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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Reblogged this on Memoir Notes.
Interesting! Is that why I healed so quickly after my Gall Bladder op, even when I was under the general anaesthetic I was still thinking about writing!
How??? Please tell me you were not conscious at the time! 😀
No, I wasn’t conscious! I have been known to do without an dentist’s injection for fillings but that would be taking it too far! When I came to, it was the first thing I thought about so I assumed that I had my mind had been busily blogging while I was under the knife!
Lol – now *that’s* one dedicated blogger! 😀
It is taking it a bit far!
I will agree to a degree. It’s cathartic to release our pent up emotions on paper, plus great brain exercise. On the flipside, the longer we write, the bigger our hips can grow, lol. (If we don’t get up every hour and keep eating. 🙂
It’s like Ali said, we should get danger money for daring to do this occupation! 😀
LOL no kidding! 🙂
Hmmm… not sure about that. I stress regardless!
Sooo… imagine how stressed you’d be if you didn’t write! 😀
I’d have no fingernails left! 😀
This is a very timely post. Thank you.
Thank you and welcome! I’m glad you found it useful! 🙂
That’s cool! But what about RSI from typing, headaches from staring at a screen, hunched back, blood clots from sitting and not moving enough, not to mention weight gain from this sedentary occupation of ours? There may be benefits, and I’m glad to see that there are, but I think we should get danger money for daring to do this occupation!
BTW writing is cathartic; it has helped me cope during some very difficult times with my daughter’s syndrome.
The more I think of it, the more I agree! Danger money, huh? You have my attention! 😀
I started writing when going through a hard time professionally, with new ventures failing to take off and daily frustrations of epic proportions. So I, too, speak from experience, even it’s nothing compared to yours. 🙂
I’ve no doubt of the truth of you post, Nicholas. I’ve no doubt because I am one of those that writing keeps on the narrow path. I’d like to add that not only writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, but about one’s vision of redemption, love and hope can do so much for the individual that puts pen to paper.
A great point! Thanks for reminding us of that fact 🙂
This is so true. Writing indeed is another form of setting yourself free and letting your mind takeover your entire being. All of a sudden we become our own masters and we decide it all for ourselves. Even if it is for a few minutes, the bliss remains all through the day.
That is such a wonderful way of describing it! Thank you! 🙂
You are welcome Nicholas and thank you for having this piece of your mind published. 🙂
Writing helped me with my illness related depression.
I was, actually, thinking of your example when I was writing your post. 🙂
Thank you for this post! Couldn’t agree more about the power of writing!
Thanks and welcome! Yes, it’s wonderful how something so simple can have such a profound effect! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this.
Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment! It’s great to see you here (I follow your blog) 🙂
What encouraging news. Now we have another reason to write, our health! Thanks Nicholas for sharing!
Lol – to your health, then! 🙂
I’m glad to see that the research about this is finally getting public attention. Baikie and Wilhelm’s meta-analysis is a great article. I especially like that “Participants writing about imaginary traumas that they had not actually experienced, and therefore could not have inhibited, also demonstrated significant improvements in physical health (Greenberg et al, 1996)” [as cited by Baikie and Wilhelm]. That’s why I think it’s so important for writers not to get uptight about “the rules.”
And remember, eating chocolate has documented health benefits, too! 🙂
Wow, you really seem to be familiar with the research behind it!
I agree completely about the rules. Many of them miss the point – and it’s always sad when critics bring authors down because of some made-up rule.
Chocolate, huh? (munch munch)
I’ve always known this from my own experiences. Good to see it confirmed.
Indeed. Like Charles said, perhaps we should make it obligatory for people to keep a journal! 😀
“…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.” is my favorite part and the part I reblogged/shared everywhere. Thanks, Nicholas, for posting!
