Mind Over Medicine {Creativity and Health}


"I could help even more people by discovering the truth about how to help people heal themselves."


I've been following Lissa Rankin's blog off and on for awhile now. What really attracted me to her at first was how much I could resonate with both her experience and her perspective about life and healing.

Not to mention that she is both an artist and a doctor who reached a complete unraveling pivot point in her relationship with the healing profession, when she took a real close look at her own core values and wisdom. She saw how the healthcare framework of our culture made no space for honoring those values, took her as far away from them as possible, and left her with no energy to nurture them in her personal life.

My fractured nurse's heart has found her words to be inspiring, poignant and validating. And the artist in me loves the way she creatively envisions a new model for healthcare and talks about it so boldly.

Last week I got her new book, Mind Over Medicine. I'm not done with it yet, but it is rocking the world of my artist~healer's heart. She has put together a compilation of research from medical sources that validates the power of our mind to have physiological effect on our body, and the power of our body to heal itself when we nurture our core values and needs, and choose to live a wholehearted, holistic lifestyle.

This is not new stuff, per se - but she is taking an angle and approach that is getting through to the 'right' people, and that is accessible to the masses.

I've been telling this stuff to my nursing and herbalism students for years (and anyone else that will listen) - based on what I witnessed as a nurse and what I intuitively know and have experienced to be true. But Lissa's done the gritty research (and cites it all). And it's fascinating.

I want you to know just how creativity can effect your physiological health, in case you've wondered.

If you walk away with nothing else, know this: creative expression plays a fundamental role in alleviating stress, tension & anxiety, thus affecting all aspects of your life.

See, stress is a key player in the progression of all disease pathways, and chronic stress significantly hinders healing. Our culture is in an epidemic of unnecessary chronic stress response, despite being privileged. To reduce stress, make creativity a priority in your time, even if that means choosing a simpler lifestyle. Isn't your very life - your health and relationships, well-being and experience - worth it?

I believe it is. I know it must be for you to thrive and shine like you were meant to. That's why I'm just so passionate about using creativity as a mode of healing to help women alleviate the unnecessary stress response in their lives, realign with their unique core values and build strong self-esteem and connections.

Though creativity is not the core focus of her book, this is what Lissa Rankin, MD, has to say about it, which can begin to give you a glimpse at the vast implications:

"It may seem peripheral to you to mention creativity as a factor in your health. Who ever heard of prescribing a hobby as preventative medicine or treatment for a disease? But scientific evidence shows that creative expression can elicit relaxation responses that counterbalance stress responses...    Whatever you do, flexing your creative muscles is as important to overall health and happiness as is flexing your biceps. The link between creativity and health has been well established, so anything that allows you to be more creative in your life benefits the physiology of your body and mind. Creative expression releases endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters, reduces depression and anxiety, improves your immune function, relieves physical pain, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby lowering your heart rate, decreasing your blood pressure, slowing down your breathing, and lowering cortisol.    Health benefits of creative expression include improved sleep, better overall health, fewer doctor visits, less use of medication, and fewer vision problems. Creativity decreases symptoms of distress and improves quality of life for women; it strengthens positive feelings, alleviates distress, and helps clarify existential and spiritual issues; it lowers the risk of Alzheimer's disease, reduces anxiety, and improves mood, social functioning and self-esteem.    When we unleash the creative process, we tap into subconscious processes that help us heal - and thrive. Expressing yourself creatively exercises the right side of your brain, and doing so not only affects the body - it affects your emotional state, leading to greater happiness.... it's a well-documented phenomenon that happy people are more likely to be healthy.    ...that's just how creativity affects the individual! Creativity also affects your work life, your relationships, your sexuality, your spirituality, and your mental health. As art therapist Marti Hand teaches, expressing yourself creatively also promotes social peace by enhancing compassion, tolerance, kindness, harmony, expansion, growth, collaboration, respect, and healing. Even seemingly unrelated benefits may arise as the result of expressing yourself creatively, such as improved fertility.    While your creative life can be a potent source of physiological relaxation, it can also be a stressor if you're feeling creatively thwarted. One of my patients had been writing a novel in her head for years, but because she was so busy at work, her novel went unwritten. Every day she felt stressed about the fact that she might die one day without ever writing her book. Creativity only heals if you make the time to prioritize it." (from Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, MD)