A couple of years ago, Mic.com featured an article on the health benefits of writing and pointed to several studies that should hearten writers.
• In a New Zealand study, researchers found that “expressive writing” (describing thoughts and feelings) can help wounds—both internal and external—heal faster.
• A 1999 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that writing about stressful life experiences was medically beneficial to patients with mild to moderately severe asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
• Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has found that short-term, focused writing can help everyone from the terminally ill to victims of violent crime. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker said in this web article. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up. People will tell us months afterward that it’s been a very beneficial experience for them.”
I imagine those of us who have long enjoyed “expressive writing” aren’t very surprised by these studies. I’ve kept a journal since I was in elementary school, and writing down my thoughts and feelings, simply processing life lessons on paper, has always been a stress-relieving activity for me. I like Flannery O’Connor’s old quote: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” How encouraging to hear that such writing is a healthy habit as well!