Why should we write?
I won’t surprise you to know that we are massive advocates for writing here at Booksmith Academy. We love writing in all its forms and for all its purposes, but Kate in particular is passionate about using writing to heal and create a better life, but how?
As a journal therapist I know how beneficial it is to write, even just for a few minutes, every day, but you don’t have to take my word for it, there is plenty of research now. Back in the 1980s James W Pennebaker coined the phrase “expressive writing” which is what we most often refer to as journaling. Expressive writing is that form of writing where we sit down and we allow all our thoughts and feelings to pour out onto the paper. Writing about everything and anything until you can write no more, and even then I would argue you should keep writing.
This form of writing is proven to have benefits, not just for your mental health, but also your physical health. I think most people are aware that when we write things down we are more likely to remember them, which means writing improves your memory. Most people also appreciate that if they allow themselves to write about an upsetting or annoying situation then it helps them to process how they are feeling, and feel a little calmer. But the benefits are much more wide ranging than you might realise.
For example, did you know that writing for just 5-10 minutes a day is proven to lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety and depression? It’s true, writing calms you down, lowers your cortisol levels and has a profound effect on your mental health.
It is helpful for people with PTSD and other psychological challenges. It improves your overall wellbeing, improves emotional intelligence and can even make you feel more confident.
Benefits of writing
This is just the tip of the iceberg though. Have a look at all these proven benefits of writing every day:
- Reduces stress
- Regulates emotions
- Improves memory
- Boosts confidence
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improved immunity resulting in fewer trips to the doctor
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves lung function and helps asthma sufferers
- Helps liver function
- Shorter hospital stays
- Reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Benefits for those with chronic pelvic pain
- Benefits for anyone living with cancer
- Helps anger management issues
- Supports grief recovery
- Bones and open wounds heal quicker
- and much more…
How do you have to write to get these benefits?
Of course you aren’t going to experience these benefits by writing your to do list or a shopping list every day. The key is to really tap into your emotions and allow yourself to be completely honest and even a little vulnerable in what and how you write.
Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, don’t fret if your writing is illegible. The process is all about allowing your mind to release all the things that it has been holding on to. You never have to read what you have written back, and you certainly don’t ever have to show it to anyone else, unless you would like to.
Just write whatever it is that needs to be written, and when you reach a point when you think you have written everything you need to, I urge you to keep writing.
Even if you have to write: “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write” for a few lines until something else pops into your head. Most of the time, the things which appear on the paper after you think you have written everything you need to, are the most important. This is the point when the magic happens.
Give it a go and see what happens, you might surprise yourself. Start with a writing prompt like: The thing I need to remember most today is… and see what appears on the paper. You could do the same prompt every single day and write something completely different most days.
Have I convinced you yet?
Throughout my life I have used writing in many forms to help myself process all manner of emotions. I started as child writing letters to pen friends. I would empty out my heart onto the page and tell them all the things that were happening to me and how I felt about it. As I got older I kept a journal and wrote everything in there. There is no doubt that writing has got me through some of the hardest times in my life. I cannot encourage you to start writing enough. The benefits of writing regularly are proven and apart from anything else, it is a wonderful act of self care to add to your routine. Taking 10 minutes to write in your journal while you have your morning cuppa is a wonderful start to the day. Alternatively, you might take a few minutes in the evening before you go to bed to allow all your thoughts frmo the day out so that you are able to sleep better. Have a play with when and where you write and see what you learn about yourself. You won’t regret it, I promise!
If you enjoy writing and want to learn more about the benefits of writing as well as discovering how to write your first non-fiction book, why not look at joining THE BOOK FORGE?