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January 31, 2018

January 27th is National Storytelling Week, and here at Psychology Wales we love hearing how stories and writing have been helpful to you. Here’s a story one of our readers asked us to share about how writing has helped improve their mental health.

 

Writing the Self

I’ve always loved to write. Ever since I knew how, I have always written, whether for fun or for school assessment. I wrote all things, from crime solving to poetry to writing in my diary – you name it and I have written it.

 

Struck by a family illness, writing became my only consolation when I became a teenager. I didn’t know where else to turn except from the understanding pages of my pink and black diary. I never had many friends, and I struggled with socialising at the time, so writing in my diary became almost like talking to a friend. From there I began to write fiction, and lived in a fantasy world of my own creation. 

 

As I got older, I began to develop symptoms of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I often struggled with finding a healthy way to express my thoughts. At this point, I turned to my diary.  I wrote down everything I was feeling. I began to write poetry about how it felt to suffer with mental illness. It became cathartic to me, it became a comfort to my mind. 

 

Today, I write about everything. My mental health has greatly improved and because I sought excellent mental health treatment and kept on writing, I am now able to regulate my emotions and obsessive thoughts. Writing has become the way that I beat down the monster inside my head.

  • Anonymous

 

How writing can help with your mental health

In his book Opening Up: The Healing of Confiding In Others, James Pennebeker noted that writing can have an increasingly positive effect upon mental health.

The effects of writing can include:

  • reduced anxiety,
  • reduced high blood pressure,
  • improved immune system functioning,

Alongside many other benefits. Therefore, writing can be an extremely beneficial tool to utilise when faced with mental health conditions and low mood.

 

Interested in unleashing your inner author yet?

 

Where do I start?

  • Begin by writing continuously for 20 minutes over four days. Write continuously about whatever it is that you wish to write about. This may be your current thoughts or feelings, or you could use it as a more experimental outlet and dabble in creative writing.
  • If you happen to run out of things to say, repeat what you have already written, or practice some free writing where you write whatever comes to mind.
  • Pennebeker encourages keeping your writing for yourself. Keep the extracts you have written to monitor your progress.

 

Do you practice writing for your wellbeing? What do you like to write? Let us know!

 

Warning: Please do not practice this writing exercise if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, as this could make these feelings worse. Seek help from a therapist or call a helpline such as the Samaritans – 116 123 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (7pm-11pm, 7 days a week) or CALL 0800 132 737.

 

Like this post? Here’s more of our blog posts.

 

https://www.psychologywales.co.uk/2018/01/23/music-and-mental-health-integrating-music-into-mindfulness-practice/

 

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