What is writing for self-care?
Writing as a part of self-care is a way to express yourself! Through writing, you can reflect on your emotions and thoughts by cataloguing them. One way to do this is to use specific prompts, questions, or activities to practice self-writing with an underlying goal or objective. You can also journal and write your thoughts down without any prompt. The medium we use to write can also vary from pen and paper to digital forms of written communication.There is no right way to practice writing as a self-care exercise. Writing helps improve and maintain your emotional & mental well being and it can be a subjective experience for each of us!
Multiple studies have been undertaken to understand the impact of writing on an individual's perceived stress, productivity & academic performance. The results show significant improvement in individuals who have practiced writing for self-care. Many therapists might also recommend writing as an intervention. It is a simple yet useful tool as it requires minimal resources, is highly accessible and available and is paced differently for each of us. Writing provides for a means of catharsis or a method to vent one's deepest feelings & emotions.
In innumerable writing pieces from the past, it is evident that pen and paper were used as a means to cope with internal & external environments. Be it Anne Frank's diary during the Holocaust or Jane Austen's critique on social norms, their writings are not just literature; they add value to the readers and of course, to the writers themselves.
Different Writing Techniques
Journaling often involves recording significant activities and experiences in one’s life, along with our thoughts and feelings about these events. It becomes an account of personal history and can help the writer understand and improve on the various aspects of their life. This can be used as an umbrella form of writing, which can then include other forms of writing.
Creative writing takes the shape of prose, poetry, fiction or nonfiction; anything that stimulates your imagination! This form of writing has been part of our culture in the form of folklore and fables which serve many purposes. Some look to invoke inspiration, while others create a sense of reflection & introspection. You can use this form of writing to let your imagination break free from reality or to express your perspective in a creative manner.
This technique involves openly expressing thoughts, feelings & emotions on one's significant stressors throughout their life. The focus here is exclusively on the situations triggering specific actions or feelings, leading to stress. This writing method can help manage stress and identify the underlying cause and triggers for stress.
This method of writing is specifically for penning down thoughts on what they one is grateful for. The aim is to focus on the positive aspects of life, things or people we are thankful to have. This technique can help you develop a positive outlook, while enhancing & maintaining healthy self-esteem.
One can think of affirmation writing as a manifestation of a person’s wishes, motivation, intentions & expectations. This writing tool helps pave the way to change deeply rooted ideologies and bring a fresh, new perspective to the writer. Using this technique, you can initiate change, both mentally and behaviorally.
Which form of writing should you choose?
It is first important to note that the list above is not exhaustive. If these writing techniques do not seem to work for you, feel free to explore more. You must first recognize the overall goal you have set for yourself. Based on the goal, you can choose one or a combination of writing tools to support your self-care routine. When in doubt, do reach out and ask for help! If any of the exercises seem to affect you negatively, pause and seek professional help if needed.