I love the use of simple rituals to prep for work and creative projects.  Some add clear, physical benefits, while others simply provide a psychological anchor.

Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or drinking a special drink, it’s helpful to establish a simple ritual that is both pleasurable and effective.  These are also little pleasures that help make your immediate experience and overall life a work of art. Here’s a very simple ritual you can try that takes seconds and very little preparation: simply inhale the scent of rosemary.

The reason?

Recent research shows that the scent of rosemary may improve speed and accuracy during mental tasks.

Get the effect by taking a whiff of fresh rosemary or essential oil at the start of your day or before beginning a project.  Rosemary has a pungent pine scent that’s also great for seasoning.  Consider buying fresh rosemary and keeping a small bowl near your work space. You can use it again later by incorporating it into your meals for a healthy and tasty boost or by drinking it as a tea.

The Evidence:

Twenty people performed cognitive tasks (such as subtraction and processing new information) before and after smelling rosemary. Researchers measured their blood levels for 1,8 cineole (rosemary’s main chemical component) after the experiment, and found that higher levels correlated with better speed and accuracy. This study was published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.

My experience:

I recently purchased some rosemary, so I could try this out for myself and just now took a few deep breaths with it.  I found it very soothing and pleasant, although it wasn’t soothing in a relaxing way, the way that smelling lavender is. The study did not find it to increase alertness, but there is definitely something energizing, clarifying, and inspiring about it.

Well, no there are no real cognitive tasks for me to do today (Sunday), but I will be using the rosemary as aromatherapy at the start of my day for the rest of the week, and will update if I notice any significant changes.

Leave a comment below if you have found the scent of rosemary to be helpful or if you have an aromatherapy or essential oil ritual to share.

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