Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
I am sure many of you are aware of the importance of putting things in writing. Writing important things down not only documents events but allows material to reflect as well. In over 200 studies, researchers have found that writing about one’s pains and woes helps to improve their mental health.
There are different theories as to how writing actually improves mental health but there is no doubt that writing definitely has a positive impact. Understanding that bottling up emotions only leads to more distress and an essential emotional eruption, it is logical that writing may offer a safe and confidential way to release thoughts and feelings that are bottled inside.
In another take on writing, researchers have found that in addition to disclosing emotions, writing increases one’s self-awareness to specific issues. This process allows one to turn their attention inward and focus on their own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, values, and motivations. Self-awareness stretches across a broad spectrum and offers many personal benefits. Becoming more self-aware helps to build our confidence and to be more accepting of others. Self-awareness may also lead to job satisfaction, better relationships, and improved decision-making skills. Increased self-awareness ultimately decreases depressive symptoms, anxiety, and irrational thoughts. Writing about something positive for as little as two minutes per day has been shown to reduce the number of health complaints and improves mental well-being.
There are several styles of writing:
Expressive Writing – most widely used in therapeutic settings where people are asked to write about their thoughts and feelings. This type of writing is typically used in helping to process something emotionally difficult.
Reflective Writing – this style of writing allows people the opportunity to assess their beliefs and actions specifically for reflection, learning, and development. When practicing reflective writing, one may ask themselves questions and continuously be open in writing their own responses. It is very useful in increasing self-awareness and learning from one’s own experiences.
Creative Writing – any style of writing where one uses his/her/their imagination and creativity is considered creative writing. Poems, song lyrics, short stories, novels are all types of creative writing and most often uses metaphors and imagery to express meaning. This style is useful in writing creatively about an issue that you may find difficulty to say directly.
Spending about 15-20 minutes writing each day may give you an opportunity to significantly increase your self-awareness and lead to your improved mental well-being.
Angela M. Powell, Ph.D., LPC-S, CSC
Dr. Angela M. Powell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Progressive Counseling & Consulting, LLC., specializing in youth trauma, anxiety, and depression.