There are many benefits of writing in general and when it comes to supporting your mental health. If you experience anxiety or depression, writing can be an empowering way to connect with those emotions in a neutral space where you feel empowered to move in ways you otherwise couldn’t.
How does writing help with mental health?
One way you’ll benefit and heal when you write for mental health is the chance to ask yourself questions you otherwise may struggle to explore. Writing is a chance to figure out who you are in the most vulnerable sense. Whether you’re using your writing practice as a coping mechanism or a creative outlet in a stagnant world, there are many ways to benefit from writing.
Many types of writing can be therapeutic
The most excellent benefit of writing is that you can’t go about it the wrong way. There are so many ways to use words and writing to help you figure out who you really are at the heart of you. While there are many more types of writing, let’s explore a few of the most popular types of writing for mental health.
Hindsight is 20/20, and reflective writing offers it to us in spades. You’ll use words and perspective to help you move through your experiences and feelings to process them in new ways.
Writing reflectively may take the form of a daily journal practice or using a diary. Often, the distance from the event and a chance to revisit them without judgment is key in identifying the lessons we want to carry and what we can set down so that it doesn’t linger.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
— Anais Nin
More like court reporting than journeying through your emotions, writing down the habits and goals you keep can be an empowering tool. This form of writing is a regular practice in which you annotate the things you’re regularly doing to support your mental health.
Instead of a checklist, you’ll use brief notes to keep track of what you’ve done, how you went about it, and (if you’re feeling it) what the experience was like for you. Habit tracking is particularly useful for accessing the healing of writing if other methods haven’t worked well for you.
Taking space from the reality of your life to explore the wonder of imagination and possibility is an excellent way to access healing. When processing trauma, creating a story in which you retain complete control over the events and outcomes can be a powerfully positive experience.
Using storytelling formulas, you can craft the story you want for any purpose you need. Whether you’d like to explore an alternate life experience or process something painful, creative writing is accessible and imaginative. Bonus: you can’t get it wrong when you’re the architect of the entire experience!
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou
Poetry and songwriting
Some of the most memorable poems are byproducts of the writer’s healing. The formulaic but versatile formats available in prose are particularly alluring to some writers. Writing for poetic or instrumental value can double the impact of your writing as you begin to play with the lyrical shape of sound alongside it.
Poetry and songwriting hold unique healing value in the ways they invite a challenge for you to make a big impact through the shape of your thoughts and the use of words. Whether you put them to music or not, song lyrics can be similarly powerful in how they engage you with meaning as you intentionally fit words and thoughts together.
When you dip your toes into a sea of experiences, it’s easy to feel caught up in their current as they pull you in more deeply. Prompt writing can be an excellent way to engage with your own thoughts without getting caught in a riptide.
You can use prompts that start a sentence like “I was walking along the beach when…” or you can use experiential prompts that ask you to recall something through the prompt (ie- “When I last felt excitement,…”). Prompt or exercise-based writing releases the pressure of finding direction without inhibiting the flow of your thoughts once you get moving.
Let your words lead you
Writing is a journey unlike any other. Regardless of the form you choose or the practice you establish, writing will be a steadfast friend to you. It is a versatile and patient space to which you can return any time you need to take a breath from the world and ground yourself in words.
Be here; write now.
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”
— Ayn Rand
For writers in recovery or seeking support for substance abuse, Villa Kali Ma is here to support you.