Writing as Therapy: How Writing Can Improve Your Health (Infographic)
We often write to meet deadlines or because we have ambitions to become a published.
But how often do we write for the sheer pleasure of it? How often do we throw off the shackles of our own or others’ expectations and just write whatever we feel like writing?
But more importantly, what if we could see writing as an opportunity for self-reflection and contemplation rather than something we strive to show others? Imagine if it were a way for us to explore our emotions and our wellbeing, or a way to express thoughts that we may have been suppressing for a very long time.
It could just be the therapy we need in order to nourish and nurture our health.
We all know how good reading is for us, but much research has also been done into the benefits of therapeutic writing and how it can enhance our health. Having the freedom to write anything you feel like, whenever you feel like it, can be liberating and provide much needed stress-relief.
Therapeutic writing can take many different forms including journaling, poetry and letter writing. Maybe one style speaks to you more than another, but the main thing to remember is that there is no ‘right way’ to do it. There are no external constraints. You just write.
The infographic below not only shows you the different types of therapeutic writing, but it also highlights the many health benefits that it can produce. If done often, it can help to develop empathy, critical thinking, creativity and social skills. It can be done anywhere at any time and costs nothing.
So if you’re already aware of writing as a form of therapy or this is the first time you’ve encountered it, why not give it go and see the benefits for yourself?
Your health and wellbeing may benefit a lot from it.
Feeling low and depressed? Too much stress at work? Recently experienced emotional trauma and can’t seem to fight it?
You’re not alone – many people undergo such experiences – but how you try to combat them is key to ensuring your health and well-being in the long run.
While any form of art can be therapeutic as it allows you to confront your problems and gives you the tools to process your emotions, writing as a form of therapy has many benefits – both mental and physical.
For instance, it can reduce anxiety and depression in patients with maladaptive rumination or trauma related cognitions. Similarly, it can bring about an improvement in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and other such illnesses.
Let’s explore how writing can help you cope with complex feelings and work through a difficult healing process.
Writing Heals Your Body, Mind And Soul
Writing is manner of portraying your thoughts, feelings and emotions; simply put, there is no right or wrong answer – it is about writing from your heart with no length and time restrictions.
This is why many therapists and physiologists recommend writing as a form of therapy to their patients – for instance, noting down their day to day activities in a journal.
When you start writing, you create room for self-realization, better decision making and you are able to consider a different point of view. As such, you move from a ‘glass half empty’ standpoint to a more optimistic outlook and a positive frame of mind.
Advantages Of Writing Therapy
Writing therapy is a cost-effective medium that does wonders in getting you back to a stable state.
The key is to write from your heart – and the tools needed are readily accessible as you only require a pen and a paper. Compared to professional therapy, this costs next to nothing and you can write as and when you please.
In the process, you develop your skills as a writer plus you start understanding your reactions better. Eventually, you enter a phase of self-reflection and contemplation that allows you to explore and express suppressed emotions and thoughts.
Therapeutic Writing Practices
Here are several writing techniques to get you out of a depressed state:
No Holds Barred – Write As You Please
Writing freely allows you to showcase your creative skills – there is no limit to how much you write and how you express your thoughts.
As there is no theme or intended outcome – and you don’t need to worry about proofreading or grammar, free writing can be extremely cathartic.
Letters To Loved Ones
As a step towards a better path, you have to realize your mistakes and understand if your actions have knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone.
Letters are a good medium to let those people know how sorry you are because of your past behavior and how you may have done things differently, if given a chance.
You should also use this medium to write to your friends, family and other loved ones to strengthen your relationships – after all, a strong support system could certainly help you heal faster.
Have you considered writing your own lifebook? This is a great way to combine writing as therapy with a practical way to set life goals and actually achieve them.
Writing To Heal – Self Realization
Traumatic experiences can lead to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc., but writing about these is the best way to combat the memories.
In this form of writing, you start by revisiting the episode that caused trauma and write about it – this can be considered as breaking the silence.
The overall process helps you revisit your story, realize what’s done is in the past and helps you create a path towards a better future.
And expressive writing also has a number of physical benefits: it can lower blood pressure, make people more active, ease breathing issues for asthma patients, etc.
In fact, as per a study, HIV patients who took up writing produced higher CD4 lymphocyte cell counts – a cell responsible for restoring balance in the immune system.
Reflecting On Daily Proceedings
Keeping a daily journal can have a positive impact on one’s life – just take note of all your daily actions and go through them later.
People who keep a journal reflect on the choices they make and are able to see if they turned out to be good or bad. This reflective process trains you to think critically and make better decisions for the forseeable future.
An interesting fact is that reflective writing encourages empathy and directs people to be more sensitive towards different cultures.
Show Gratitude Towards People In Your Life
Gratitude journaling is another way to elevate self–realization by considering all the blessings in your life.
Rather than complaining about what you don’t have, show gratitude for the things you are blessed with.
With this form of writing, you can also show appreciation for the people who matter and how there will be a void in your life without them.
A Poetic Approach
Poetry writing is an excellent way for creative people to vent their feelings and emotions.
A few words can portray a powerful image which can be used to realize our innermost thoughts, feelings and emotions in a philosophical way.
Taking Everything Into Account
Writing as a therapeutic approach cleanses your mind from dark and depressing thoughts, and raises your confidence.
As such, it not only has an impact on your physical and mental state, but it can also encourage self-reflection, critical thinking and creativity. Ultimately, it can lead to a sense of empowerment and control over your life.