For those who love to write, the act itself — of creating new worlds, characters, and narratives, or of simply recording thoughts, experiences, and musings — is rewarding enough on its own. But an article in Mic.com cites a growing body of research suggesting that writing of any kind has palpable benefits to physical and mental health.
James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on writing to heal for years at the University of Texas at Austin. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker writes. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”
Why? Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.
You don’t have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life’s most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.
I am sure the results vary wildly from person to person, but I can attest to writing having a calming effect on me. At the very least, it offers a nice escape. What are your thoughts?