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Writing And Wellness: How to Boost Your Wellbeing with the Power of Words

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Explore the connection between writing and wellness and learn how the power of words can improve your mental health


Blog title 'writing and wellness' and image of Heather Grant Writer with a cup of cofee

What comes to mind when you think of ‘wellness’? A healthy meal and a yoga mat? Dumbbells and supplements? What about a pen and paper?


For many people, their relationship with writing ends when they leave school, an so it’s easy to overlook the impact that words can have on our mental and emotional well-being. However, the truth is that writing can be a powerful tool for promoting wellness in many areas of your life.


Whether it's daily journaling, gratitude lists, or creative expression, the act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) can have transformative effects. This has been backed up by more than 200 studies, and something i've experienced myself


In this article, I explore connection between writing and wellness. Read on to uncover the various ways in which the power of words can be harnessed to enhance your well-being.


How writing can improve your wellness



woman writing in a notepad and typing on a laptop at the same time


Here are 5 benefits of writing for wellbeing that I’ve experienced myself, and you can experience too,


Where I say ‘see strategies’, I'm referring to the following section, where you can see practical ways to yield the specific benefits of writing and wellness.


1.  Reflection and insight

 


grey background with brown text


Being a human is complex and confusing. There’s no denying it. Whether it’s an influx of media stories, intense conversations, big joys, stressful tasks, or tough decisions, we’re constantly absorbing so much information.

 

Writing is a way to filter through everything you take on throughout the day. By reflecting on your experiences (and your thoughts and feelings about them) you’re forced to slow down and process them.

 

That way, the negative moments don’t get buried inside, waiting to re-surface whenever they please, in whatever form they please. Studies back this up, showing that writing can help improve resilience to trauma, decreasing depressive symptoms, anxious thoughts, and perceived stress.  

 

On the flip side, reflecting on positive moments ensures they don’t get brushed over, forgotten, or overshadowed. Jotting down positive memories acts as a ‘souvenir’, so you can savour them and return to it whenever you need. It also helps you gain insight into the things that light you up, so you can include more of them in your life.

 

See strategies: daily journaling, therapeutic journaling, gratitude lists

 

2. Visualisation and self-belief



runner with prosthetic leg


Many scientists believe that the brain can’t tell fact from fiction, and so your imagination has the power to create mental effects similar to the real event.

 

For example, an athlete visualising winning a race will feel a similar feeling of confidence and excitement to actually winning, which has been found to improve their performance in their next race.

 

This is the reason many people create vision boards of the things they want to manifest in their lives; to cultivate the feelings of having these things, matching their energetic vibration. It’s about creating real feelings that shape your real life. 

 

If, like me, you’re someone who responds emotionally to books (fiction and non-fiction) and inspirational quotes, writing can be an alternative way of visualising success and instilling self-belief. You can write freely about a ‘not yet happened’ scene in your life, in such great detail you start to get excited about it.

 

Remember, you’re both the author and the main character of your story – grab your pen and paper and write yourself an amazing plot!

 

See strategies: ‘time travel’ writing, stream-of-consciousness writing

 


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3.   Self-confidence

 

The topic of writing and wellness often revolves around private diaries, for no one’s eyes by their own. But writing that’s meant to be shared can be beneficial too. It’s a way to build confidence, by expressing your authentic self and challenging your fear of judgement.

 

No matter how you choose to share your writing – spoken word, social media, or a letter to a friend - it allows you to explore a thought and chase curiosity with a depth you don’t have in everyday conversations. You decide what I want to say, smooth out the edges, and put it out there to find someone who shares that interest, and can respond with depth too.

 

Even if you’re not writing about something personal, the act of speaking up and putting yourself out there is a constant push through a ‘what-will-they-think’ mindset. It’s a practice zone for approaching life authentically.

 

See strategies: Spoken word, sharing reflections

 

4. Organizing thoughts



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Do you consider yourself an over-thinker? If you’re someone who thinks a lot of things, all at once, and all over the place, your mind likely resembles a messy teenager’s bedroom.

 

Writing is a way to clear out your mind space. You can scrap the ‘junk’ thoughts that don’t serve you, deep clean the believes that are holding you back, and proudly display the positive ones. You can put your problems down on paper, making it easier to see a solution.



When you’re writing you can dive into a singular thought, dealing with them one at a time, rather than staggering your way through a million random ones all at once.


