Nowadays we talk about our brains bursting, our schedules being overscheduled, and our plates crammed too full to hold another thing. We’re spinning those plates of everything we need to do, remember, and be all at the same time, faster, then faster, then …
Unless we can start to deal with our plates and take them, one by one, off those pointy stick things and set them gently on the side, all that spinning is a short step to us sitting on the ground in a daze, smashed porcelain everywhere, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to the point where we don’t know what to do (plus, now you have another enormous mess to clean).
When your mind is full, it cries out for reprieve, and if it doesn’t get it, just like a damn that could’ve been tapped to avoid bursting, letting out some of what’s going on inside of you can be your saving grace.
You know what I’m going to say: one of the best ways to do this is by writing.
There are enumerable outlets available to us- from Goop-sanctioned $1,000 tchotchkes to meditation to training for a 10K. So why is writing so powerful that it should be at the top of the list?
Notebooks don’t judge. You don’t have to concern yourself with how you’re perceived or have to be sensitive to others’ needs while you’re trying to help yourself avoid certain explosion by sharing what’s going on with you in a notebook (the kind that plugs in or good old paper). You can write the darkest, most honest thoughts, and rather than have to deal with certain backlash were you to share them with another person, here, there’s only the glowing, positive outcome of you releasing some pressure and perhaps seeing your own ideas for the first time in such a light- ideas you may never have revealed if not through the private act of writing. What a gift to have such an opportunity for reflection.
It’s free. The benefits of therapy are well known, but by writing- going linear with your thoughts on the page (literally as you write or type in a physically forward path) and figuratively as you puzzle through the shadows and crevaces of your thoughts- you are working toward arriving at clarity, epiphany, and healing. Our minds are designed to create solutions from information, so by going from a, to b, to c and so on, you’re building critical links toward truly understanding yourself and the world you inhabit in an extremely accessible, budget-friendly way.
The more you do it the better you get at it. Being able to stop, drop, and feel better, uplifted, more in control, and empowered within a few minutes of writing is in and of itself empowering. One of the key reasons writers and journal keepers insist on writing as a daily practice is writing begets more writing. With practice, the ideas and memories arrive more easily; you’re more able to get to the heart of things from learning how to identify patterns in your behavior and thinking. In time, reaching for the journal is a matter of necessity so you can approach your outside life from a much more confident state—because of all the exploration you’ve done of yourself and inquiry you’ve made to the world around through your writing.
- It’s as schedule-friendly as it gets. Not everyone can whip out a journal at any given time (defending in court? Probably not. Delivering mail? Depends). But you most certainly can do it before fully waking up or just before drifting off to sleep, during lunch, or why the heck not?, in a stolen five minutes in the bathroom. Giving yourself the opportunity to write, wherever you are, means you’re able to release the pressure on yourself, sort out your thoughts and dive into your own mind, all bringing you toward feelings of wellness. Being able to incorporate this process into your busy life, rather than it becoming another “thing” you come to see as “having” to do, is both freeing and invaluable.
The benefits on the body, mind, and heart are notable. Researchers have seen what happens in the brain when people write- and we’re talking about any kind of writing: journal writing, stream-of-consciousness type typing, recalling moments of your life or uncovering insights about relationships through writing essays or memoir, even creating characters (who will invariably be connected to your inner landscape as you’re the one creating their hearts and souls) for fictional purposes.
The documented outcomes from writing include boosted memory, decreased depression, increased immune function, and overall better cognitive health, particularly when the writing is by hand, which due to the motor function, sends additional positive signals to the brain. It was also noted by researchers that “expressing feelings, in verbal or written words, reduces activity in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center, and engages the thinking brain. This brain pattern can make sadness, anger, and pain less intense.”
Moreover, accessing your inner unguarded self, freeing the real you trapped behind all those damn spinning plates, releases endorphins, which flood your brain with happiness. Not only do you feel better, but all that smiling from feeling better releases even more endorphins– what a happy loop to be in!
All told, all that writing is like a big let-out sigh. It’s a fully-realized, all body relief we cannot get through any other means. And while other forms of release are extremely valuable, none of them are as intimate, as to the point, and as effective during the act, each and every time, for mental clarity, for giving rise to the true self, for spiritual lifting and physical betterment in one go, as writing.
This October, join Psychotherapist Vaishali Patel as she guides writers through their personal journeys in a gentle, exploratory workshop on Reclaiming Your Story or check out one of our many upcoming courses– for all interests and levels of writer- to see if it’s the thing that will give you the infrastructure, support, and tools to get- and keep- yourself writing.