Notebook pages folded into a heart-shape

For centuries, people have kept journals, written poetry and told stories to help enrich their daily lives. Instinctively, perhaps, they knew that these activities had healing properties. These days, we’re increasingly seeking – and seeing – proof of writing’s healing capabilities, as exciting new research is undertaken and experiences are shared.

Writing for wellbeing offers the chance to release emotions, express unspoken thoughts and to better understand ourselves and the world. It can help to build confidence, spark creativity and can even promote physical healing and health.

Writing for wellbeing is versatile; it comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as brain-dumping thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper so that the page now carries the emotions and the mind is relieved. Or it can involve going on a journey through the creative process to craft a poem or story that captures part of our life experience.

Alongside the writing, is a process of reflecting – and, where we feel able, sharing too. Once we have our words in front of us, we can look over them and think on what they mean to us. Sharing these words with other people can bring about new insights. Perhaps the other person notices a theme in our story that we were unaware of, and perhaps that theme can help us to understand a part of ourself or our life that had been a mystery before.

Of course, it is not always necessary to have other people actively reflect on our writing. Sometimes, all we need is for someone to just listen – hearing and validating our words by listening attentively and with empathy.

Writing for wellbeing is about creating space and making connections. It is about the process – not the final product. It is about travelling to new places and discovering new parts of ourselves, all with the help of the humble pen and piece of paper.

What is writing for wellbeing?