We authors may be creative cheats, but is there any good news about our profession? Actually, yes! According to research cited by Arts.Mic, the benefits of writing go far beyond building up your vocabulary.
In fact, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. Just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
By writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, participants were significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma. Participants ultimately spent less time in the hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and had better liver functionality than their counterparts.
Even physical wounds heal faster. In 2013, New Zealand researchers conducted an experiment on 49 adults. The patients wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before a biopsy. Eleven days later, 76% of the group that wrote had fully healed, compared to only 42% of the control group. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress.
Even those who suffer from diseases such as asthma, AIDS and cancer can improve their health through writing: people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don’t; AIDS patients have higher T-cell counts and cancer patients have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life.
It’s possible that the health-giving effects of writing are because it allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.
The great news is that you don’t have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life’s most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. Indeed, one study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.
From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it’s official: We writers are doing something right.
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