A New Study Finds That Writing Promotes Better Health
I never thought that all of the writing I do every day would help me get healthier both physically and mentally. At a young age I began to journal, writing about a recent crush or my hopes for the future.
I never dreamed back then that one day there’d be a study where researchers would discover that expressive writing for 15 to 20 minutes, three to five times a week over a four-month period, could help with mood, stress and depression.
That’s great news for all of us!
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin suggests that writing and expressing your feelings and stress can actually boost immune functioning in some patients with illnesses.
It’s not yet clear why this happens, but what researchers do know is that venting your emotions through writing is a very effective way toward healing.
It should also be noted that for people who are unable to use their hands to write or type, talking into a tape recorder is also effective. Researchers believe that, “The curative mechanism appears to be relief of the stress that exacerbates disease.”
Repressing our anger and frustrations, say the researchers, and holding on to any negative thoughts can compromise immune functioning. Those who write, they say, visit the doctor less.
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health.” ~James W. Pennebaker, Researcher, University of Texas at Austin.
After reading this encouraging study I reached out to my personal cognitive health guru, Ruth Curran of Cranium Crunches, and asked her to comment on all of this. As you may remember from a previous article I wrote for MultipleSclerosis.net, Ruth suffered from a traumatic brain injury. To regain her cognitive abilities she decided to get a Master’s in Cognitive Psychology that eventually led her to developing puzzles to help people achieve better brain health.
“Writing heals in a variety of ways. It allows you to process your thoughts and gives you perspective. Writing also helps you signal the release of all kinds of nourishing chemicals. There is research that shows that thinking about a sensory or emotional event will light up the same areas in your brain as when you are actually having that experience. That level of engagement triggers chemical and electrical activity and keeps those pathways open.
Add the physical aspects of writing that sends signals to move your fingers; reading, analyzing and correcting as you go; and activating that whole host of memories and associations that you must tap to pull out the right word, make it grammatical, and consider your audience.” ~Ruth Curran
So what do you say? Do you feel like writing? It doesn’t have to be the next great novel, or even make much sense. As long as you write or talk out your feelings you may start feeling a little (or a lot) better. Now that’s something to write about!
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