Sorry for such a banal thought, but life is a complicated thing. Sometimes, everyone feels it very difficult to make it through a certain event, to solve any internal problem, to get out of depression. Then, there is a simple and affordable way: a so-called “writing practice”.
A Cure for All Diseases
Writing practices are another psychotherapy instruments. The point is that you write about your life in order to get better. Not only the moment of writing matters here, but your attitude towards things you write about has its meaning. That is a kind of an essay about events, or a review for the environment. And it doesn’t matter if you write that on a piece of paper or on your keyboard… Writing practice is what can help you deal with your problems on your own, without any assistance from people.
30 years ago, a psychologist, the professor of Texas University James Pennebaker discovered, that if a person writes about their worries in a certain way, their health gets better. Moreover, that is not only about a mental state, but for one’s physical shape as well. Since the the beginning of his research, the professor has published more than three hundred scientific papers about that, and that adds up to reliability of the theory.
The first Pennebaker’s research was organized in the certain way. He gathered two groups of people: control one and experimental one. The control group participants had to write about something completely negligible, for instance about their breakfast meal. While the second group of people had to write about something exceptionally worrying, meaningful, something they never told anybody before. They had 15 minutes for writing. Every experiment’s participant entered an empty room, there were only a chair, a table, paper sheets, a pen and a message with task. A person had to write for 15 minutes exactly, then they were interrupted by the ring, took their list of paper and could leave it in a box standing in the corner of the room or to take it with them. The experiment lasted for four days: participants repeated same actions every day during 96 hours.
Then, they observed people who participated in a research. People from control group, who had to write about usual things, didn’t feel any changes. Those who were in the experimental group and wrote about some tough moments of their lives, came to an unexpected result. Scientists found out, that people from the experimental group started to visit doctors and take medicine two times less that they used to do before that therapeutic writing.
Pennebaker and his colleagues were interested about what exactly works, and why many people get their health improved, including those having serious chronic diseases. A scientist made a conclusion. Every person has the need to speak out, to talk about his or her life, about this or that idea or event. When they can’t make it (for instance, there is no time or no comfortable companion nearby), then a person holds verbalization of their feelings and thoughts. Long holds lead to chronic stresses, which cause physical illnesses.
Writing about something that matters during 15 minutes per day helps even in the most complicated cases. Researches showed that people ill with asthma get their attacks’ quantity and intensiveness lowered, people after their 60 heal their surgery wounds faster, etc.
Learning how to use writing practice in your everyday life is very simple. Moreover, unlike regular medicine that do not always help, this way costs absolutely nothing and does not cause any collateral effects. Maybe that is the reason why they use writing practice for human psychology in many fields of our lives: in hospitals, in prisons, at schools, etc.
How to Write in Order to Get Better
Writing practice is quite a powerful instrument, and you can hurt yourself seriously if not to keep up to certain safety measures. What do you need to take into account in order to make that writing really useful for your health? In other words, how to write in order to get better?
Pennebaker offers doing that the next way: first write expressively, and then write reflexively. What does it mean? Expressive writing is about you diving into a flow of your emotions and express them, just spill them on a paper without any self-censure, trying to catch your worrying with all its complicity and then to let it go. This means you write as it is. You do not need a beautiful text to come out as a result, you don’t even have to keep up to grammar rules and put commas. What is the most important is that you catch up the moment, that worries you the most in your memories or in the current moment of time.
Then, after a short break, you make a step back and look onto your text in another way, read it once more and take another position. You are not in that worrying flow, you got out of it, and now you reflect it and think it through thoroughly and consciously. In this position, you write about things you think were important during the process of writing: what feelings came to your mind, what understandings, how you feel at the moment, what was new for you, what wondered you or confirmed facts you knew about yourself and where it can lead you. Maybe, it can push you towards certain thoughts, actions, communication, deeds or inactivity…
You should not be afraid about someone to read your notes and then use words written by you against your interests somehow. So, if you decided to store your notes, think how to do that in order to stay safe.
Pay attention to one moment, too: the availability of a so-called “collocutor”, the internal one in this case. For someone they’re God, for others – a friend. This collocutor is free not to have a certain name or status. But when you write about your life and about things that matter for you, it is better to tune up for that companion, who will accept you for who you are: ashamed, unsatisfied with yourself, feared, full of doubts, etc.
Another rule to keep up to when writing about things that are important for you: it is not worth to dive too deep. You need to understand that you can “swim out” at any moment, come back to your everyday life. Do not make yourself stay in a state you feel feared and discomforted about. Let a paper or a screen become your safety latch: it is very difficult to write things you are not ready to accept yet.
Remember that you can go in for such a self-therapy not only when you have any problems and need to reflect some scary things on a paper. Writing about anything cheerful or just exciting is welcome.