So much of winning at the writing game can be summarized succinctly in the immemorial words of Dory in Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming.
Easier said than done, for sure. But it’s important because really the only way to lose is to stop writing. To give up. To abandon your dream of that book or that blog or those articles.
As I’ve coached writers and helped them “just keep swimming,” I’ve found that a little encouragement goes a long way. Sometimes we just need someone to say , “Hey, look. You’re doing all right. You’re doing really well, in fact. Keep on. You’re making progress even if it feels slow at times.”
With this in mind I’d like to offer five scientifically verified reasons writing is really good for you—for your overall health and well-being. In each case I’ll include the reason and a link to a relevant study or article to back it up.
Do These Benefits Apply to Me?
One caveat: The studies I cite below are about expressive writing or journaling, and that’s understandable when you think about it. If you’re a researcher who wants to study the possible health benefits of writing, you need all your study participants to be engaged in the same kind of writing for your research to mean anything. And it’s a lot easier to get a bunch of random folks to journal than it is to find and conduct research with a sample of, say, memoirists.
But here’s the thing. With the exception of purely utilitarian writing, such as scratching out a shopping list or shooting off a business-related email, just about all writing includes at least some self-expression. Memoir obviously does. But even penning a self-help or business book involves wrestling with the interior life and drawing on personal experiences, be they traumatic or positive.
It would be hasty to assume, therefore, that if your writing is not directly about your life, it therefore does not offer these benefits. Far more likely as long as your writing is genuine and comes from a sense of purpose that these benefits do indeed apply to you to one degree or another.
Ready to find out some powerful reasons to keep writing? Here goes.
1. Writing Strengthens Your Immune System
Several studies have shown that when we write, particularly about stressful events in our lives, our immune system experiences a boost. To read more on this from the American Psychological Association, click here.
2. Writing Improves Your Physical Health
Want to go to the doctor less often? Write! In one study, referenced here, researchers found that participants who write about emotional experiences “reported significant benefits in both objectively assessed and self-reported physical health.”
3. Writing Reduces Stress
Want to manage your anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with feelings of depression. Keep writing! This article from the University of Rochester Medical Center, which is specifically about journaling, points to the numerous mental health benefits of writing.
4. Writing Helps You Sleep Better
In this study college students wrote letters to socially significant people in their lives about something helpful or harmful the recipient had done for or against them. One of the most remarkable outcomes was better quality sleep and greater sleep duration!
5. Writing Can Make You Happier
This study, in which one group of people wrote about negative experiences and another group wrote about positive experiences, concluded that both groups experienced an upswing in their moods.
Question: Which one of these benefits to writing do you need most right now? You can leave a comment by clicking here.