Five Reasons Writing Is Good For You
You may think that the only people who write are emotional, artsy, creative types who have some source of inspiration completely foreign to you. I’m here to tell you that’s not true! Many successful, happy, and non-creative types write for all sorts of reasons. Writing your thoughts and feelings is an activity that can be helpful for thinking, expression, and boosting creativity, no matter what the inspiration stems from. By investing in a notebook and pen and giving yourself some time to jot down ideas, lists, stories, thoughts, appreciations, and goals, you could be well on your way to a clearer mind with better memory, more creativity, better ability to express yourself, and increased happiness. Read on to learn about the health benefits of writing, the psychological benefits of writing, and how writing can actually bring you more happiness.
- Writing Can Increase Happiness
While you may believe that writing can only help you in times of sadness or trauma, there are many instances where the psychological benefits of writing include increased happiness. For example, happiness writing, like putting your goals down on paper, can increase your sense of excitement and motivation. Additionally, writing about creative ideas, self-reflection, or even writing down funny things or inspirational quotes can help improve your mood, sense of well-being, and even decrease your stress levels. Jane Dutton and Gregory Ciotti found that when a people who were in charge of stressful fundraising activities wrote a journal about how they were making a difference, they actually upped their hourly effort by 29% over the following two weeks.
- Writing Can Be an Outlet
Much study has been done on the benefits of writing or journaling while going through a tough time or trying to deal with trauma. It seems that writing allows a personal outlet for people to process things in their own way. It also allows you to get things out of your head and onto paper, which can be cathartic in many ways. One study looking at the effects of writing on job loss and job search looked at engineers who had recently been laid off. They found that those who wrote their ideas and feelings down were actually able to get back on their feet and get a job faster than those who didn’t. When they checked back in with these engineers after 8 months, 52% of those who had used expressive writing as an outlet were employed again compared to only 19% of those in the control group. It seems that one of the advantages of writing, when used in a natural way (not coerced or mandated) can be helpful in processing challenges and the ability to move on. Writing thoughts and feelings can also be a way to manage anxiety or stress. By writing things down, you can come back later and identify what kinds of stressors or patterns affect your stress levels and can reflect on them more clearly. This is a great method of self reflection and care.
- Writing Can Help You Appreciate
One recent writing phenomenon that has been sweeping the mindfulness front is the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude practices have been shown to promote patience, compassion, and forgiveness along with appreciation of what a person has. Studies have shown that when people write about things they’re thankful for once a week or more (when it feels natural for them), they can take a different perspective on their lives. This brings into focus the good things that occur in life and can remind us that even on a bad day, not even close to everything is bad.
- Writing Can Help You Communicate
Both reading and writing can help strengthen your vocabulary and help you practice expressing yourself. Writing has been proven, in both emotional intelligence studies and the hard sciences to help people communicate even very complicated ideas. By writing your thoughts down on paper, you can see how what might have sounded very clear in your own head was actually convoluted and awkward. Writing forces us to organize thoughts in order to present them in a clear way.
- Writing Can Help You Learn
Numerous studies have shown that writing things down by hand can be a powerful tool to build up memory. Writing can also be a form of mental exercise, preventing you from losing skills that are very important to communication, even if they’re just in the texts or emails you send to your family. Not only can writing help to prevent you from forgetting things, or from losing all of those writing skills you used in school, it can also help you to learn about yourself. By writing things down about how you feel, your ideas, or your problems, you can clear up your mental chatter and then come back to it later with a fresh perspective. By writing down your thoughts and feelings you can learn about you!