Many of us love writing, but did you know that writing can be super beneficial to your health?
There’s a reason why your teachers probably made you write out all your notes while you were in school, and it wasn’t just to make your lives harder (at least, probably not). It’s because writing has a major impact on your brain and it helps you learn better. It fully engages your brain, relaxes you and inspires creativity.
When you physically write — not type on the computer — you retain information better and build motor memory. Because the act of writing takes more time than typing, it is also believed that it helps imprint memories. Besides being good for your brain in a learning sense, writing is also incredibly therapeutic and cathartic if you let it be.
Healing Through Writing
The act of writing may help your body heal faster — both emotionally and physically. Various studies have been conducted to examine how writing has helped wounds heal and how it has helped cancer patients improve their quality of life and think about their diagnosis differently.
Writing can also help patients with mental health issues because it allows them to get thoughts out of their head. This can be especially important if those thoughts are negative. Once the thoughts are on the page, the writer can take the time to figure out where they are coming from and ways to change them. Through writing therapy, they can be both the patient and the therapist.
The same can be said about writing about a traumatic or stressful event. At first, you may find it stressful and hard to write about the event, but if you keep working and have guidance from a professional, you may find that you feel better and have a better outlook about the situation and the future. If you put your experiences down on paper, it gives you a chance to look at the situation and work through what was upsetting and ways to cope with what happened.
Writing can also be useful for individuals who suffer from anxiety. Keeping track of how they are feeling, what happened before an anxiety attack and how they recovered from it could help them understand their triggers and find ways to stop anxiety before it occurs.
Obviously, writing is not a substitute for counseling. However, it can act as an excellent aid to treatment for many people and it’s definitely something to consider during times of distress.
Writing therapy can also be useful in addiction recovery. Addiction works in our brains by creating new paths and ways of thinking that make you believe you need whatever it is you’re addicted to, whether it’s alcohol or drugs. The act of writing creates new paths in the brain that can potentially assist you in overcoming your dependency and set you on the road to recovery.
While writing therapy may not be the ultimate answer to addiction and mental illness, it is a tool that allows patients to cope, and it’s something that can be done daily. The act of writing down something you are thankful for on a daily basis could increase your positive attitude and change your life views, as well as help you sleep better at night — and a good night’s sleep aids in healing.
There is no formal or strict way to accomplish the task of writing to heal, either. Grammar, spelling and punctuation don’t really matter because, more than likely, no one is going to see your work except you. Writing therapy is incredibly personal and private, so you don’t even really have to worry about making it readable. Write the way that makes you comfortable.
So, fellow writers — keep on doing what you’re doing, and if you haven’t yet, try writing to heal next time you’re feeling down. And for those who aren’t already taking advantage of the many benefits of writing — why not give it a try?