Writing has mental health benefits and can do wonders for your health. Beyond keeping your creative juices flowing—regular writing can give you a safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of your daily life. Not only does regular writing make you feel good, it helps you re-live the events you experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress. In fact, there’s so much data about the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that as counselors, social workers, and therapists often encourage their patients to do it. This study from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment is a great experiment, and a solid summary of current research on the topic.
In the piece, the researchers noted that 15–20 minutes on 3–5 occasions was enough to help the study participants deal with traumatic, stressful, or otherwise emotional events.
It’s been specifically effective in people with severe illnesses, like cancer, for example. In fact, the practice is so well regarded, there’s a Center for Journal Therapy dedicated to the mental health benefits of regular journaling, both in therapeutic and personal settings. It’s not just what you write about though. How you write plays a role as well. This University of Iowa study showed that journaling about stressful events helped participants deal with the events they experienced. The key, however, was to focus on what you were thinking and feeling as opposed to your emotions alone. In short, you get the best benefits of journaling when you’re telling your personal story, not just writing about your feelings on their own. It’s a great example of how telling your own personal story can make a huge difference in your well being.
The University of Texas at Austin psychologist andContinue Reading