Writing is so commonplace in many of our daily lives that it is easy to forget about the significant benefits that thoughtful, intentional journaling can have. You don’t need to be a professional to obtain the positive outcomes associated with writing; all you need is something to write with, and the time to make it happen.
Writing as a Stress Management Technique
Writing or journaling can be extremely effective in combatting a range of issues, including those related to stress and mental health. By simply engaging the brain in writing down thoughts and feelings for a given period of time, it allows the individual the opportunity to make emotional connections, draw parallels to significant developments, process thoughts and emotions, and discover feelings and associations that can be related to emotional or stressful events and/or traumas (similar to talk therapy).
How Can Writing Help?
If you stop and envision what a “writer” might look like, you likely pull from imagery that is irrelevant to you; someone focused intently on their laptop in a café, or someone seated in front of a typewriter, possibly frustrated, or frantically typing away.
In reality, practicing writing or journaling is much simpler than this, and is acknowledged as being necessary for all people in order for the brain to reach its full potential. In fact, the simple act of writing can make you happier and more resilient, both at work and in your personal life. You can use a pen and paper, a laptop, a tablet, or whatever other tools you deem to be appropriate at that moment. The act of putting your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and emotions onto paper can help you to process and has numerous physical and emotional benefits, including:
Those who practice effective writing and journaling often cite elevated moods and reduced negativity. This is owing to the fact that writing provides you with an outlet to release emotions and work through negative feelings and moods in a constructive way. Expressive writing in particular, or the act of writing down feelings and emotions, has been demonstrated to result in improved well-being and reduced stress levels.
Organizing Your Thoughts
Journaling or writing provides an opportunity to organize the thoughts and feelings you are having in one place, which may help you to make connections or make sense of a particularly chaotic moment, day, or series of emotions. Writing things down on paper may also help you more easily determine and organize solutions and enhance your problem-solving abilities.
Working Through Tough Memories
If you’re holding onto traumatic or difficult memories that continue to cause you pain, writing or journaling can help you begin to work through them by releasing emotions and engaging both hemispheres of the brain. Writing about the feelings you have and attempting to determine why you have them can greatly assist in dealing with the trauma and accepting the outcomes experienced.
As a Preventive Measure
Writing or journaling can be an effective means of enhancing your self-awareness and thus, can augment your understanding of how and why you may react to a situation in a certain way. By developing a higher level of self-awareness, you may be able to more quickly recognize when you’re feeling a certain way and prevent yourself from reacting negatively.
Types of Writing
There are many types of writing that you can benefit from depending on what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Some of the more popular forms of writing include:
Gratitude journaling involves writing and acknowledging things, emotions, goals, and more within one’s life that the individual is grateful for. It has been demonstrated to increase happiness and improve moods, while also making the good things that were acknowledged feel more noticeable and important to the person.
Writing about your emotions can be an effective means of processing through your feelings. Taking the time to acknowledge both the good and the bad can help you to learn to reframe your experiences more positively and effectively manage stress. Emotional journaling involves writing about the emotions associated with your daily experiences and looking at them critically and constructively in a manner that helps you to more effectively cope with daily stressors and events.
Journaling helps to keep your mind clear by processing your thoughts as they happen. It is no wonder then that many successful people partake in a daily planning writing ritual.
Keeping an agenda or journal of your daily goals and tasks can help to keep you organized and reduce stress by decluttering your thoughts. Daily planning through writing is a great way to keep yourself on track and set yourself up for success.
Creative writing involves writing that expresses creative thought, processes, ideas, or stories. Creative writing builds a range of skills for practitioners, including problem-solving abilities, self-expression, the ability to take constructive criticism, and more. Practicing regular creative writing is a great way to build your writing abilities while working through thoughts, emotions, and concepts through the proxy of character development and storytelling.
Tips to Get Started
Getting into a practice of writing or journaling as a means of enhancing your mental health is easy. For those just beginning to incorporate journaling and writing, start simple:
Use a Pen and Paper
Using a pen and paper is an easy and effective means to get started with journaling. Find a quiet place that is free from distractions and immerse yourself in the physical act of bringing your pen to the paper.
Set a Timer
Allow yourself to fully focus on your writing by setting a timer for the amount of time that you have allotted to the practice. This will give you the peace of mind that you will complete the task within the time constraints that you have, allowing you to fully focus.
Use Writing Prompts
To avoid wasting your allotted writing time on writer’s block, have some writing prompts prepared. The Center for Journal Therapy recommends using the acronym WRITE, meaning:
W- What do you want to write about
R- Review/reflect on that topic
I- Investigate your feelings on the topic
T- Time yourself to give adequate time to focus on the topic, and
E- Exit the topic
Create an Enjoyable and Constructive Writing Practice Today
Writing is an easy and effective means of processing through your emotions and enhancing your ability to be resilient and grateful in your day to day life. Don’t cheat yourself from the benefits of introspection. Incorporate journaling into your daily routine and it just may change your life.
If you find yourself still struggling, we have expert professionals just a couple of clicks away.