Exploring the Benefits of Writing for Mental Health and Wellbeing

The healing touch of writing

From helping people overcome problems like stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and substance abuse, to giving a new perspective on life, writing can heal holistically.

Writing is an age-old practice that has long been forgotten in the 21st century. People have stopped keeping journals and writing diaries, which used to be a literary tradition at one time. With the advent of ever-evolving technology, however, such as smartphones and the internet, one rarely writes, to the extent that people can’t even think of anything to write if asked to.

When confronted with such a situation, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on,” says American writer Louis L’Amour. When words begin to flow, they also bring with them the medicine for your physical and mental wellbeing. Countless experts from around the globe prescribe writing for its therapeutic powers. From helping people overcome problems like traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and substance abuse, to giving a new perspective on life, writing can heal holistically.

You can approach writing through five ways—write letters to yourself, write letters to others, pen a poem, free writing or journaling, and mind mapping. Freewriting or journaling is jotting down every thought that comes to mind, while mind mapping is creating mind maps, with your problem in the middle, surrounded by different aspects of your problem such as interpersonal relationships, career, etc. Based on prompts and exercises, expressive or therapeutic writing (writing therapy) can be beneficial, comforting and helpful. Soulveda takes a look at the therapeutic nature of writing and what it means for you and your life.

Increases self-awareness

Writing can help you discover aspects about yourself that you otherwise did not know existed. The free flow of thoughts, apart from being cathartic, is also a creative instrument to discover the root cause of your emotional stress. The experience, sometimes, involves analysing events, memories, thoughts, feelings, and perspectives, giving them meaning through writing. In the long run, such self-awareness contributes to personal growth and mental wellbeing. Writing is “speaking to another consciousness—‘the reader’ or another part of the self. We come to know who we really are in the present moment,” says Elizabeth Sullivan, a San Francisco-based counsellor, in an interview with PsychCentral.

Gives perspective

Ever imagined, how Stephen King comes out with such alluring and unique novels every single time? He has perspectives, to see things in a new light, and so can you. Writing essays or simply jotting down your thoughts freely can help you find a new perspective or a viewpoint. When you view things from a new perspective, you begin to find silver linings for the problematic issues you are faced with.

wellbeing and happiness

Writing about something positive or a subject you love can lead to spiritual wellbeing and happiness.

Helps you learn and grasp things better

Writing can help you learn and grasp things better. The very act involves an exchange of signals between the hands and the brain. This helps in building motor memory which, in turn, enables you to retain information in an efficient way.

Acts as an outlet for anger and frustrations  

Writing can help you let off steam. When you write your expectations and disappointments, it enables you to vent your anger and frustration and find solutions to overcome the problems. It even helps you prioritise your challenges, fears, and concerns, and address them one by one.

Leads to spiritual wellbeing

The therapeutic touch of writing can help you find spiritual fulfilment. When you write, the mind, body, and spirit come together to produce a joyful and uplifting experience. As you delve deeper into a conversation with yourself, you start feeling anew. Your whole emotional state can change when you write something positive or on a subject you like.

Writing Therapy

Writing Therapy will not only heal your physical wounds faster, but it will also help you find a meaning and a purpose in life.

Heals your body and mind

Expressive writing or journaling can help you heal your body. A study titled, Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing states, “lung functioning in asthma, disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis, pain and physical health in cancer, immune response in HIV infection, hospitalisations for cystic fibrosis, pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain, sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers, and post-operative course are a few medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing programmes.” The heaps of benefits that come from writing is not limited to physical wellness but extends into mental wellbeing as well. Good mood, mindfulness, controlled stress levels, and reduced depressive symptoms are all linked with writing.

Makes you more expressive

Like painting, music, and photography, writing is an art that can be the voice of your emotions and thoughts. Penning your thoughts down can help you become more expressive. If you are struggling at work or your relationship is going through a rough patch, you can choose writing as a medium to express your feelings.

When it comes to writing, taking the first step is always the toughest. However, as poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” So, the best way to begin is to just dump your thoughts on a piece of paper, without paying much heed to sentences, grammar, syntax or style. Gradually, get into the discipline of writing everyday—whether it’s a letter, a poem or a short story. Writing cannot replace psychological therapy, but it can act as an enhancer. Even some of the most prolific authors, such as Haruki Murakami, spend a few hours at their desk to write daily, even if they don’t like doing so. In the long run, such a repetitive exercise becomes a “contemplative, even meditative act,” says Murakami.


How can writing help with emotional healing?

Writing can facilitate emotional healing by providing a cathartic outlet for expressing thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Can writing help in overcoming mental health challenges?

Yes, writing has been found to be beneficial in overcoming mental health challenges. It provides a therapeutic means of processing emotions, gaining perspective, and finding new insights and coping strategies.

How does writing contribute to self-awareness?

Writing allows individuals to explore their thoughts, memories, perspectives, and emotions, leading to increased self-awareness.


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