All sorts of scientific evidence is emerging that writing is good for your health, especially the health of your brain and emotions. Sally Balfe reported on a study done by Dr. Robin Philipp showing that creative writing reduced anxiety and helped patients cope with bereavement and depression.
WebMD reports a number of health benefits from writing, including relieving post-traumatic stress disorder, stronger immune systems, reduced asthma and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
The Oregon Health & Science Center recommends journal writing as one of the ways to retain brain function as we age.
In an eloquent essay, Esther Sternberg, M.D., author of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, recommends writing as a way of reconnecting with past emotions and finding your way to a place of healing peace.
University of Texas Professor James Pennebaker, a leading authority on the connection between writing and health, and author of Writing to Heal, offers tips for healthful writing on his website. In his book, he urges people to “write down your deepest feelings about an emotional upheaval in your life for 15 or 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days.” That simple act, with no further involvement, has strengthened immune systems and improved grades. Continuing the process over a longer period of time strengthens the results.
Debbie Mandel recommends helping Alzheimer’s patients write memoirs. As odd as that may sound, it seems that focusing on what they do remember helps them retain more, and has all the benefits of any memoir writing as far as the rest of the family is concerned. Some researchers are finding that activities, such as creative writing, help stave off the symptoms of dementia.
In Train Your Thoughts, Change Your Brain, Sharon Begley, science editor of Newsweek, surveys findings of neuroscientists that using our brains to learn new things and form new concepts stimulates the formation of new neurons and synapses throughout our lives. What better way to examine concepts and explore relationships between them than to write about them?
Given all this compelling evidence about the health benefits, aren’t you glad you write? Especially for the health of it!
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal
Countdown: 29 days until the release of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing on July 1. Pre-ordering now available on Amazon.com.