Writers are often so busy writing to please their audience. However, did you know that writing can be a therapy? Writing therapy can help develop critical thinking skills, self-awareness, and empathy. Methods of writing therapy include expressive writing, gratitude journaling, free writing, poetry writing, reflective writing, and letter writing. Within each of these methods is a key by which valuable knowledge of the self can be gained.
There is much evidence gathered from studies on expressive writing, a type of writing therapy where the participants write down their traumatic experiences, negative thoughts and feelings. Research has shown that expressive writing participants experienced decreased anxiety and reduced depression symptoms, improved lung function, reduced blood pressure, and increased immune system functioning. When participants wrote about trauma, and things that bothered them, they were able to miss fewer days of work, and were even able to find a job faster if they had recently became unemployed. It is theorized that through the act of writing about trauma, the associated emotions, thoughts, and experiences are finally being processed by the writer, and this leads to mental and physical healing. It is important that the writer allows themselves to find meaning in the trauma, and to experience all the associated emotions.
Gratitude journaling has been associated with a greater sense of well being, increased motivation, and better sleep. Writing about things that one is grateful for on a regular basis have been found to stimulate areas in the brain associated with moral cognition, value judgement, and theory of mind.
Poetry writing can bring together creativity and self expression for a therapeutic concoction. It can allow for a more metaphorical and/or philosophical approach. You can pour your heart out through poetry, which can help frame things into perspective in an artful way.
Free writing is structure-less writing where the writer can put down whatever may come up. When finished, the results can be revealing.
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, worried, and/or unable to sleep, why not pick up a notepad and a pen to try to work some things out? It may be 3am in the morning, and your therapist is not reachable. Or you may be getting jitters on your wedding day, and need to write things out for yourself. Writing therapy is portable, accessible, and affordable. When you write things down, you can help yourself to stop ruminating. The following infographic by The Expert Editor will show you some writing therapy methods.