First-hand experiences of the link between writing, wellbeing and mental health
Writing has done more for my mental health than many different techniques, therapies, and medications- and trust me, I've tried a few!
Writing is a potent tool to have in your health kit. Whether you're into journaling, poetry or storytelling- there are clear benefits provided that can improve your mental well-being. These are just five of the reasons I write.
Prevents knee-jerk reactions
You know those messages you get that just make your heart sink; butterflies churn in your gut and drain the blood from your head? Yeah, those ones. Taking a moment to write a response in my notes page on my phone helps me to immediately type out my knee-jerk reaction of name calling; anger and emotional overflow. I can then edit this, taking out the emotional reaction and replacing it with calm, collected, and logical responses. This ultimately helps prevent those horrible knee-jerk reactions that only make things worse and gives me a ch
ance to say everything I want to say and then say everything I need to say. I delete these after the fact, otherwise my notes app would be the most toxic place!
Processes difficult emotions
I struggle to speak about my emotions however, writing about them comes naturally to me. Seeing something on paper, or a screen, can help me evaluate what it is that I'm actually feeling and why. Often I feel anxious and don't know why, so writing about what has led me to an anxious state can help me process what has been a trigger and what I am worried about. Difficult emotions are the basis of most of my poetry too, I love the process of turning something so hard to speak about into something strangely beautiful.
It makes me more self-aware
I'm a pretty self-aware person, I think years of anxiety made me this way. I am aware of every word that passes my lips; every movement I make; every eye roll; every smile; every drop of sweat tickling my skin. I find writing about everyday occurrences I have helps me to understand that I'm probably (hopefully) not as cringe, irritating and embarrassing as I think I am. A way that I practice this is by writing about interactions I have with people from a third-person perspective. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times I have made a situatio
n awkward; dropped someone in it or embarrassed myself but writing about it helps me to process it, learn from it and move on. Also, getting it out onto paper even if it's never read by anyone, feels like a secret shared and therefore, a weight lifted.
Gives me purpose
I live to write, I do. I often think I should have been a romantisist poet, lounging around drinking wine, smoking opium and writing poetry about how awful the past is; how hard and isolating being a writer is and how much more respect we should have for nature. However, I'm not built for all of the hygiene issues; child labour; politics and general society of the Victorian Era. So I settle for being a writer in my spare room at home, with my dog at my feet and a nice cup of tea. Maybe a cheeky cigarette if I'm feeling the need to channel the inner writer. But in all seriousness, I feel best when I am creating. I love the process of writing a poem or writing a story- seeing one word develop into a sentence, into a page, into a full book it blows my mind I have the capability of doing this, and that's why I love it. I write about my emotions, about nature, about love and loss and the struggles we have as humans and that I feel is my purpose, to write and to encourage others to write too.
Improves my communication skills
No doubt about it, my communication skills are constantly evolving and this is because I write so much. I just think it's crazy that we can tell the tone of a message through the way it is written; I can tell when a friend isn't "speaking" normally or an email sounds a little abrupt- and we learn all of this through our everyday lives. Transferring these learned skills into a creative piece is so important: knowing how people speak when they are going through certain emotions; knowing how to address a reader so they know the tone of your story; and knowing when to stop and start.
In conclusion, writing has helped and continues to help me with my mental health through these mentioned ways and more. I will also come back to writing, and I think everyone can benefit from writing too. Whether it's in your notes page or a full paper journal- find what's comfortable to you and get scribbling. I hope this blog isn't too self-indulgent and that you've found it an interesting read! I'd love to hear about your experiences with
writing and wellbeing too.
This blog is all about my personal experience, and I am not discrediting any other form of therapy or MH treatment as everyone responds differently. It is my personal belief that writing, alongside medical treatment, can help improve mental well-being. Anyone suffering from mental health conditions should first reach out to medical professionals.