How Writing Relieves Stress

>> Wednesday, July 27, 2011

by Jennifer Bell

Stress is an unfortunate fact of life that everyone will suffer from at some point. However, many individuals are much more susceptible to stress and also suffer from it more frequently. There are many alternatives and treatments that are quite effective at reducing stress, but one of the most overlooked, and easiest, is through the simple act of writing.

Writing can be a therapeutic process with several very distinct advantages, including calming nervous energy and focusing attention that tends to run wild during stressful situations. These two aspects alone are often enough to gain the perspective needed to at least deal with the problems causing the stress, if not come up with an effective solution for them. Writing does not mean an elaborate novella of life's challenges. The style or grammatical correctness of the writing is not pertinent, only that the emotions, stressful situations and responses are documented honestly and thoroughly.

Stress Release Through Writing
The act of writing enables people to deal with many different problems and in alternative ways. Writing forces the mind to focus on the information at hand and also engages both sides of the brain. This is very important, as the inability to focus is often the catalyst that enables a stressful situation to spiral out of control. Focusing all of the brain's energy, both the left and right hemispheres, through analytical and creative activities at the same time, is one of the secrets to stress-relief through writing. The process of forming words, translating situations into text and visualizing events all work to calm and focus the nervous energy that stress fosters.

Journals and Diaries
Writing is extremely beneficial for dealing with stress, but when the writings are kept in an ongoing journal or diary, they are even more effective. Journals and diaries are almost like having a private therapist on call, with advantages like being a source of release and the fact that journals can be revisited time and again for help with future situations. Two keys to keeping an effective journal are honesty and recording all aspects, such as how problems were solved, not just what caused a stressful situation.

Journals can also help with one of the biggest problems that plague individuals suffering from stress, identifying the problem. Many individuals deal with excessive stress daily, without actually knowing what the problem is. This often manifests as outbursts, unintentional behaviors and even withdrawal or depression. Documenting when and where these behaviors happen, as well as who or what was involved, is often the key to discovering the real, underlying problems. The benefits of writing can be far-reaching and dramatic for just about anyone that employs them. Even if it only consists of jotting down some keywords and phrases, the effects and benefits of writing, when one is stressed or frustrated, can be profound.

This guest article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training GuideCheck out her site to learn more about occupational health and safety specialist training and other exciting health careers.


Anonymous,  6:21 AM  

I agree. You know, when I was laid off my job, the next day I started writing a novel. Now, I'm not sure it'll ever see the light of day with any agent or editor, but still. I wrote like crazy, poured my everything into this, and it helped. Gave me focus in what would have been a structure-less day since I'd lost my job. And it was an outlet.

Autumn Jordon 5:39 PM  

So true. Recently a Ruby sister suggested I read The Artist Way. I'm just on week one, mind you, but writing my morning pages has helped me toss the bad baggage to the side and be able to focus on what is truly rewarding.

Great post, Joan!

Joan Swan 6:45 PM  

Lynn, I too see my writing as an outlet. My day job is very stressful (too stressful) and as Stephanie Rowe says, diving into my story is so absorbing and satisfying.

Joan Swan 6:45 PM  

Autumn, I love the Artist's Way. I want to get back to it and go through the steps again, although I have to admit, those morning pages were...ugh. I was never good at the consistency of them.

Jennifer Bell 10:33 AM  

Hello Everyone!

I guess we all agree that writing can be some sort of therapy. :)

Thanks for posting this Joan!

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