Have you ever considered turning to art therapy and more specifically writing for personal therapy? Writing therapy is an easy way to take care of your mental and physical health. Indeed, writing gives you the opportunity to settle back and reflect on what you desire deep inside yourself. Do you want to take stock of years past, put feelings or memories on paper, or set yourself goals? Creative writing is an ideal exercise.
7 benefits of writing as art therapy for retirees
After hundreds of studies on the subject, the benefits of writing therapy have been demonstrated time and time again. According to a Harvard Medical School study, writing is a great way to deal with loneliness. A University of Arizona study on narrative writing found that writing a story lowers heart rate and stress levels. The list of benefits goes on…
The benefits of writing are many and you will be agreeably surprised by their extent. By writing, you:
- Develop your creativity
- We all have creative potential within us. You just have to give it room to emerge. To be creative isn’t only to be a painter, actor or musician. Scientists are creative in their way. You may well think of your creativity as an exercise. Give it a few minutes a day at first if it unsettles you a bit. Very quickly, you will see for yourself that you too can be creative!
- Stimulate your memory
- Writing the story of periods of your life will allow you to pick up the thread of your memories, whether they be recent or distant. What better exercise to stimulate your cognitive functions?
- Better manage your emotions
- Who among us has not had the experience of feeling an emotion and feeding it by obsessively thinking about it? Writing allows us to undo the knots. Set down your worries and your emotions on paper and you will feel a great weight lift.
- Visualize yourself in the future
- Write down your projects! Don’t let them lie sleeping in your head. Writing them down will make them tangible. Write about your next travel destination: imagine the weather, the restaurants where you taste the local specialty… In a nutshell, visualize. Relaxation guaranteed!
- Reduce your stress levels
- Expressing yourself in writing allows you to step back from anxiety-inducing situations and take stock of your thoughts.
- Alleviate your loneliness
- Have you developed a taste for your writing exercises? Why not participate in an online workshop?
- Improve the quality of your sleep
- Once unburdened of your thoughts that go ’round and ’round – the famous little hamster – you will fall asleep much more easily.
Writing therapy exercises with healing properties
The book Je cultive mon bonheur par l’écriture-thérapie (I Cultivate My Happiness Through Writing Therapy), published by Goélette, invites you throughout its pages to take stock, to take a step back from life’s ups and downs to sort out your emotions. In this way you will better understand your deeper “I” and clarify your idea of happiness. The aim is to put into words, on paper, the concrete ways that you can advance towards complete personal development. Here are two interesting exercises proposed in the book.
Make a gratefulness list
With this first exercise, express your gratitude to life for all that happens to you that is good. Speak directly to life to say how you appreciate what it has brought you. It is a way of realizing how much you already have that comforts you.
Make a list of people to whom you would like to say thank you and why you want to do so. These may be people you meet in your daily life or only occasionally, who have helped you, who you have known for a long time or even members of your family… All the people you think about who have had a positive impact on your life.
Write a list of your small daily pleasures
The second exercise consists of reflecting on small pleasures that mark your day and making a list of them. Reading in pyjamas while drinking tea, eating in a favourite restaurant, listening to your favourite song on the radio, going to bed later than normal because you’re listening to a gripping series… These are examples of the simple, small moments when we feel joy! Cultivating our happiness is daily work and in order that it grow and flourish it needs these small pleasures: they dot our days, make us smile, allow us to relax, in our own way!
This month, give them a more important place in your daily life because they are the fertilizer that feeds your happiness. After making the list of all your small pleasures, treat yourself to one every day.
Speaking of which, take the opportunity to make writing part of your wellness routine. Enjoy some peaceful time in the early morning or in the evening before bed and let your pen race across the paper. Little by little, you will develop the habit until it becomes a daily exercise that you will not be able to do without.
Writing workshops with Janette Bertrand
Janette Bertrand, journalist, actor and writer, has devoted her life to writing. At the age of 95, she offered writing lessons to more than 500 seniors during the first-wave lockdown under the auspices of the “Ecrire sa vie!” project, started by the Avant Âge program at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM).
She accompanied the participants, virtually, throughout a series of eight workshops on autobiographical writing in order to guide them in writing their life stories during the unusual period of the global pandemic.
Watch the eight capsules to write your memoirs and share them with your loved ones.
To sum up, writing therapy is a formidable wellness tool that can only contribute to good mental and physical health. Powerful reducer of stress, engine of creativity, it helps you manage your emotions and improves your cognitive functions.
This is an exercise that you can practice daily, alone or in a group, in a workshop.
To your pens!
Sources cited in this article:
1. Writing as an antidote to loneliness. Available online https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/writing-as-an-antidote-to-loneliness-2018091414807
2. Narrative Journaling May Help Heart's Health Post-Divorce. Available online https://news.arizona.edu/story/narrative-journaling-may-help-hearts-health-postdivorce