Study Shows Creative Writing Reduces Stress

By Gina Catanzarite

Adolescent Girl with Head in HandsIf your stress levels are rising and your mood is plummeting, don’t reach for the chocolate—or any of the other vices people usually use to soothe themselves in times of trouble.

Reach for a paper and pen instead!

Experts have studied the connection between engagement in creative arts and stress reduction and results show that “emotional writing can influence immune function, stress hormones, blood pressure, and a number of social, academic, and cognitive variables.”  (Stuckey and Nobel, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health) Those findings held true across diverse cultures and age groups, meaning emotional writing can be a healthy activity for anyone.

I certainly don’t find that hard to believe. As long as I can remember, I’ve turned to writing to help me vent, sort out my feelings, and find healthy ways to move forward.  In fact, I’ve kept a journal every day of my life since I was 7 years old – and I’m 48 now!

From managing anger to dealing with sadness and even physical ailments, writing was shown to improve a range of physical and emotional conditions. Don’t believe it? Then I urge you to give therapeutic writing a try – and I mean the old-fashioned kind of writing done with a pen and paper!

In one of the experiments done in the study, participants were urged to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings on an important emotional issue. The only rule: Once you begin writing, continue to do so for 20 minutes straight!

Do not stop writing.

Do not pause to deliberate about what you should write next, or to temper or restrain or censor your feelings and how you want to express them.

In fact, don’t “think” at all! Let your most personal inner voice and intuitions guide you as you write and write and write for the full 20 minutes.

Then. . . sit back. And read what you wrote.

Do the words surprise you?  Identify an emotion you didn’t realize was simmering inside you?  Reveal an action you’d like to take to improve the situation?  Do you simply just feel better because you had the chance to vent?

In the words of the researchers who conducted this the study, “Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing.  Read more about the link between creative arts engagement and stress reduction at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/

Today’s Daily Dose of Creativity, brought to you by Teen Writer! and Luminari | Teen Writer! camps will boost teens’ creativity and we promise – no stress, just plenty of fun and energizing activities to encourage and improve writing techniques! Learn more about LUMINARI’S EXCITING TEEN WRITER! SUMMER CAMPS! Or sign up today,registration form online.

Gina CatanzariteGina Catanzarite is Owner of Arania Productions. She is the co-author of two non-fiction books and teaches broadcast journalism at Point Park University. And Gina is an Emmy Award-winning television producer, writer, family advocate and media consultant.

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