Did you know that writing is good for your health? I didn’t. I’m not necessarily talking about writing novels or poetry or even short stories but any kind of writing on a regular basis is good for us. It helps to lift our mood, lower our stress levels and decreases depressive symptoms.
This article suggests that writing gets things out of our system, particularly if we write about traumatic, stressful or emotional events. While not everyone will want to put that writing in public, some will incorporate these into novels or poems. For the majority of us, it is helpful if we write in a journal or diary. Diary writing seems to have gone out of vogue though where it was once very popular for many people to keep a regular diary. It’s something I associate with the days of Jane Austen rather than now. However, the popularity in personal blogging suggests that blogging is replacing personal diary writing.
It has been shown that writers participating in the research had fewer illnesses, spent less time in hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and better health in general.
It turns out writing can make physical wounds heal faster as well. In 2013, New Zealand researchers monitored the recovery of wounds from medically necessary biopsies on 49 healthy adults. The adults wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before the biopsy. Eleven days later, 76% of the group that wrote had fully healed. Fifty-eight percent of the control group had not recovered. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress.
By writing about an event, it can help us to deal with our emotions, to pour them out, to follow the expression ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, rather than continually thinking about that event and mulling it over in our minds. Once we write it down, a little bit of the trauma or stress leaves our bodies. The writing process helps our bodies and minds to heal and even improves our immunity.
One of my favourite personal blogs, one I read on a regular basis, dealt with the personal trauma of the loss of life. Her best friend’s son died after a long struggle (and a bone marrow transplant) with leukemia. My Thoughts on a Page wrote for herself, to pour out her distress and her grief. Only she would be able to answer if it helped or not but I think it did. The growth in personal blogging suggests that people do find it helps, even if they aren’t aware of the research or the science behind it.
Whether you write your thoughts and feelings on a scrap of paper, in a diary or journal, or perhaps in a blog, it is good to know that it not only helps to calm us but it also helps our physical health too. Do you write regularly and do you think it works to improve your health?
photo credit: Silvia Sala via photopincc