Writing encourages and provides an opportunity to reflect on past experiences, connect with them in a different way, and think critically about ideas and situations.
Write it Out
When writing, people use their left brain, the analytical and rational side of the brain, leaving the right brain free to create, intuit and feel. This can remove any mental blocks and allow you to better understand your own thoughts, feelings and emotions; it also enables you to better understand others and the world around you.
There are no set rules for journaling, but writing for 20 minutes a day is suggested for beginners. Write wherever you feel comfortable, and do not worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar – that can be fixed later, if needed. What is important is maintaining the continuous writing flow and using it to better understand your emotions.
According to James Pennebaker, a psychologist and researcher on the power of writing and journaling for healing purposes, regular journaling can strengthen immune cells, known as T lymphocytes, and offer physical benefits to people battling terminal or life-threatening diseases.
Pennebaker has also found that writing about stressful events or painful emotions can help a person come to terms with those events and release the intensity of those feelings. This can alleviate the impact that those stressors have on physical health and allow people to be more present in the moment.
Emotional writing or journaling can also:
- Increase self-esteem
- Improve anxiety and anger
- Ease depression
- Relieve pain severity
- Lower blood pressure
- Promote spiritual awareness
- Decrease symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
All of these health benefits have been seen across cultures and age groups.
According to Pennebaker, no single theory or theoretical perspective can explain how or why journaling enhances a person’s health. Expressive writing occurs on multiple levels – cognitive, emotional, social and biological – making a single explanatory theory unlikely.
Initially, some people may find that writing triggers distress and physical or emotional arousal, and not all people will work through that distress therapeutically or through continued writing. But there is evidence that the nature of a person’s writing is key to its health effects. According to one study, people who relive upsetting events without focusing on their meaning reported poorer health than those who derived meaning from their writing. In other words, focused thoughts, as well as focused emotions, are important to experience the benefits of writing.
Expressing yourself poetically can also be a healing process, as it allows for self-expression not otherwise experienced in everyday words.
So Let’s get to writing,
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: www.nlm.nih.gov