Updated: Sep 16, 2021
In a world where we are bombarded with thoughts and opinions, we often make little time for our own.
Mental health providers are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Providers are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with insufficient tools and limited time to support their own mental wellness.
The good news? You don't need that much time to benefit from writing. In fact, you can practice wellness writing techniques in as little as 10 minutes that are proven to reduce anxiety, regulate emotions, increase awareness, and even speed up healing.
Joy recommends a few simple exercises that allow you to reflect, process, and move forward.
Park Your Day on the Page
Great for when you've had a day!
Joy tells us to think of writing as a balance. You don't want to write yourself into a panic. This can be managed with time constraints, lists, and balancing your stresses with where you're finding peace and tranquility. Parking your day on the page is a great way to achieve this.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Start writing about your day.
When the timer goes off, stop and physically turn the page.
Set a timer for 2 minutes and write about something positive. Try writing about something you are grateful for, something pleasantly unexpected, or something you are looking forward to in the future.
Perfect for focusing yourself when you have a bad feeling and providing structure and inspiration to your writing without any pressure.
Joy says the key to writing about difficulties is structure and containment.
The last thing we need when we're stressed is writer's block. Lists are a great way to engage without putting any more unwanted pressure on your brain.
Try making a list of 5-10 things. Try some of these examples:
5 things I am grateful for
5 things I am stressed about
5 things I am good at
5 things I am sad about
5 things I value in life
2. Reflect on your list(s)
Do you notice any themes?
What do you notice specifically?
Have you felt this before?
Did you do something about it?
Why or why not?
Did it work?
Based on what I notice in my list(s), am I getting what I need?
Am I getting enough of this? Too much?
Writing with Lists
A sustainable daily exercise
Lists bring form to our writing. Setting a time duration allows us to process without getting overwhelmed.
Make a list of 5-10 things
Choose 1 thing to write about for 5 minutes. Think of concrete sensory details. The smell, the taste, the noise, the visuals, and the tactile sensations.
Read and reflect on what you wrote
Jot down your reflection/thoughts/what you notice for 2 minutes
Getting Creative with Writing Prompts
A practice of calming and recentering
There are so many quick yet meaningful ways to use writing as a tool for healing. Joy recommends trying some of these creative ways to structure (and start) your 5-10 minute writes:
Choose 1 line from a poem as a writing prompt. We recommend Mary Oliver's poetry.
Write about something while you are experiencing it i.e. eat a peach while you are writing about eating the peach
Write a letter to someone and don't send it
Finish a sentence. For example, I have a dream...
You can write yourself into clarity.
By prioritizing a writing practice in our daily or weekly routines we can begin to take back control of our thoughts and feelings.
Writing allows us to gain a greater understanding of who we are and become more connected with our minds and bodies.
For more information on therapeutic writing techniques, prompts, and workshops check out The Center for Journal Therapy.