Writing Your Way To Good Mental Health

Expressive Writing can improve your overall well-being

Become your own therapist. Writing down your thoughts is more beneficial than you thought. 

 

John Evans, in his book "Write Yourself Well", tells us that expressive writing (EW) is the cornerstone of wellness and writing connections. But what exactly is Expressive Writing and how is that related to our wellness?

What is Expressive Writing?

Expressive Writing is personal and emotional writing without regard to punctuation, spelling and grammar. EW simply expresses what is on your mind and in your heart. E.W. pays attention to feelings than the events; memories, objects or people in the contents of a narrative. Often E.W. is turbulent, as it is about writing how you feel about what happened, or is happening.

How can Expressive Writing help?

We are told that you can hugely improve your health from writing. Writing can lead to a reduction in stress, better sleep, and improved relationships. Research shows that writing can also improve your overall psychological well-being, and assists in the management of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One of the benefits of writing is that it allows us to shift our perspectives and maintain this for a period of time - something that is harder to do when thinking or talking; however it can lead to incredible changes in how we see and understand a situation.

Become your own therapist

  1. Write for yourself: You may plan to destroy or hide what you are writing. Do not turn this exercise into a letter. This exercise is for you and your eyes only.
  2. Observe the Flip-out Rule: If you get into the writing and you feel that you cannot write about a certain event because it will push you over the edge, STOP writing.
  3. Expect heavy boots: Many people briefly feel a bit saddened or down after E.W., especially on the first day or two. Usually this feeling goes away completely in an hour or two.

4. In your writing Dr Pennebaker would like you to really let go and explore your deepest emotions and thoughts about a traumatic experience in your life. You might tie this into other parts of your life: your childhood, your      relationships with others, including your parents, lovers, friends, relatives and other important people to you.

5. You might link your writing to the future, or to who you have been, who you would like to be, or who you are now. 

6. Not everyone has a single trauma but all of us have had major conflicts or stressors and you can write about these as well. All your writing is confidential. There will be sharing of content.

Your results 

Give yourself some time after writing to reflect on what you have written and to be compassionate with yourself. Your may want to reflect on what you notice in your life, how you feel, and how you behave. Ask yourself: did anything surprising or unexpected come up in my writing? What new insights have I gained?

If you find that positive changes have occurred within yourself from this exercise, you might like to continue using Expressive Writing as a way of helping you make sense of your world.