Expressive writing: a healthy outlet

Arifah Badlishah lists why journaling will change your life

Arifah Badlishah
22nd November 2019
Imagine writing three full pages by hand every single morning after waking up. This is an exercise called ‘morning pages’ proposed by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way - a classic bestselling book on creativity first published in 1992.

She defines morning pages as ‘spiritual windshield wipers’, and many advocates swear by this ritual - claiming the habit of letting it all out on paper helps declutter the mind and reduce anxiety. Now you might be thinking, “Writing academic essays are torturous enough, now you want us to fry our brain cells first thing in the morning?” but hear me out. There are several benefits of expressive writing whether you wish to write in the morning, afternoon, evening, or even the middle of the night:

  1. Increased mindfulness

We live in a modern world of hectic schedules and stressed minds. There is always new content to consume on our Facebook feeds every time we click the refresh button. Expressive writing helps you to take a step back, relax, and focus on the present.

With expressive writing, there is no holding back your feelings

It guides you to achieve clarity about the complicated things going on in your life. You might also want to consider writing on paper as you might be easily distracted by a notification or a message if you write on a digital device. After a long and tiring day, it feels amazing to vent to your journal - and no, it’s not just for 13-year-old schoolgirls! 

2. An emotional outlet

As humans, we experience a great range of emotions every single day, and if we bottle them up too much, we might end up turning into The Hulk. With expressive writing, there is no holding back your feelings of excitement when falling in love or your immense frustration with your flatmate's nasty habits.

Being able to emotionally express yourself well will do wonders for your mental health. You know that feeling when you are incredibly upset with someone but know you shouldn’t rage furiously at them? You can vent it all down on a Word document and delete it afterwards. Once you have cooled down, you can bring things up more diplomatically.

3. No filter and no fear of judgment

Even when you are tweeting on a private account with only 10 followers, you still filter your thoughts in one way or another. When you write for yourself, the only person who can judge you is yourself!

Your journal will never screenshot your controversial opinion and talk crap about you behind your back

Your journal will never screenshot your controversial opinion and talk crap about you behind your back. It is extremely therapeutic to be able to express yourself freely without worrying what anybody else thinks. Your writing is not going to be graded by a lecturer or read by anonymous keyboard warriors - do not worry about creating a masterpiece.

4. A cheap form of therapy

Expressive writing has long been used as a therapy method to ease stress and trauma. Writing helps one make sense of the messy muddle of life. There is scientific evidence of improved mood and working memory through writing. Academic research even shows benefits of expressive writing to physical health such as reduced blood pressure, improved immune system, and improved lung and liver functions.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and letting your thoughts flow uncensored. As the saying goes, "there is no wrong or right, just write!"

Featured Image: Pixabay @picjumbo_com

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AUTHOR: Arifah Badlishah
Media student | Lover of words, visuals, and ideas ✏️??

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