Writing can serve as a therapeutic and creative outlet. More specifically, journaling offers opportunities for expression and reflection and can help those going through a cancer diagnosis process the emotions and loss that come with the territory. Writing isn’t necessarily just for the patient either. It is a powerful tool that can be useful for families, caregivers, and children.
There is no right or wrong way to start this mindful practice. Set aside 10 minutes during your day, it could be the first thing when you wake up (before you pick up your phone and start scrolling through news and emails), or it can be during your lunch break or in the evenings as part of your nighttime routine. Writing can take on many forms such as journaling about your day, keeping a gratitude journal, or even making lists of all of the accomplishments from the day (think – opposite of a “to-do” list!).
Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that writing and journaling can have numerous benefits and help:
Cope with depression
It can also improve mood by:
Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
So how do you get started? It’s simple. Set a timer and let your mind relax as you write your stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about penmanship, grammar, or punctuation. Writing helps us make sense of our lived experiences. It can help us process what we are going through as well as provide an outlet for decompressing.
Whether it is journaling or writing expressive poetry, it is a beautiful and therapeutic art form that we encourage you to try!
If you are stuck on what to write about, try any of these writing prompts:
Three things I value about myself are….(perfect for fostering abundance and self worth)
I feel like myself when…(one of my very faves and a great way to get to know your inner self)
I would love to get some support with…(if you're trying to do it all on your own but it's just not happening)
Over the past 20 years, a growing body of literature has demonstrated the beneficial effects that writing about traumatic or stressful events has on physical and emotional health. The immediate impact of expressive writing is usually a short-term increase in distress, negative mood and physical symptoms, and a decrease in positive mood compared with controls. Expressive writing participants also rate their writing as significantly more personal, meaningful and emotional. However, at longer-term follow-up, many studies have continued to find evidence of health benefits in terms of objectively assessed outcomes, self-reported physical health outcomes and self-reported emotional health outcomes. Read More.
Some of us think that writing is only for writers. But writing is for all of us. As Julia Cameron notes in her book The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, “I believe we all come into life as writers.” Writing can be beneficial for all of us, because it can be therapeutic. One of the most powerful parts of therapy is cultivating the ability to observe our thoughts and feelings, said Elizabeth Sullivan, a licensed marriage and family therapist in San Francisco. And that’s what writing helps us do. “Most of us do not think in complete sentences but in self-interrupted, looping, impressionistic cacophony,” she said. Writing helps us track our spinning thoughts and feelings, which can lead to key insights (e.g., I don’t want to go to that party; I think I’m falling for this person; I’m no longer passionate about my job; I realize how I can solve that problem; I’m really scared about that situation.) Writing is “speaking to another consciousness — ‘the reader’ or another part of the self. We come to know who we really are in the present moment,” she said. Read More.
Seeking counseling from a therapist is one of the most common recommendations for people who are struggling to cope with a recent emotional upheaval or with past traumas. Yet writing therapy, or expressive writing, has proven to be a powerful, free, and easily accessible remedy for both the mind and the body. Read More.
In 1986 the psychology professor James Pennebaker discovered something extraordinary, something which would inspire a generation of researchers to conduct several hundred studies. He asked students to spend 15 minutes writing about the biggest trauma of their lives or, if they hadn’t experienced a trauma, their most difficult time. Read More.