Today’s post is a guest post from Chris Napa from A.T. Cross Company, LLC. Chris couldn’t have reached out to me at a better time. As I’m gearing up for my wedding, it was a true blessing to have a such a wonderfully written and helpful post that I could share with you.
In today’s post, Chris is sharing the benefits of writing and how it can impact your life in a favorable way. I’ll introduce Chris and then let him take over.
Chris Napa serves as the Global Ecommerce Experience Manager for A.T. Cross Company, LLC. Chris oversees the customer experience on Cross.com from the Providence, RI headquarters. Before joining A.T. Cross Company, LLC., Chris was the User Experience Lead at FootJoy, part of the initial team that launched their Ecommerce site in 2016, and the Ecommerce Project Manager at TaylorMade Golf Company. When not thinking about enhancing customer’s online experiences, Chris can be found cycling, golfing, or bowling.
6 Ways Writing Positively Affects Your Psyche
There’s a seemingly endless list of ways that writing can affect one’s overall health and well-being, from self-improvement work to dealing with trauma. Maybe you want to write because you have a story to tell, because you want to work on your rusty longhand or because you want a good excuse to start collecting luxury pens. These are as good of reasons as any, but you just might find that once you pick up the pen, you’ll start soaking up some additional, unexpected benefits along the way. Here are a few ways writing can positively affect your psyche.
1). It Can Make You Happier
Achieving happiness is the reason why many of us pick up new hobbies, but journaling may be one that leaves a lasting, positive impression on the mood. How? Studies show that visual journaling — coupling writing with sketching and imagery using art supplies, pens and paper — helped to reduce levels of stress, anxiety and negative feelings of notoriously stressed-out medical students. Other studies indicate that regularly writing in an expressive manner can help treat prolonged depression and sadness.
If your goal is to hone your writing skills as a way to boost your spirits and mood, consider visual journaling, expressive journaling or seeing a mental health professional who uses writing exercises during behavioral therapy. One thing to note is that, while studies do indicate that writing has a positive overall effect on mood, many people experience feelings of sadness, longing or anger in the minutes or hours following the exercise, though they do tend to experience a mood lift that lingers once those feelings subside.
2). It Can Help You Grieve
Whether you’re mourning the loss of a loved one or are going through a particularly soul-sucking breakup, keeping writing in your grief management toolkit is a good idea. Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a preeminent researcher on writing and mental health and a pioneer in writing therapy, has published studies indicating that writing exercises can help people cope with trauma. Writing exercises allow us to sit back and process emotions we may have otherwise ignored or pushed to the side, he says.
To get started with grief-focused writing therapy, try writing in an expressive manner for 15 to 30 minutes a day for a week or as long as you feel that the exercise is providing a positive outcome. Be prepared to experience a rush of overwhelming emotions — putting it all on the page has the tendency to open the floodgates, especially if you’ve been bottling up your grief. Allow yourself to cry or experience sadness, as this can lead to healthy long-term coping.
3). It Can Help You Get to Know Yourself
It seems obvious, but writing about the self is an excellent tool for self-exploration. Even keeping lists helps you recognize and visualize things that are important to you and the way that you deal with tough or unpleasant tasks. In fact, experts recommend employing writing exercises anytime you have to make a particularly tough decision. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that writing can help people make decisions critically and confidently. The authors of the study say that writing and explanation can boost our ability to comprehend ourselves and others, which can help us get closer to ourselves.
4). It Can Help Resolve Disagreement
There’s simply no getting around it: People who have good conflict resolution skills are also good communicators, and writing helps bolster communication skills. Therapists, mediators and even judges often prescribe writing exercises to their subjects in conflict, whether they be divorced couples, quarreling parents or youngsters struggling to find the right words to express negative or difficult emotions. This is often done through stream-of-consciousness journaling, letter-writing and making lists.
The primary benefit of using writing as a tool to express anger or dissatisfaction with another person is that it forces you to sit down and think things through rather than sling emotionally charged language at your opponent. A good exercise that everyone should have in their conflict resolution toolkit is to pause when things escalate, take a break and write down your feelings. When you return to the issue, you’ll feel calmer and will have a reference in front of you so that you can slowly, carefully express yourself.
5). It Can Make You More Productive
When you’re feeling organized and on top of things, you feel happier and more equipped to handle challenges and stressors that inevitably come your way. Writing with bullet journaling and other writing exercises holds you accountable for things you’ve committed to, helps ensure that you never miss an engagement and keeps you ahead of the curve at work and self-improvement-wise. Expressive journaling can also help you recognize what’s most important to you so that you prioritize better and become more productive in the process.
Added Bonuses and Benefits
One of the focuses of researcher Dr. Pennebaker’s work is the correlation between writing and physical health. In addition to the many aforementioned mental health benefits, Pennebaker and his contemporaries believe that writing can also positively affect the body. He and other psychologists in the field together found that writing can improve immune functioning and even help treat HIV/AIDS, arthritis and asthma. The authors cite a decrease in stress and unhappiness as the reason for the boost — if patients are happier, they’ll show fewer negative health symptoms.
No matter whether you’re looking for a way to feel better emotionally or physically, writing is one of the best tools to have in your arsenal. When properly deployed, it can be used as a weapon to slash stress, anxiety, depression, grief, conflict, self-doubt, laziness, despondency and maybe even physical ailments. The best part is that you need almost nothing to start besides a pen or a pencil and a piece of paper. Happy writing!