Writing for Better Health

Journalling

Writing is a great way to cope with complex situations and emotions. When we write about events that deeply affect us that is called expressive writing. Expressive writing has been associated with improved liver and lung function along with lower blood pressure. Your style of writing depends on what you want to change and how you want to grow with it. Your writing can either start with “Dear Diary” or “Dear Mom”. Writing to others has been linked with reduction in social anxiety.

WRITING FOR YOURSELF OR JOURNALLING

Sometimes the best way to express yourself is to write for your eyes only. You can write with the pen in a notebook, or you can write on your computer. Journalling is defined as an activity that is done in private where you are allowed to express your emotions, being complex or simple and safe place where you can connect with yourself and be in tune with your thoughts. Journalling increases self-awareness and helps us become mindful of our thought process. We can easily express our frustrations in a journal without the fear of being judged. If we feel confused in our life or if we simply want to have more balanced emotions, it may be helpful to start journalling every morning for 20 minutes. That way we can write about our feelings and expectations, and after we are finished we will feel more calm and in tune with ourselves.

Writing has many positive aspects on our thoughts and emotions and research has found that expressive writing when done on a regular basis may help in improved social skills, better mood and brighter working memory. Also, regular writing has been associated with improved physical function as per article that published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. In a conclusion, journalling was associated with stress reduction and contributed to a stronger immune system along with improved circulatory function, better quality of sleep and decrease in respiratory issues.

As a way to meditate and become more aware of your body, expressive writing has been found to help people with various health problems. That being said, writing in a journal offers us more value than mental and physical health benefits. Reviewing  your journal entries either immediately after writing or after a period of time has passed may help us gain better perspective and understanding of certain events and situations.  With better perspective and understanding we also gain a wisdom that comes with it. If you are in pain or having self doubts, writing on a piece of paper can result in decreased emotional pain and anger as we are working through those feelings and gaining more positive outlook on the event, ourselves and life in general. Personal growth happens when we break through the cycle of negative emotions and self-talk and when we explore different approaches to life. We develop patience through writing as it takes time and discipline to expressively write on a regular basis. Through this process we become mindful of our self-awareness.

Even if you think that you are that good at writing, journalling is extremely helpful as it is private and no one else can see it. With that, you can release your emotions and whatever you feel in your heart you can put into words.  You may have issues or secrets that you are avoiding to confront. When writing to yourself you are free of other people’s judgement with regards to the grammar or the content of your writing. You can write about your emotions or the way you see things without fear of being judged or frowned upon. Expressive writing or scribblings that you write are intended only for you, so you shouldn’t concern yourself with the quality of your writing.

If you are unsure how to start your journal, in a notebook start with the date of your entry and revisiting the events from the day before. If you don’t feel like writing about the past events, focus on your emotions instead and describe your feelings at the moment. Write why you feel this way and what changes you would like to occur in your life. What dreams do you have and what steps are you planning to take in order to get there? Write your stories as well, both monumental or mundane. This strategy has been used with many great writers like Virginia Wolf.

 

WRITING TO OTHERS

Writing letters to other people that express gratitude, affection and kindness may have great health-boosting effects in addition to lowering cholesterol levels. In two separate studies on three separate occasions, college students wrote about their affection for their friends, partners, and family members for just 20 minutes. A control group wrote about unremarkable events and topics instead. By the end of the five week trial period, those that wrote about content that was charged emotionally and that they felt passionate about reported a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels.

If you don’t know where to start, consider investing some time and effort into writing individual messages to your special friends and family that would meaningfully express how you feel about them. Put your shyness away and write freely about what they mean to you and what positive feelings they bring to your life. A study that included more than 400 people found that those who felt more gratitude and weren’t afraid to talk about it experienced better quality and longer sleep as well as having decreased dysfunctional moments during their daytime. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, you may invest some time into writing a holiday greetings or birthday card instead.

It is suggested that when writing to others you should do that before bedtime or at least think about what you want to say in your letter. Research has found that having mindful and positive thoughts filled with gratitude just before falling asleep improves quality and duration of sleep time.

There’s an entire movement that consists of strangers writing letters and sending them to one another in order to express kindness and encouragement. If you feel like contributing to a good cause not just during holidays but any day of the year check out moreloveletters.com to get involved.  According to a new research conducted in Canada, when performing acts of kindness even for strangers, not necessarily face to face, you may curb your anxiety away and feel like having less desire to avoid social interaction. This can be especially important during birthday parties, family gatherings, or even business events that you can’t avoid.

Whatever your final goal is here: whether you want to understand yourself or others a little bit more, or just offer random act of kindness and nice words to others, consider writing a little bit more. Not just for your own benefit but also for the benefit of others. Each written word will bring change to your life for the better.

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