People have used writing as a panacea for everything from broken relationships to chronic loneliness. It’s certainly a great outlet for releasing a variety of emotions. That alone can benefit mental health, but is that all? What about creative writing?
The benefits of journaling for mental health are pretty clear, but it isn’t the only writing that is beneficial. Keep reading to learn how creative writing can also help improve your mental health.
Creative Writing Builds Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and deal with your feelings in a constructive way. It’s also your ability to react appropriately to other’s emotions. This is a learned skill, and creative writing can help with that.
First, writing about your emotions allows you to simply acknowledge that they exist in a way that is safe for you. Also, because you have taken a step back from the situation to write about it, you have full control. In your writing, your character can find a positive way to explore and resolve their feelings. You can even take a negative emotion, and replace it with a more positive one.
As you write out the scenarios your characters are in, you are actually helping to build emotional coping skills. This in turn increases your emotional intelligence.
Creative Writing Creates Perspective
Stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to the feeling that things are much worse than they actually are. That’s because being in the midst of a situation and experiencing the resulting emotions in real-time can cause us to lose perspective.
Writing can help with that. You can write stories that are based on situations you are experiencing, people you know, and emotions you feel.
The difference is that you can separate yourself from the situation, and view it from a third-party perspective. In many cases, you will find that this gives you a bit of objectivity, it allows you to see the situation is not as bad as you have made yourself think.
Writing Can Provide a Sense of Accomplishment
When your mental health isn’t at its best, everything feels overwhelming. Work, school, and socializing is a struggle. You might even struggle with keeping your home clean.
Worse, this can lead to feelings of frustration with yourself as you wonder why you can’t do things that seem relatively simple. A major accomplishment can seem practically impossible.
When You feel this way, consider giving creative writing a try. This is a low-pressure task that requires little to no physical exertion. It’s perfect for those low spoon days. Anything you get done is a creative accomplishment. That might be a short paragraph, a character description, even a list of story ideas to work on in the future. As long as you are using your creativity, you are on the right track.
Connect With Others Through Creative Writing
Now more than ever, the impacts of social isolation are being realized. That’s because mental health depends largely on human connection. When that’s lost, we struggle, unless we find something to bridge that gap.
Fortunately, many people have found ways to stay connected. They meet up with friends via Zoom for virtual happy hours. They take online group fitness classes. Many people use online gaming to maintain healthy social connections.
All Of these things are wonderful, but it’s also helpful to have additional activities that give you opportunities to socialize. One of these is creative writing. Yes, at first this may seem to be a solitary activity. It doesn’t have to be.
There are many online groups where shared activity and interest are creative writing. Just conduct a quick check of your social media. Chances are, you will find groups dedicated to various genres. There’s also a great probability that you will be able to connect with local writers in your community.
Have you ever wanted to share your writing? It can be intimidating at first, but there’s so much support for emerging writers in online groups. You’ll find that many of these groups are very welcoming to beginners. Many of them have experienced writers who are experts in genres from science fiction, fantasy, romance, dissertation research and writing for a variety of audiences. So, there’s very little chance of being intimidated or made to feel as if you don’t belong. Instead, you will find a community of people with a shared interest who are happy to provide feedback and encouragement.
Creative Writing is Self Care
Ask 5 people what they do for self-care. You will likely receive 5 very different answers. Depending on the person’s needs and preferences, self-care might be taking a nap, binge-watching favorite television shows, working out, engaging in a beauty ritual, or getting a massage.
If self-care is engaging in activities for your own wellbeing and pleasure, creative writing certainly qualifies. This is an activity that provides an emotional outlet, allows you to create something to be proud of, and gives you a mental boost. By writing, you also take time out of your day to prioritize something that you want to do.
Tips For Writing For Mental Health
There are a few things you can do to maximize the mental health benefits of creative writing.
Carry Something to Write With at All Times
The best time to write for mental health is at the moment. No, it’s not always possible to sit down and churn out a short story. But, you may find several short breaks during the day during which you can pull out a pencil and paper and jot a few things down. Do you tend to use unhealthy coping mechanisms such as stress eating? Try writing instead.
Don’t Over-Edit Yourself
You might write something amazing, but that isn’t always the goal. Remember that this is a creative process and an outlet for you to work through your feelings. That is just as important as the final product. Let yourself simply write without editing as you go, and without overanalyzing your final product. The idea is to boost your self-esteem, not engage in criticism of yourself.
Give Yourself Physical Space to Write
You won’t write unless you give yourself permission to prioritize it. One way to do this is to create a dedicated space for your writing.
It’s perfectly okay to keep things small and simple. There’s no need to be overwhelmed with the notion of creating an entire office space. A small corner desk or table with a bit of light, possibly near a window would be perfect. You can even use a comfortable chair with a nice lap desk.
Treat Writing as a Necessity
If you were told that taking medication was necessary for your wellbeing, would you ignore that advice? What about instructions to change your diet? Hopefully, the answer is no. The same logic should apply to writing as well. It’s something that helps improve your mental health, and it must be a priority.
Your mental health is as important as your physical. It’s imperative that you are proactive in maintaining it. That means creating and sticking to a regimen of behaviors and activities that ensure you are healthy, happy, and fulfilled. As you look for ways to improve your mental health, consider using creative writing as one of your outlets.