A pleasure. It is rather amazing how something so simple can have such a profound effect. Thank you for the reblog! 🙂
Reblogged this on Sally Ember, Ed.D. and commented:
“…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.” https://nicholasrossis.me/2014/10/19/writing-makes-you-healthy/
Interesting experiments and findings. Makes me think the world would be a better place if everyone kept a diary, wrote a book, or had a blog. 🙂
Now, there is a thought.
Interesting factoid: The Economist had a lovey feature on publishing this week. It mentioned worries about the “tsunami of crap” being as old as Gutenberg. Apparently, authors at the time complained that, with everyone able to publish, they’d have a flood of crappy books in their hands…
I’ve read a few articles that mentioned something similar. It’s like every innovation to publishing causes the same worry. Though there is a chance that such a tsunami does occur at first and dies down after the new system is proven not to be a sure moneymaker and novelty wears off.
I think it’s the birthing pains of the new paradigm, and the inevitable fear all change causes.
Birthing pains is a good name for it. Though I do remember there being more ‘crank out cheap, unedited books’ authors when I started last year. The flood seems to have died down, so maybe we’re at a point where the stigma will go away. Either way, all we can really do is put out good indie books and continue proving it’s a viable, quality publishing route.
I will publish a few posts inspired by the Economist, but here is the original article: https://www.economist.com/news/essays/21623373-which-something-old-and-powerful-encountered-vault
“At last spring’s London Book Fair there was a booth rented by eight authors who said that, between them, they had sold a staggering 16m books and spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller list—all without the help of a traditional publisher.
They are used to having their claims dismissed; Bella Andre, a self-published romance writer with an economics degree from Stanford, got so irked when a publisher challenged her heady sales figures that she took a picture of a bank statement and sent it to him.
“No one is counting our books in any survey that comes out in the media,” sighed Barbara Freethy, another romance writer. She says that, as of September, she has sold over 4.8m books.”
Impressive. Though I do note that the two authors quoted are romance authors and I’m willing to bet the other 6 are the same. That’s one thing that I can’t figure out with indie publishing. Romance is the King, Queen, and President of the realm while most other genres are below the radar. It keeps feeling like you need to have a romance focus in your book to get anywhere. I wonder if this means female readers are more curious than male readers since I know women are certainly the bigger book audience.
It might. Then again, I recently read an article that argued fantasy is a big thing, too. Kinda news to me, but I enjoyed being with the “in” crowd for a moment… 😀
News to me too. I’ve been having an uphill battle most of the year. I have seen a lot of fantasy books are doing a romance focus or at least using a cover that resembles something you’d find Fabio on. Maybe more in the genre are trying to combine the two since love stories with magic are rather classic. There’s also the fact that ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Hobbit’ are popular.
Hmm… I wonder if the movies is what the article had in mind. Plus, the whole Game of Thrones craze.
That is a double-edged sword. The craze brings people into the genre, but most of them want Game of Thrones clones. I’ve run into my share of them since I’m not even close to that type of story.
No wonder I am so healthy. *cough* Great post.
Lol – yes, it’s all thanks to our writing! 😀 *cough, sputter, creak, cough*
That’s great news Nicholas. I reblogged it on Musings On Life & Experience
Thank you so much for that! 🙂
You’re very welcome. 🙂
Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
This is great news, especially to bloggers.
Thanks and welcome! Yes, it’s quite amazing 🙂
Thanks and welcome! Love your email handle – alethia (truth in Greek) 🙂
Thank you and thank you 🙂 Wishing you well.
Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
Writing Makes You Healthy…thanks Nicholas Rossis!
Exccellent – I will re blog and yes writing does make us healthier:)
Thank you in advance for the reblog – and I agree completely 🙂
Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
An interesting alternative view on writing. 🙂
Finally! Some good news for writers. 🙂
Lol – the world is our oyster! 😀
This I never considered. What an eye-opener!
I know, right?? Thanks and welcome! 🙂
Reblogged this on Jo Robinson.
Nicholas – You are correct – I have to say you have such healthy and active post! Winning Award! Well Deserve!
Thank you! 🙂