A hobby leads to a book about the benefits of beauty on emotional and cognitive function
For Suzanne Faith, oshibana — pressed flower art — is more than just a lifelong hobby for which she’s gained international acclaim. She has spent the last 20 years researching the links between flowers and creativity to brain health and our overall well-being.
Faith’s new book, Flowering Your Mind: How to Engage Your Brain in Healthy, Exciting New Ways, offers practical and fun ways to use flowers as a creative tool to relieve tension, brighten your mood, heal or renew your spirit, and even fight dementia.
Faith, a registered nurse and certified dementia professional, manages Cape Cod Healthcare’s Dementia and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support program. For more than 30 years, she has developed dementia-based curriculums to teach professional and family caregivers how to care for those with some form of cognitive impairment.
The idea for the book came about through her notoriety as a pressed flower artist in Asia, where oshibana is more popular and common than in the U.S. Faith has been a member of the International Pressed Flower Art Society for more than two decades. She has earned numerous awards and been asked to teach internationally, gaining recognition for incorporating pen and ink drawings with flowers grown and pressed from her garden on the Cape.
In 2000, a company in Japan asked her to develop a book based on research showing that flowers increase circulation in the brain.
“I told them I couldn’t write the book because, as a healthcare professional, I needed to understand the science behind those claims,” Faith said. “So, for years, I reviewed the research studies and discovered that it’s not pressed flowers, it’s the actual flower—whether it is painted, or in your garden or in a silk bouquet - that provides the positive imagery which stimulates the positive endorphins circulating in your brain.”
It is now evident that the brain’s response to the beauty of flowers can actually improve emotional health and cognitive function, especially when combined with some form of creative expression, she said. She explained that flowers, like hearts, have no negative connotations.
“Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing number of stress-related disorders, dementia, and aging baby boomers, perhaps the benefits of adding flowers and a bit of creativity to one’s life holds at least one of the keys to maintaining a healthy, stimulated brain,” Faith said.
Dedicated to Dementia Support
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—the ability to think, remember, problem-solve or reason—to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, and the numbers are growing in the U.S. and worldwide, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Dementia at all levels can be extremely difficult for those with cognitive impairment and their families. Faith has an incredible amount of hands-on experience using creative activities to decrease anxiety and stress in the individuals with whom she works.
She knows her book can help individuals with dementia and their caregivers, but it is written for a much broader audience.
“Individuals of all ages can easily apply the things they learn in Flowering Your Mind. You don’t have to be dealing with cognitive impairment to benefit from the book; that’s not the focus,” Faith said. “It’s a book about how incorporating flowers and a bit of creativity into life can do wonders to improve your mental health and stimulate brain function.”
Guided by exceptionally intricate, beautiful examples of Faith’s art, Flowering Your Mind teaches readers how to incorporate flowers into their life. They will also learn how gardening, flower arranging, and many other creative floral-related activities can bring renewed health.
The prescription for enjoying a positive sense of well-being is easy to follow, and Faith writes in such a way as to calm and totally de-stress readers. Perhaps that’s the intersection of nursing and writing; Faith gently guides the reader through Flowering Your Mind with the soothing, self-assured guidance she offers to her clients and their families.
The book is available on Amazon and other retailers in both electronic and hard-copy format.