Daily Reflective Writing is Good for Your Mental Health

Recently, I finished Anna Quindelin’s Write For Your Life (2022). It was a great read and I covered the text quickly. What she wrote really resonated with me from a writing perspective.

I’ve been writing daily for the last five years! It’s a long time. However, I’ve found that since I’ve been doing this I’ve been able to handle life’s challenges better. I had a health crisis in 2017, which luckily, was resolved with surgery and the ovarian tumor I had was benign. I started a job in 2019 (one that I thought would be my dream job) and quit within nine months because it was not a good fit, essentially because it was not as advertised. I went back to graduate school and obtained a second master’s degree, entirely online and in a different discipline at 54 years of age in 2018.

I’ve had two sons graduate from high school during those five years. College for my youngest was planned and not pursued after being admitted to his first choice university (2020 grad) but started his own business instead. College for our middle son has been started, stopped, and started again only to be interrupted by the pandemic. He’s a hands-on learner; that’s hard to do when you can’t go to class or be in a laboratory in person. Now, he’s working full-time with benefits. My third son finished an undergraduate degree in 2017 and immediately started graduate school. He finishes with his discipline’s terminal degree this summer. Of course, these are not my stressors but as their mom, they can feed my anxiety, which in turn, increases my stress. I’ve learned to let the need to control go and I think I have my writing to thank, in part.

We lost two pets. Our cats, Lewis and Clark, passed away from old age. And, we got a puppy who is now a full-grown, three-year-old Labrador Retriever that most of our friends and family have come to love. We cannot imagine life without her.

My in-laws passed away and my parents have both had health crises during the five years I’ve been writing. My mom was in the hospital for a total of 55 days last fall. My parents live 880 miles away in New York State. I went and lived with my dad while she was intensive care (8 days) and then in a step-down unit/rehab care for another week before she got into a nursing home. She’s been at home with my dad since early November. Her recovery is nothing short of amazing.

And, now, we’ve sold our house of sixteen years and are preparing to move this Friday (tomorrow). I’ve had enough psychology courses to know that there’ve been some major life stressors while I’ve been writing each day for my blog. Writing every day has helped me to process these life events and my reaction to them. My blog has served as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. And, I’m better for letting these thoughts and feelings out onto the page.

Why am I better for writing daily?

I fester less. By letting my thoughts and emotions out on the page, I am expressing myself. Of course, this leaves me vulnerable too because of the public nature of blogging. But, writing reflectively is being vulnerable with myself, is it not? If I’m really being honest with myself, it is.

I think about my relationships and how I can make them better. I want to be a good listener and communicator, caring about how my friends and family are doing not just blabbering on about myself. If I am frustrated with a particular relationship, I can usually work through it by getting my thoughts and emotions on the screen. Sometimes, I don’t share these but the writing helps nonetheless.

I think about my creativity and what I need to feed that side of myself. Sometimes, the answers come through my writing. The people I feel know me best ask about my creative ventures. This is revealing to me as not everyone is a creator nor thinks to ask about how my creative soul is doing – especially in times of stress. The people that ask are those that truly “get me.”

I see how I’ve moved away from the need to control everything. Accepting others’ ways of being and doing is healthier than trying to twist and shout them into doing what I think should be done. I am more accepting of how others learn, do, and life than I was before I started writing each day.

My frustrations are lower. By pouring out my feelings and thoughts on my blog, I let the frustrations out. This act reduces the festering anger, hurt, and sadness; there is less resentment, but more gratitude. I feel more joy when I write because there is more room to feel it after letting the frustrations go. Ahhhh-h!

And, lastly, I feel like I know and understand myself better because of my daily writing habit. By writing, I am documenting my existence on this tiny blue planet. I am leaving something behind for my boys, family, and friends to recall about me and our lives. Quindlen writes about this in her book. If this post has interested you, I would recommend reading her book. It’s short.

In essence, my mental health has improved through my daily writing habit. It’s free. It’s private if you wish it to be and there are few side-effects with the exception of some misspellings, typos, and lack of conventions. I think I can live with those.

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