When you look at it from another perspective, the writing process is magical. It allows us to materialize our thoughts and share them with other people. It’s a way of communication where you have all the time in the world to think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
Still, what many people forget is that writing can also have incredible benefits for your mental health and emotional well-being. In this article, we’re looking at some of the ways you can use writing and journaling to organize your scattered thoughts and feel more like yourself.
1. It’s scientifically proven to ease depression and anxiety symptoms
Multiple studies have proven that writing and journaling can help people who are struggling with depression and anxiety. Particularly, writing is effective as a way of silencing ruminating thoughts and getting “out of your head”. For people who are preoccupied with their symptoms, that is the exact thing they need. This is why writing therapy is now commonly used among psychologists and mental health workers.
2. Your journal can become like a trusted friend
A conversation with a trusted friend works wonders for mental health and stability. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s perfectly normal to feel like you don’t have many people to talk to. Of course, most people have family and friends, but due to the stigmatization of mental illness, many feel like they can’t share what they are actually feeling.
3. You practice open, 100% honest communication
When you really start to open up and start writing down things that you really think and feel, you will be surprised by the power of that emotion. Throughout our lives, many of us learn to suppress some of our thoughts and beliefs to conform to society and our surroundings. This goes so deep that you can even start lying to yourself.
4. You’re more in touch with your feelings and thoughts
Just like we’ve previously said, many of us learned, through life, to push some of our negative feelings down and purposely ignore some of our thoughts. However, when we ignore something or bottle it inside, it’s destined to explode. Laying out all your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper is a great way to relieve some of that pressure.
5. You will have lower stress levels
There are many causes of stress, but one of the main prerequisites of stress building up in your body and mind is the feeling of inflated panic and danger. For example, you might feel like you’re trapped in a dead-end job or unhappy in your relationship. However, when you look at the situation from a bird’s eye view, which is something writing will allow you to do, you’ll see that the situation is actually quite different.
Big job or academic workload can stress us out and make us feel like we don’t have time to do anything else. If you’re overwhelmed with university tasks, check out these great websites for students that can help you take some of the load off.
6. Reap the benefits of regular, powerful habits
In his bestseller Atomic Habits, author James Clear talks about his experiences with building tiny habits and marginal changes that have colossal effects in the long run. Writing is a great example of an atomic habit. From one day to the next, maybe you won’t feel a huge change or effect from writing and journaling, but after a couple of weeks and months, you’ll start feeling its transformative power.
Journaling and other writing activities really have the potential to change your life and behaviour on an atomic level. You will learn that you can do anything every day for a short amount of time and become progressively better at it.
7. Reprogram your mind from negative thinking and bias
Some mental health coaches like to say “fear is a liar”. This goes for your negative self-talk as well. It seems hard to accept and even believe, but a lot of thoughts that go through your head and harm your mental health are actually lies. These lies are built on cognitive biases – the human tendency to perceive a situation irrationally.
For example, if you miss your bus because you’re 5 minutes late, you’re not an “irresponsible idiot”. If your partner leaves you, you won’t be “alone for the rest of your life”. These are just some of the tricks the negative part of our mind can play on us. Writing, on the other hand, helps tremendously to see these patterns and to look at things more objectively and realistically.
8. Build self-confidence
If you ask any psychologist or mental health expert about the first step to building a solid mental health foundation, they will advise you to work on your self-confidence. This term has become a bit over-used in the last couple of decades, but it actually implies a type of a stoic approach to life and problems that’s built on satisfaction with your identity.
Self-confidence also has a lot to do with your control and the level of trust you have towards yourself. Self-confident people are more likely to achieve long-term goals, have better impulse control and have much healthier relationships (both romantic and beyond).
Writing helps build self-confidence by re-connecting you with that part of yourself that knows how to control its thoughts, behaviours and ultimately, outcomes in life. It reminds you that you’re a person who can adapt to anything and overcome and adversity.
Writing has a myriad of benefits, even if you don’t do it regularly. However, if you start building a writing habit, even if it’s just 5 minutes every day, you will quickly start noticing its immense transformative power. Writing builds positive thinking skills and will teach you how to approach each of your life’s issues in an objective and calm way. You will have lower levels of stress and higher satisfaction with your career, relationships, and emotional state.
Daniela McVicker is a psychologist and family counselor. She is also a freelance writer and a contributor to Essayguard. Her passion is writing about leading a healthy family life and helping people enjoy their lives to the fullest.