Writing improves mental health

Writing improves mental health

Have you ever felt better after writing your thoughts in a journal or letter? If so, this is because writing improves mental health. Let's find out why!

Writing improves mental health

Last update: 23 September, 2021

After many centuries and the testimonies of so many suffering people, we can say that writing improves mental health. And, of course, science has wanted to verify this in many different ways.

The different forms of writing, in fact, have proved to be effective in improving self-esteem, self-control and eliminating stress. For these reasons, writing is an activity often used in therapy.

Today we present the results of research on the phenomenon and its influence during the therapeutic path. If you are thinking of starting writing, by reading this article you can find out which writing is right for you.

Evidence that writing improves mental health

Many studies show that writing improves mental health. However, on the reasons for this, experts differ on a few points:

  • Considering that encapsulating / repressing emotions can cause psychological distress, writing is an escape for people who have this habit.
  • Others argue that improving self-awareness would be the underlying process of writing. Lthe therapeutic aspect would therefore be to become aware of oneself rather than revealing repressed feelings.

The theory of emotional self-awareness is the predominant one. Using writing and directing attention inward, you can become more aware of your traits, behaviors, feelings, beliefs, values ​​and motivations.

All of this promotes self-confidence and allows you to develop a feeling of empathy towards other individuals who suffer like them.

Self-awareness as the goal of writing

It was demonstrated that writing catalyzes cognitive processes such as rumination, worry or hyper-vigilance. Writing your worries on a piece of paper prevents the cognitive process from becoming cyclical, increasing the chances of finding a solution.

However, self-awareness is a spectrum and can only be improved with practice. Writing is within everyone's reach, as an activity that can be done almost anytime and anywhere. As is rereading what has been written and which can give us a new point of view after the catharsis.

Types of therapeutic writing

To optimize the benefits of writing, the ideal is to carry out structured activities aimed at solving the problem you are suffering from. To do this, there are three main types of writing styles:

  • Expressive writing. It is often used in therapeutic contexts where the goal is to write down thoughts and feelings about a stressful event. This type of writing promotes the emotional processing of difficult situations, especially in cases of depression, anxiety and chronic stress.
  • Reflective writing. It is typical in professional environments, often in professions with a strong emotional charge: doctors, psychologists, social workers, etc. Through reflective writing, one can evaluate one's beliefs and actions, learn, evolve and improve open-mindedness.
  • Creative writing. This type of writing includes the use of imagination and memory. Through resources such as mental images or metaphors, abstract ideas about thoughts, feelings or beliefs can be conveyed. It is very useful for children or for people who have difficulty expressing their ideas or experiences directly.

It should be noted that it is not necessary to possess special skills in writing. Writing improves mental health through the psychological process of self-disclosure.

Writing improves mental health, but it's not for everyone

Although self-awareness is the first step in identifying, processing and solving problems, writing is not a useful tool for everyone.

Also important is a person's attitude towards disclosing their moods on a piece of paper. For example, if there are reservations, the effect on self-esteem or stress reduction is reduced.

A study published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine indicates a direct relationship between the activation of the immune system and the tendency to divulge information on paper about a traumatic or stressful event. Men who were hostile and cynical about this task showed increased cytotoxicity of their NK cells.

Writing can improve mental health, but it's not a panacea. It usually works, but let's not forget that it is in the right therapeutic setting where it takes on its true meaning. So, the first thing to do, in any case, is to consult a specialist.

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