Writing our thoughts down or maintaining a journal can be hugely therapeutic. There are also many other benefits to our mental health as shared here by our guest, Brenda Berg, who is a consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs at Oxessays. Brenda believes that constant learning is the only way to success and shares her ‘writings’ at Let’s Go And Learn!
Studies have shown that there are significant mental health benefits to writing and journaling. One article, recently published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment found a handful of 15-minute sessions helped people deal with traumatic experiences. Writing and journaling can help release trauma, heal using narrative medicine, be therapeutic, and help someone remember the positive things. Writing to-do lists can help alleviate stress and make your day more manageable, and so can turning to a community for help.
Journaling is a great way to bring emotions, that we’re experiencing, out into the open and express them. In the same way, journaling can bring trauma out into the open, so it can be dealt with properly.
In one study, fifty students were asked to journal for four consecutive days. One group was asked to write about traumatic past events, while the other wrote about trivial matters. The researchers measured their participants’ immune system functioning and found those who had written about past trauma showed a better improvement.
Another study found women with substance use disorders who had experienced trauma showed a greater reduction in symptoms when they wrote expressively. Writing guides such as State of Writing and Via Writing can help you to start and find ideas for your express writing.
Narrative medicine is a healing strategy that uses a person’s experiences, or narrative, as a way to heal. Narrative medicine promotes trust and empathy between clients and therapists. The closer and more trusting these two people are, the more potential there is for healing to occur. Narrative medicine is a growing field and is recognised in major institutions and facilities, including Columbia University and Memorial Sloan Kettering.
I struggled for a long time with more traditional healing practices and my recovery was stalled. But I found that telling my story to my therapist allowed us to establish enough trust to really start working through my trauma. My narrative writing became the start of what would become the path of my life and my career. – James Metzinger, writer at Academized
Writing as Therapy
Writing can be therapeutic for teens and children as well. Creative writing can be a good outlet for them to express feelings that are too hard or frightening to communicate out loud. It’s common for teens to feel there are certain things they are expected to say in therapy, but creative writing allows them to avoid this trap in thinking. Studies have shown that teens who wrote about their emotional and social problems experienced improved stress levels compared to the ones who wrote about general things. There are other creative outlets such as dance, music, and artwork that can also be therapeutic.
Remembering the Positives
Expressing gratitude can be very good for your mental health. One study had three groups write about positive things, negative things, and neutral things. The group that wrote about positive things they were grateful for, scored higher in measures of wellness. Each night, write about the things you are grateful for and consider exchanging a list with a friend. Try to think of a specific event you are especially thankful for and go into as much detail as possible.
Writing To-Do Lists
Life can be stressful. Sometimes it can feel like you have a thousand things to do. According to a goals research study, writing to-do lists every night before bed reduces your stress levels and you’re more inclined to achieve your goals. Creating a to-do list can help organise your thoughts by putting down on paper a list of tasks to complete the next day.
One of the great things about getting into the habit of writing and journaling is the communities you will discover. Becoming part of a community, gives you the opportunity to discuss everything surrounding the process and is important for your mental health, especially if feeling isolated. It enables you to connect with people who have had similar experiences and you can share your experiences with them if you feel comfortable. Many people find it therapeutic to work through their problems with others, rather than by themselves.
Modern life can feel very hectic and stressful, so it can seem hard to find time to sit down and write. However, the mental health benefits of writing and journaling are numerous so taking a few minutes each day to put some thoughts down can benefit us greatly. Writing is a good way to release trauma, works as therapy, and helps you remember the positive things you experienced. Telling your story through a narrative is a great way to heal and writing it down is the best way to organise your narrative.