Written by therapist Sarah Heinss
The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. – J.K. Rowling
The History of Writing
For thousands of years, humans have been using writing and symbols to communicate, help remember events, and express themselves. Unsurprisingly, writing is considered the most common form of art in the world. Those who do not even consider themselves artists, process the joys and the trials of their lives through journals, and there’s good reasons for that!
Writing Heals. Literally.
New research suggests that expressive writing offers physical benefits as extensive as healing from a terminal illness or boosting an immune system, but the physical and mental health benefits go far beyond those extensive circumstances. Expressive writing has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve overall well-being, and improve sleep (especially when journaling right before bed). Writing also helps with long term trauma. Writing in detail about negative experiences in story format allows more space for cognitive resources. Simply put, writing helps us make sense of things that don’t make sense. It allows us to chart our own narrative despite the truth that we may never find the answers we want, and yet can still find healing and acceptance.
The Journaling Plan
Spend 5-10 minutes a day writing about your day, the stressors, etc., in any way that feels natural. It can be a bullet point list, it can be linear, nonlinear; whatever allows you to get what’s on the inside of you onto paper and free up some headspace.
Expressive Journal Writing Prompts
- Log an entry in a journal about one event from your day you’re still thinking about. Write in as much detail as you can, along with how you think and feel about it.
- Journal about the future: fears, uncertainty, grief for what could have been, etc.
- Journal your personal affirmations: What do you love about yourself? What does someone else love about you? What makes you unique?
- Journal for Social Anxiety: Think back to your last social interaction. What were you thinking and feeling? How do you think others perceived you during that time? What did you do well?
Writing for Professional Writers
If you’re a novelist, a screenwriter, a journalist, or write fiction or nonfiction of any kind, writing for you looks a little different. Though the same personal journal writing prompts apply, how does this filter into your work as a professional? Think about the characters you choose to write, the stories you choose to tell. In what ways are they reflective of your own life? Do you always choose to write about the theme of grief? Is there unprocessed grief in your own life? If you write stories that feel detached from you, or maybe you’re getting paid to write the kind of story you aren’t connected to, how can you make it more personal?
If you want to process your emotions through expressive writing, or free yourself from writer’s block, I’d love to connect with you and support you on your journey to wellness. Give me a call today to ask questions, inquire on availability, or schedule an appointment.