Dealing with stress or anxiety? Sit down and write!

79% percent of Americans experience stress frequently throughout their day. Pair that with the fact that stress can actually be deadly, and our stressed-out society has a problem. 

But generally, stress is a normal response to certain situations, and humans are used to it. So much so that everyone has their own way of dealing with stress. Some of us binge eat, some of us go for a run, and yes, some of us write. 

Creative writing can help reduce stress and anxiety in a number of surprising ways. 

When you’re feeling stressed, the last thing you might think to do is to sit down and write a poem or short story. After all, for most people, writing can be time-consuming, difficult, and requires a level of mental activity that seems exhausting. 

But you’ll be surprised just how much creative writing can aid in allowing your body and mind to de-stress, while overall increasing your feelings of well-being. 

You’ve probably already heard the term “art therapy” before, and the concept of writing therapy is no different! Writing, like art, requires the use of creativity and imagination to create an expressive work. 

In this study, it was reported that 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body. That same logic can be applied towards creative writing, which is a form of art. 

Creative writing can encompass journaling, poetry, short stories, prose, songwriting, and any other type of writing that allows you to use your imagination.

And the good news? 

You don’t have to be an aspiring author, or even a great writer, to reap the benefits! You don’t even have to feel like you’re particularly creative. In fact, you’re probably giving yourself less credit than you deserve because the reality is that everyone is creative in their own way. 

So how can you leverage those creative skills in a way that’s beneficial for your well-being? Just get to writing!

Let’s take a look at how writing can help you feel less stressed out the next time you’re having a really bad day. 

1). Writing Can Provide a Constructive Escape 

You can’t escape your problems. Or can you? 

Too often in our society, we give the idea of escape a bad wrap through our negative connotations. 

But sometimes escape can be a good thing. Especially if a temporary escape is constructively allowing you to remove yourself from any problem or issue you’re facing in that moment, and diffuse. 

We often dedicate exhaustive amounts of mental activity to our problems – so what if we channeled that mental activity into creating another world through our storytelling? 

Creative writing can provide a temporary distraction, while also improving your mood and decreasing anxiety. Why? Because it takes your mind off of the immediate problems and harmful thoughts that would otherwise engulf you. 

And when you’re ready to return to the real world, you’ll likely find that you feel a lot better and are more adept at tackling any issues with a fresh perspective.

2). Writing Helps You Release Feelings and Emotion

Bottling up our feelings and processing emotions in a toxic way ends up harming us more than the original stress probably did in the first place. 

Journaling, and other forms of creative writing, can provide a safe place for you to let go of any bottled emotions and obsessive thought patterns. You can experience genuine self-expression through writing, without fear of judgment or over-analysis.

Even if you’re not directly writing about your feelings, you’d be surprised at how much your thought pattern affects the concepts you write about. 

Let’s take creative writing in the form of poetry as an example. The subject matter of any poem can be analyzed, and might reveal a lot about the author’s mode of thinking, perspective, and/or internal feelings.

Apply that same logic to your own creative writing, and there you have it – writing can be used as a healthy form of self-expression.

3). Writing Allows You to Self-Reflect 

Whether you realize it or not, you’re sharing a piece of yourself when you participate in the creative process. So when you sit down to write your story, it’s almost like wearing your heart on your sleeve.

The golden nuggets usually come after you’ve re-read what you’ve written, especially if you do it with fresh eyes. You’ll find that the work you’ve created allows you to reflect on yourself

It helps you to be conscientious and mindful, and gives you a clear, focused idea of who you are in the present state. It can even help you observe things about yourself that you weren’t aware of before.

Self-reflection is a powerful practice, and when paired with creative writing, it can strengthen your perspective. 

Tips For Using Creative Writing to De-Stress

Want to try your hand at creative writing, but not sure how? It’s simple, really. 

All it requires is a pen and paper (or laptop), a quiet space where you can focus, and an open mindset from you. It’s all about your preferences, so do whatever gets you comfortable and ready to write!

For help focusing, take some deep breaths, set some calming music, grab a cup of coffee, and get cozy in your favorite chair. 

If you’re not sure what to write about, start with these ideas: 

Once you start writing, you might be surprised at how quickly your stress melts away as you get in your creative zone. 

The next time you feel stressed, leverage some of your creativity and start writing. Set a timer, allow yourself to focus on your story, and get lost in your imagination.

As your words flow out, your stress will, too.