Writing or talking about emotional experience is often encouraged in many cultures, especially in the past decade. It is a healthy way of confronting deeply personal issues, and many times have shown a positive impact on physical health and subjective well-being. No less than 200 studies suggest that writing has a beneficial effect on mental health. Christina Thatcher a Creative Writing Lecturer from Metropolitan University wrote in a blog post of The Conversation on how writing can improve mental health. Here is what she has to say.
Many people prefer not to openly discuss emotion, primarily because of risks of a breach of confidentiality that can lead to bottling up, which can cause psychological distress. And writing about emotions is the safest, confidential, and free way to prevent those emotions from choking.
But the researchers now believe that self-awareness instead of simply divulging emotions can’t improve mental health. So, in short, self-awareness is the key. Which is the ability to turn attention towards one’s self. By inward attention, one becomes better aware of one’s characters, attitude, behavior, feelings, motivations, etc. that leads to a boost in confidence, acceptance of other, improved personal and professional life, and better decision making due to self-control.
Expressive writing is proven to enhance self-awareness while combating depression as it is focused on narrating stressful thoughts, feelings, or events, which are otherwise difficult to process or discuss. Secondly, reflective writing allows a person to assess or reassess certain beliefs or actions, for learning and development. This type of writing requires self-question and answering so the person can become open, curious, and more analytical, thereby enhancing self-awareness. Lastly, Creative writing like those used in poems, stories, and novels, etc. can offer a unique way to identify and explore thoughts, emotions, ideas by employing imaginations, and memory. This type of writing is best used in the expression of grief or condolence which are otherwise difficult to communicate. This mode of writing leads to increased self-awareness.
Since self-awareness is vital for good mental health, so writing can be the easiest and simplest method to stimulate it. She encourages us to start writing about feelings, both recent and old, like those during the pandemics, or difficult work situations or;
“Think about the ways your home reveals the moment we are currently in. Is your pantry packed with flour? Do you have new objects or pets in your home to stave off loneliness or boredom? What you can see from your window that reveals something about this historic moment?” said Christina Thatcher.
It is never too late, so give yourself a good beginning by start writing about your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and believes even for as little as 15 minutes every day. This could lead to a major boost in self-realization, and then self-awareness can improve your mental health.
Mental health, creative writing, writing, self-awareness, depression, anxiety, sadness, stress.