We are living in unprecedented times as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe [written in March 2020]. Countries are going into lockdown, people are in self isolation and there’s restrictions on movement. It is scary. Many of us are struggling with the reality of this situation and our mental health and wellbeing is suffering as a result. But there are simple ways you can look after your mind and one of them is by writing. Read on to find out more about how writing is good for your mental health.
Across the UK, people are experiencing working from home for perhaps the first time. Without a daily commute, suddenly there are extra hours in the day. Not only that, but with entertainment facilities closing as well as bars and restaurants having to shut, our evenings become very contained within the confines of our homes. At first, all that extra time will be used up by keeping up to date with the news and catching up on chores around the house. But as time goes on and we settle into this ‘new normal’ we’ll be looking for other activities to do. We’ll be looking for things to keep our minds occupied and this is where writing comes into play.
Writing is Good for the Soul
Writing, is not just about writing with a view to getting it published. Many people write purely for their own enjoyment and never share it with anyone. Fan-fiction and journalling are both worthwhile pursuits, providing an outlet for self expression and even fun.
In these difficult times, many of us will be filled with stress and anxiety. Perhaps even fear. So starting a regular journal practice is a great thing to do right now. The act of writing is good for your mental health in that you can get all your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. We often find once we’ve written the worries, they may seem smaller, more manageable or even illogical. When we know we’ve given those worries validation by writing them out, it also provides a calming effect to the mind as you don’t feel you have to carry that thought around with you.
Journalling can be done either on paper or even on a private blog online such as www.blogger.com. Plan a set time of day where you will just write everything and anything that comes to mind (this is called free-writing). It doesn’t matter if you keep writing the same things everyday, the most important thing is that you’re getting it out of your head.
Writing for Gratitude
When you are fearful, it can feel like the whole world is on your shoulders and your mind is spinning. Ground yourself and find your centre by writing about things you are grateful for. Counting your blessings is a wonderful way of writing to improve your mental wellbeing as it highlights everything you already have, rather than focusing on what you lack or what is out of your control. Give it a try and write down what you’re thankful for at the end of each day. Then, when you’re having a bad day, go back and reread some pages. You’ll soon find the benefits and see that writing is good for your mental health in so many ways!
Writing for Fun
Here are a few ideas of types of writing you could do as an activity for fun. These will all bring you some enjoyment and some can even be done as a group activity (with your children for example). Writing doesn’t have to be a serious pursuit with the aim of getting a publishing deal. Writing can be purely for fun and that is crucial to keeping our mental health on track.
Fan-fiction: What happened to your favourite characters in that book/TV show after it finished? Fan-fiction is a really fun and easy way into writing as it revolves around something you already find enjoyment in and by continuing the story you are exercising your creative muscles.
Poetry: Show someone you love them by writing a poem from the heart. Or perhaps give yourself a mental workout by creating a poem in rhyming couplets without using the internet or books to help you find rhyming words – it’s hard than you think! For the ultimate challenge, try writing nonsense poetry in the style of Spike Milligan!
Fiction: Try coming up with your own unique story and get lost in the world you create. This is a wonderful type of escapism that will give you somewhere to go mentally when you are struggling with what you’re facing in reality. It doesn’t have to be shared with anyone else, although if you do feel like you want to pursue publishing your story, there’s a whole host of options available to you now such as self publishing and hybrid publishing.
Follow Your Dream
Have you ever dreamed of writing a book? The answer is most likely going to be, yes! So many of us dream of writing a book but only a small percentage of the population actually manage to write one. This could be the perfect opportunity to make a start.
If you’d like to write fiction, start by mapping out ideas for your story. Who are your characters? Find out their back story. What is their goal and motivation in your story? Has something happened to them? Spend time getting to know your characters and it will make the writing process flow much easier.
For non-fiction, whether it’s for a subject of interest or related to your business, you need to draw upon your own knowledge. Break it down into an easy to digest format for your reader. Depending on the subject matter, don’t be afraid to go in depth or complex. Similarly, if you have a plan for a series, it’s okay to simplify if necessary. Ensure you make a plan before you start though, so you know what you want to talk about.
So there you have it. If you didn’t think writing is good for your mental health, I hope we’ve highlighted some ways it can work for you. Whether that is by having fun or expressing yourself creatively, or if it’s to help you release your anxiety and worries by getting it down onto paper. Whatever reason you choose to write, we’d love for you to give it a try and see if it helps. Let us know in the comments if you have a go!