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How writing can help with mental wellbeing
We are living in unprecedented and difficult times, and there isn’t one person who has been left unaffected by the pandemic in one way or another this year.
Unfortunately, 2020 has taken a huge toll on the world’s mental health; this is due to loneliness, separation from friends and family, stress about the virus itself, bereavement, people being trapped with their abusers, and so much more.
Life has become unrecognisable, even when we are out of “lockdown”, and the new normal is tough.
Now, autumn is upon us with its early and dark nights, which also isn’t helping people with their mood.
Mental health issues that are on the rise include depression, insomnia, and anxiety.
It’s also been found that nearly one in five COVID-19 patients is diagnosed with a mental illness within three months of testing positive for the virus.
So, you might be wondering how you can help yourself through this difficult time. Writing is a wonderful tool for boosting your mental wellbeing; we’ll look at your options below.
Journaling is the perfect tool for getting in touch with your emotions. You can use your journal however you like, whether daily or weekly; morning or night.
It’s also up to you what you write about in your journal; you might want to test out different approaches and which works best for you.
Popular uses for a journal include:
- The mindfulness approach, where you write about how you feel at that moment and acknowledge your feelings.
- The gratitude approach, where you take time out each day to think about and write down everything that you are grateful for.
- The obstacle approach, where you examine future goals and work on understanding the feelings and emotions that are preventing you from achieving them.
- An emotion diary, where you take a moment to pause after a strong emotional response and write down how you are feeling and what triggered that response.
Less structured than journaling, free writing involves allowing yourself to write down all of the thoughts and feelings that you find overwhelming. There can be a set time limit, but there’s no word count; you just write as much as you want.
You might want to schedule your free writing into your day, so it doesn’t get forgotten about; perhaps you could do it when you wake or last thing at night.
Creativity has long been used as a tool for helping those in poor mental health, and so it makes sense that being creative can promote mental wellbeing.
While you may love creative writing, the motivation for it can be lower when you’re feeling down, so try to make it as accessible as you can for yourself.
Have a space set up with a comfortable seat, notepad and pen that you can go to whenever inspiration strikes.
Letter writing can be incredibly therapeutic, whether the letters are sent or not. It’s also a great way to battle feelings of loneliness if you strike up a regular correspondence.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- A letter to your depressed self
- A letter to your happier self
- A letter to your past self
- A letter to your future self
- A letter that will never be sent
- A letter you should have written years ago
- A letter to a friend
- A letter to a new pen pal
- A letter to a stranger
You can find more ideas in our blog post entitled ‘15 letters you could send today’.
Let us know in the comments how you get on with your writing for wellbeing. Which method worked well for you?
Please note that, if you think you might be suffering from a mental health disorder, then you must contact your GP as soon as possible for treatment from a professional.