We were reminded recently of a very good self-help technique – therapeutic writing or “brain dump” as Gillie Bolton, one of the leading proponents, calls it. Research published in the journal “Science” reported that students significantly improved their exam performance by writing about their fears and anxieties immediately prior to taking a test.
An increasing number of studies, over the past thirty years or so, have demonstrated that when individuals write down their deepest thoughts and feelings about an issue, long-term significant improvements in physical and mental health follow. Improved memory and sleep, increased cell activity and even shorter recovery time after an operation are among the reported benefits.
So how can you use expressive writing to increase your sense of well-being?
Write for 15 – 30 minutes once a week for a month or on 3 – 5 consecutive days and/or you can use it for a one off stressful situation like before an exam.
Forget all the rules of writing – grammar, spelling and punctuation and write whatever comes into your mind. Explore ALL your feelings and emotions.
Choose anything useful as a topic – symptoms, concerns, something you are worrying about or avoiding; a stressful experience; a traumatic event, bothersome memories from childhood.
Another way you can use this process is to help with a difficult relationship: explore your thoughts and emotions thoroughly in writing and then write as if you are the other person. Looking at the issues from another point of view can often bring clarity and empathy to the situation.
You can throw away your writing once complete as a gesture to show that you’ve now processed the issue and are done with it. However, some find that it helps to revisit what was written at an appropriate time in the future and revise their writing in respect of new learning and understanding.
And the benefits? The act of writing it all down helps to overcome obstacles, gives a sense of being in control and lets you unload your anxieties in a safe and private way.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed