also has a long history of use as a nerve tonic and to relieve stress and anxiety. Damiana is a favorite for relaxing and letting go of tension.
To enjoy the benefits of rosemary and lavender, add a pinch to your favorite herbal tea or mix them with other fragrant herbs like rose petals and enjoy as potpourri.
For a Relaxing Tea combine:
1 tablespoon gotu kola
1 tablespoon damiana
1 teaspoon orange peelInfuse, covered, in 1-2 cups just boiled water for 15 minutes and strain.
Relax, enjoy and get creative!
The post “Creativity + Herbs = your happy nervous system” originally appeared on Ask The Herbalists blog May 31 2018
Renata Lynn is a clinical herbalist in Greenbelt, MD who helps women build a solid foundation of wellness while working in partnership to address their unique health concerns, so they can live life with vibrance and vitality. Sign up for her newsletter here and receive your free copy of Five Herbs to Increase Energy and Restore Vitality .