See strategies: therapeutic journaling, daily journaling, morning pages

 

5.  Sense of purpose



woman reading a book with her dog sat in front of a window with a skyline city view

 

In Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (my favourite book EVER), Elizabeth Gilbert writes

 

 All I know for certain is this is how I want to spend the rest of my life – collaborating to the best of my abilities with the forces of inspiration

Does this resonate with you? Even if you don’t have a conventionally ‘creative’ hobby, like painting or pottery, if you find yourself constantly curious, inspired, and interested by life than congratulations, you’re a creative.

 

Get your pen ready, because writing might be your creative fix.  Pick a topic or item that inspires you and write about why. That crazy dream you had? Turn it into a story. Document your life like it’s the best story ever because, to you at least, it should be.

 

Commit to writing daily and in enjoy the purpose and passion you carve out for yourself each day. It doesn’t matter what you write and whether you think it’s good. If you write, you’re a writer. And who knows where that might take you?

 

See strategies: ‘still life’ creative writing, daily journaling, stream-of-consciousness writing

 

10 ways to harness the power of words for wellness


woman writing in a notepad in front of a lake

Now you know how writing can benefit your wellness, here are 10 practical ways to make writing part of your daily wellbeing habits.

Disclaimer: these names are by no means technical; I’ve come up with them myself based on what I think fits best.


1.  Daily journaling


As simple as it sounds, write about your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and conversations that take place each day. This is cool for looking back and reflecting on how you’ve changed and grown over a set period of time.


2.  Therapeutic journaling


I use this term to cover a range of journaling techniques that come from therapeutic/ healing settings. This can be ‘shadow work’ in spiritual healing (check out this book for prompts!)  or identifying and challenging beliefs in CBT/ DBT therapy (this is a useful self-help resource)



3.  Morning pages


This exercise involves 3 (or more) pages of completely free writing, done first thing in the morning. It’s a cathartic and ritualistic path to discover your creativity.


4.  Gratitude lists


At the end of each day, write a list of the things you’re grateful for. It’s a quick and easy way to document everyday magic that might otherwise pass you by.


5.  ‘Still life’ creative writing 


Like still life paintings, still life writing creatively captures an everyday object that grabs your attention. Describe it in as much detail as possible to create a literally ‘photograph’ that recreates the object in your mind.  


6. Sharing reflections


There are many social media accounts that share nuggets of wisdom and inspiration with others (I have one!), why not set up your own and commit to posting each day?


7.  Spoken word


Another way to share your writing is through spoken word. Usually focusing on a personal and political issue, and expressed in a poetic way, spoken word can build confidence and connection.


8.  Poetry


Writing poetry is a well-documented way to process your thoughts and feelings, whilst flexing your creative muscles.


9.  Stream-of-consciousness


Stream-of-consciousness writing is a narrative technique that involves a free flow of seemingly formless ideas, going of on tangents, and capturing character’s thoughts in a realistic way. This can be part of your own writing practice, by allowing  your ideas to flow onto the page without limitations.


10.  ‘Time travel’ writing


Have you ever tried writing a letter to your younger self? Or writing a detailed vision for the future? I call this ‘time travel’ writing. While it’s important to live in the moment, reflecting on the past and setting future goals can be beneficial for your wellbeing too.


Final Thoughts | Writing and Wellness


Heather Grant Writer typing at her laptop

I’m going to finish by selfishly writing about my own relationship with writing and wellness. Because I write a lot.


For my copywriting clients, for magazines, for my social media accounts, in my journal, and in my phone notes, on scrap paper. Basically, whenever and wherever I have a thought that I need to get down.


It’s not even that I particularly enjoy it — it’s not the same ‘fun’ as hanging out with friends, a night out, or a Netflix binge — it’s essentially sitting still and alone for a long period. I’m a go go go kind of person, so this doesn’t come naturally.


But I can’t imagine not doing it. That sounds like a strange ‘wish-washy’ way of describing something that takes a lot of effort, but it’s true.


How else would I work through my thoughts? I don’t think I have the brain space to keep them all inside. How else would I remember the best and worst moments of my days? I want to learn a lot from them all. How else would I stay inspired? Make decisions? Manage my life? Make money? Find purpose? Connect with likeminded people? The list goes on.


Writing has a central role in my life and whenever I’ve (usually unintentionally) stopped writing for a period of time, I feel it. Like a day of junk food or a week of minimal movement, it saps my energy.


So from my personal experience alone, I’m convinced writing is crucial for wellbeing.


Maybe you’ve never written anything more than a school assignment or a shopping list. Or maybe you write as a job, but you’re losing the sense of ‘why’ you started. Whatever your relationship with writing is, I encourage you to discover how writing can be good for you, regardless of whether you think you’re good at it.

 

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