In a recent article, Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, a researcher, scholar, and author, states the many benefits of writing for mental health. Long-term improvements include changes in mood, stress levels, and depressive symptoms.
According to the article in Arts.Mic by Rachel Grate, in a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
Participants who wrote about traumatic or stressful events
In a New Zeeland study where expressive writing was incorporated, adults wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before a biopsy.
According to Dr. Pennebaker, “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.” Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.
What about you? How has writing helped you to heal or deal with challenging times in your life? We’d love to hear from you.