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3 Reasons Writing is Good for Your Mental Health

By: Jessica Stillman

In an age when many people get by never writing anything longer than a text message, you may have heard that clear written communication is a much in-demand business skill.

Companies are spending billions to bring their employees' writing skills up to snuff, while tons of executives and techies are urging young professionals to improve their skill with the written word for both the sake of their employers and their own personal professional advancement.

But it turns out these aren't the only reasons you should think seriously about finding time in your life to exercise your writing skills. Writing, according to a fascinating recent post from Gregory Ciotti on the Help Scout blog, isn't just good for your career, it's also excellent for your mental health.

In a post packed with references to recent scientific research, Ciotti lays out the case that "expressive writing" -- essentially some form of journaling -- has a host of more personal benefits, including but not limited to these:

Writing makes you happier.

Ciotti references a number of studies to back up his assertion that writing is great for your well being. For instance, one study out of Southern Methodist University revealed that writing about future goals makes you happier. Another showed jotting down thoughts in a journal can help those with stressful jobs cope with the pressure.

Writing can make you more resilient.

In line with the study about stressful jobs, other research demonstrates that similar forms of expressive writing (writing out your thoughts and feelings like in a diary) helps those coping with stressful situations such as unemployment.

Though Ciotti notes one significant caveat -- you have to want to write about your troubles for writing to lessen those troubles. "Forcing the process to happen may only worsen things, but if writing is an activity that is engaged in naturally, the benefits seem clear," he explains.

Writing clears your head.

Ciotti likens setting your thoughts down in writing to closing open browser tabs on your computer. "When I feel like my brain has too many tabs open at once, it's often the result of trying to mentally juggle too many thoughts at the same time," he explains. "Writing gives form to your ideas and gets them out of your head, freeing up bandwidth and preventing you from crashing your browser like a late night downward spiral on Wikipedia."

Check out the complete post for more information on other upsides of regular writing, including extending your leadership, encouraging gratitude, and learning more efficiently.

Do you find time in your life for regular writing?

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