Have you wondered if writing can improve your mental health? Or how does one process trauma through writing? Expressive writing - when done correctly, helps strengthen your brain.
Writing to Heal: Build Your Structures & Support System
Last week, we learnt about the similarities and differences between writing to heal and keeping a diary. We learnt that writing to heal is more purposeful and growth-oriented. We learnt that it leads with a structure and direction to your expressive writing.
We also learnt about Pennebaker and Smyth, who led excellent studies that educated us on the positive effects on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing from writing to heal.
And of course, I shared about my favourite emotional benefit is how it enables personal empowerment. If you missed the previous two episodes, I'd love for you to catch up on them. And if you're joining us today, hi, my name is Ann Thomas, and you're here with me on writing to heal. I am the founder of Revel, which comprises a small group of people who are incredibly passionate about nourishing minds. If you have any questions or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach me via email firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll also find me on Instagram. My handle's @annmthomas.
I'm an 80s kid, a product of babyboomers. Baby Boomers are known to be achievement-oriented, dedicated, and career-focused. Born during the post World War II baby boom, they rejected and redefined past traditions. Baby Boomers are confident, independent, and self-reliant. So it goes without, I grow up in a very goal-oriented, supportive and structured environment. So if you've had a similar upbringing to mine, you'd understand when I say that for writing to heal to be effective, you'd need structures and supports to be in place. This will result in a more efficient and effective use of the process. And that's what we're discussing today. If structures make you cringe, I'll teach you ways you can gently ease yourself into it.
To share another personal story, embarrassing confession time: Back in the early 90s, I read my sister's diary. I also that my mom was an avid reader of the diary. So, yea, this taught me to leave my journal behind at school instead of bringing it home. This really embarrassing realisation helps me understand why not everyone might be open to the idea of journaling. You might feel it is an invasion of privacy or that someone might find it and read it. Or perhaps you just really hate writing. Or maybe, if you're someone who has had negative experiences with journaling before, you may not feel good about it now.
Now, when I meet Revel's visitors in-store, and we get into a conversation about journaling, especially if the person is uncomfortable about expressive writing, here are some typical questions I'd ask to help me better understand how I can be of assistance.
First and foremost, I'd check if they'd had previous positive/negative or neutral experiences with journaling. If that's a yes, I'd check if they've had used it in a medical or professional capacity. If it was a no or they have negative feelings linked to their previous experiences, I'd ask them to share their concerns about writing to heal. And instead of diving into the benefits, I'd first ask them about their own self-conceived opinions on how they feel journaling could benefit their healthful healing.
It's very natural to be suspicious of the process and view it as a timewaster, which makes me which this podcast was little more interactive where I'd be able to have this conversation with you instantaneously.
How Writing Helps You Manage & Master Your Mental and Physical Health
On top of strengthening the immune system and protecting our physical bodies from diseases, writing expressively could also help regulate emotions. And that's what we'll be exploring a little more on today. We'll look into people who are overwhelmed by negative emotions and behaviours, and how they can and should use journaling as a tool to manage and even master their feelings.
Can Writing Help Improve Your Mental Health?
Expressive writing - when done correctly, helps strengthen your brain.
Welcome to writing to heal. Over the next seven weeks, we will be exploring, learning and empowering ourselves with easily accessible and applicable techniques together with the scientific studies supporting the notion that expressive writing heals.
My name is Ann Thomas, and I am the founder of Revel. Revel comprises of a small group of people who are incredibly passionate about nourishing minds. We work mostly from our home-based studios and offices scattered across our beautiful island home, Singapore. And at the heart of the CBD, a stone's throw away from the lush Fort Canning Park sits our tiny and cosy retail space. Here, surrounded by inspiration by the blends of nature and modern-living, we work our magic and meet magical people just like you who inspired us to host this podcast.
If you're a personal acquaintance/friend/family, thank you so much for tuning in. I've always been a quiet person, so this is possibly the most you've ever heard me speak. If you're a professional acquaintance, thank you too, so much, for tuning in.
For the next 7 weeks or so, we'll be exploring the what, the why and the how, to expressive writing. In your journey through writing to heal, please be patient with yourself. Be kind. Be understanding. Especially if you are working through trauma, spend sufficient time understanding each week's takeaway before applying it to your life. Also, don't overlook the invaluable benefits of reflections either. After each activity - reflect. See what worked, and what didn't. What surprised you? What bored you? What bothered you? Why? Can you change that? Do you want to change that?
I would encourage you to follow the episodes' sequence, but please feel free to jump back and forth - anything that rocks your boat as long as it inspires you to get started! There is no time limit to personal growth, so if you feel you need to take a break, that's perfectly fine too.
Please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns or suggestions. You can reach me via email email@example.com, you'll also find me on Instagram. My handle's @annmthomas
I hope you enjoy this series, and I wish you every success in your journey through journaling to heal.
Maya Angelou, the American civil rights activist and poet, was an avid writer who once said: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
She was so on-point there.
Writing about your feelings - whether you are managing depression or anxiety, or just going through a rough patch, perhaps you're feeling gloomy - Writing about your feelings can be life-changing to both your physical and emotional health. Over the next few weeks, I will share references to scientific studies that have proven these true. But here's a simple explanation for now. When you freely express yourself without allowing shame, pride or fear to influence you, you are enabling yourself to figure out the reasons behind your emotions. Here is where your simple notebook evolves and becomes a therapeutic tool that heals, empowers and nurtures your personal growth.
Your writing now serves as an avenue for you to discover and understand your perceptions of your personal experiences and interactions with life. Through your journaling, you decipher what these exchanges tell you about yourself, your emotions and your feelings. You begin to see things beyond their surface when you let go of things holding you back such fear, pride, and so on and so forth.