5 years ago · Leah Fogt · Comments Off on Write it down!
Do you write in a journal or diary? Expressive writing is a habit many people enjoy on a regular basis, and this is a strategy that many counselors and therapists recommend. There are lots of reasons why writing could help improve your quality of life, so it might be something you want to consider!
When we write, we experience our thoughts in a different way that if we are simply thinking or even talking. Different parts of the brain are engaged to translate our ideas into written words and sentences, so writing allows us to observe our thoughts in a different way – as well as gain insight and perspective. Many people also enjoy the idea of expressing feelings in an external way – when we write we can “empty out” our emotions or “unload our feelings”, taking them out of ourselves and placing them somewhere separate, bringing relief from emotional distress, pain, or worry.
Studies suggest a number of physical and emotional benefits that come from expressive writing:
- Decreased distress
- Healthier immune system
- Healthier blood pressure, lung functioning, and liver functioning
- Improved mood
- Feeling of well-being
- Reduced depression
- Better work attendance
- Improved working memory
- Improved performance in sports
- Better grades in school
- Improved social skills
Follow this link if you’re interested in learning more about some of these studies. http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full
If you are interested in starting a journal and you’re not sure how to begin, here are some suggestions:
- Make a routine. Set aside a certain time each day or a few times a week to devote to writing. Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to write.
- Find a good place to write. A quiet room with a comfortable writing surface, minimal distractions, and some creature comforts (i.e. a cup of tea, scented candle, comfortable chair).
- Keep your writing all in one place – a notebook, bound journal, or computer file. You may want to make sure you store carefully if you’re concerned about privacy.
- Let go! Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or handwriting. This is not about creating a prize winning piece of literature! This is about self-expression and self-discovery.
- Experiment with genres. Try different kinds of writing like poetry, short stories, stream of consciousness, lists, or even play writing.
- If you have writer’s block, don’t quit. Just write whatever goes through your mind, even if it is “I don’t know what to write about today.”
- Give yourself extra time to settle down after you write if you experience intense emotions like anger, rage, fear, or sadness.
Categories: Skills and Resources