Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Always Knew That Writing Was Good For Me But...

For many years, I’ve known firsthand that writing, whether a journal entry, story, article, novel or blog, always made me feel better. The satisfaction from putting words onto paper has kept me grounded, happier and calmer than I am when real life forces other priorities on me. I know that writing colleagues often feel the same, despite the hard work that goes into creating a story or a novel.

It turns out that studies are showing direct health benefits from the act of writing. In fact, an article in cites a 2005 study which showed that just 20 minutes of writing three to five times over a four-month period improved mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms.

A 2013 study explored 49 people who’d had biopsies on the same day. They asked one group to write down their thoughts and feelings for twenty minutes at a time over a three-day period, two weeks before the biopsies were performed. Eleven days after the biopsies, 76% of the group who’d written in journals were fully healed while 58% of the control group hadn’t recovered. Were there other factors? Who knows? The article doesn’t say, but researchers are currently studying the potential health benefits of writing and results are already showing better immune systems.

The article also states that writers sleep better, which I completely disagree with. Ask my writers’ group of over a dozen people and you won’t find many great sleepers. Of course, there are probably a huge variety of reasons for disrupted sleep. It’s possible that if we didn’t write, the sleeping problems would be even worse.

Here’s another thing. A huge part of the reason for my happiness with writing comes from a desire to write ever since I was a child. I’ve always wanted to jot thoughts and ideas down. But what about people who simply don’t want to write? What if the mere idea of recording thoughts on paper stresses them out? There’s a big difference between wanting to write and being forced to write. If people were told to write for research purposes, but didn’t really want to, would their immune symptoms be weaker than those who love to write and embraced the chance to take part? In spite of the vast number of books published every year, not everyone is interested in writing. But for those of us who do, it’s nice to know that our physical well being is benefiting too.

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