Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Write Yourself Sane

eHow - How To Do Just About Everything eHow of the Day

How to Write Yourself Sane

by Michelle Vermillion Lawrence

The power of the pen has been known for years. In the 1800s Lord Byron wrote, "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." Diaries and journals have been kept for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1960s that the therapeutic value of journal writing was recognized. After studying at the C.G. Jung from the New School for Social Research in New York City, psychologist Ira Progoff began holding workshops called the Intensive Journal method, which helped clients to heal psychologically by writing about their life experiences.

Writing as a therapeutic outlet continues today to offer healing and solace for those willing to delve into their own psyche. In the Academy Award nominated movie "Precious," an abused 16-year-old sorts through her life's trauma at the urging of a teacher to write down her pain, feelings and abuse. Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire, "Precious" wields a heart-wrenching truthful conclusion: writing nourishes the soul and powers from within.

Writing is not only for mental clarity; it also offers physical health. Researcher James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, found benefits to the immune system for individuals who wrote for just 20 minutes per day over three or four days on a topic that is emotionally difficult. Pennebaker's studies indicate that the release offered by writing has a direct impact on the body's capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease. After the publication of Pennebaker's studies, the medical and counseling fields began looking at journal writing as a non-medicinal approach to wellness.

Writing also appears to help students grow academically. In the 1980s, public schools began using journals to encourage students to ponder academic questions as a way to improve independent thinking skills. While the students benefit from committing their thoughts to paper, teachers use the journals as a means to help students academically or emotionally on an individual basis.

Writing is a powerful tool--tap into its benefits.

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