5 Benefits of Writing for Mental Health
My name is Talasi Guerra and I am a mental health blogger. Let me clarify that—I am not a mental health professional. Rather, I am an average, every day person who is navigating the ins and outs of life with mental illness.
I have struggled with mental illness for most of my life. Obsessions started at a very young age, and by the time I was fourteen, I had developed an eating disorder. For the next number of years, I was tormented by depression, anxiety, and addictions, until finally, at age 21, I started to make some genuine progress towards recovery.
Since that time, nearly ten years ago, it has been an uphill battle. Fortunately, I have experienced many great successes along the way. Writing has been an essential part of my mental health recovery at every stage. And while I am so thankful for all of the professionals and treatment programs that have helped me over the years, I truly believe that writing has been the main catalyst for positive change in my life. So today I would like to share with you five reasons that I believe writing to be extremely beneficial for mental health.
- Writing encourages self-reflection.
Dealing with mental illness can be a very isolating and numbing experience. It can be hard to talk about, or even think about, the emotions that mental illness produces in your life. Writing through these struggles is such a healthy option because it causes you to reflect on what is really going on in your heart and mind at any given moment. Using writing as an outlet of self-reflection can help you pinpoint the root of your challenges so that you can later address them.
- Writing promotes rational thought.
If you struggle with mental illness, chances are you are plagued by a bevy of irrational thoughts on a daily basis. But the good news is that writing literally promotes rational thinking. While your irrational thoughts reside in your amygdala (the part of your brain that powers your “fight or flight” response in stressful situations), writing requires you to use a different part of your brain—the part that promotes calm, logical thinking! So you can think of writing as a weapon that actually combats your mental illness for you!
- Writing alleviates anxiety.
The result of using writing to promote rational thinking is simple: it alleviates anxiety! Because writing forces your thoughts into the logical portion of your brain, it allows you to see more clearly so that you can identify the source(s) of your anxiety. When you recognize your triggers, symptoms, and emotions, you can evaluate your experience by looking at the facts. Writing these things down this will help you to realize that you are not in life-threatening danger, as your amygdala would have you believe. It will allow you to breath a sigh of relief, reducing your anxiety!
- Writing generates revelation.
The easiest things to write about are the things in life that you have experienced personally. And as you write about your experience, it opens up the bigger picture that you were not able to see in the heat of the moment. Writing through your mental health journey allows for amazing moments of personal revelation that may never happen otherwise!
- Writing kindles a sense of accomplishment.
Mental illness causes you to constantly question your own value and worth. Chances are, if you are in the middle of a mental health battle, you probably deal with feelings of failure every single day. It’s important to include some activities in your life that can give you a sense of accomplishment. Writing is a great way to do so. To write anything—a journal entry, a poem, a blog post, a prayer, a memoir, etc.—is a great accomplishment. Completing it will remind you that you can achieve great things when you don’t give up.
Have you ever used writing to improve your mental health? Have you found it effective? If so, what would you add to this list?
Talasi Guerra is a mental health blogger at braverthanbefore.com. She is also the Director of Children and Family Ministries and Graphic Designer at First Baptist Church in Lloydminster, Canada. She loves to travel, play strategy board games, and create! Follow Talasi on twitter @talasiguerra