Writing is not just for writers, it is for everyone. It is human nature to write.
Writing letters, emails, social media posts, diaries, are all forms of mindfulness translated into the written (or typed) word, for while you are focusing on writing, you are very much in the moment.
Tartatovsky suggests there are three types of therapeutic writing
Free writing, sometimes called journalling is writing exactly what is on your mind, rather like a personal diary. There’s no self-censorship as you are writing for you, not for anyone else. If you have ever kept a diary, you probably realise that you record events and feelings then never revisit them. So, it does not have to be about reflecting on your words, rather simply cascading them out. Writing it down is the reflection. There is catharsis in the process.
Sometimes, it is suggested that journalling should not be about true feelings and negativity, but needs to be positive. Either way can work, or even a combination of the two.
Research suggests writing positively, even for two minutes a day, can improve mood. Writing about happy moments can reduce stress and anxiety.
It is not for everyone, but its power is in its simplicity. Any of us can write at any time, anywhere, if we wish to.
Poetry has long been known for natural healing. There is a phenomenally good Future Learn course based on Literature and Mental Health which includes a good deal of poetry, and is highly recommended (by me). You do not have to be Byron to write poetry; nor do you have to concern yourself with form. If it works for you, use it.
Letter writing means taking an interest in someone else, which is the key – looking outside oneself, rather than inwardly. Certainly, we have probably all have written the ‘not sent unfinished business’ letters mentioned in Tartatovsky’s article, finding them very therapeutic in dealing with past slights, hurts and upsets.
Reading is also very powerful bibliotherapy. The healing power of books is well recognised as “literary caregiving”. Never underestimate the power of a good book to make you feel better.