I don’t write as often as I should, as often as I’d like to.
Writing, I’m told by medical researchers, is good for emotional, psychological, and even physical health. It’s like holistic super food for humans. It increases IQ and improves leadership efficacy. It reduces stress and anxiety. And it can provide an unexpected pathway to boost the immune system. This is especially true with expressive writing, says researchers at Cambridge University.
But like real food where the best nutrition is a proportionate balance of ingredients, it is not just any writing that brings benefits. For instance, continually writing angry words does not evidence healing. If the person writing does not demonstrate positive growth, promote healthy change, or result in deeper understanding, writing can actually have the opposite affect: no improvement or declining health. All this according to the American Psychological Association.
Americans have witnessed a similar phenomena in national political media coverage. Many information outlets have not been unbiased. Most of them have unapologetically taken sides and expressed some sort of anger or aggression toward the other side. How could this result in good? Remaining one-sided in thoughts and words without any intentional attempts at understanding, growth, or change has not moved the conversation in any positive direction. Imagine, how much better we would be as individuals, communities, and as a nation if we all had a more empathetic approach to neighbors and fellow citizens who feel or believe differently.
There are hundreds of studies out there, not all in complete agreement, as is the nature of scientific research. But the general consensus is that writing can heal and is one method of making us better.
When I do write, I like to make it meaningful or memorable to me and, hopefully, to those who read what I publish. It seems I may be doing it right according to my cursory review of the research. However, I assure you, it’s been mostly unintentional. I have rarely approached writing with the purpose of betterment. It’s mostly just me rambling. I’ve often proclaimed that most of the good things I’ve done in my life have happened by accident. Stumbling into good things, that’s how I role.
Hiking, backpacking, and my love of nature has been a similar story. I like doing it. It feels good and right with evidence of becoming a better me, like when I write. Both nature and writing are good for me on every meaningful level. It’s just coincidental that science agrees. So, go science!