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Writing is Healthy

Part of our mission at Stage of Life® is to help people find answers and make decisions in matters large and small. Recently, our staff researched writing and its influence over health. 

Interested in what we discovered?  Let's first talk about "stress":


STRESS (noun): physical, mental, emotional strain or tension or a situation, occurrence, or causing factor.

Humera Proctor, eLearning Instructional Designer from the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center spoke of stress...

“Stress is a part of life but how we deal with it is the key. Chronic stress can lead to long-term health issues which are the leading cause of death in the U.S. Teens lives are extremely busy and full of stress, but there are ways they can help themselves. Teens can identify what is causing them stress so they can avoid it if possible, prioritize their ‘to do’ list because there are only 24 hours in a day, getting enough sleep and relaxing and also by being optimistic and setting realistic goals.”

Because Stage of Life was built as a blogging, writing and "journaling" platform, we get emails nearly everyday from writers and bloggers who have found our blogging community inspiring, but could this inspiration that stems from blogging on StageofLife.com be healthy too?  Knowing stress is a negative factor in everyone's life, we investigated if writing could be a potential stress reliever, not just for teens, but for all us.

Here's what we found...



Did You Know?

1.   
Writing is Like Therapy
Have you ever written in a journal or kept a diary?  If you have, you were relieving stress while you wrote. RelishingLife.com tells us that, “When using writing as a therapy, during the process a person uses both hemispheres of their brain, which enables their experiences to become completely integrated into the mind.” Writing also relieves some symptoms of arthritis and asthma; helps improve cognitive functions and fortify the immune system.

A recent study shows that picking up a pen and paper, to write about your emotions will help reduce stress. This is called
expressive writing. Associatedcontent.com discusses the benefits of writing on your sleep habits. “Sleep is one of the most beneficial affects of writing about stress. Often time adults have problems sleeping at night because they cannot stop thinking about their financial worries, illnesses and children.”   

Proctor’s advice to de-stress—
www.Learntobehealthy.org is a great resource for health education, which include interactive stress management activities.  I believe writing/blogging/journaling is a great way to reduce stress for teens. It gives them a chance to describe what is overwhelming to them and by reading it they can reflect on how they are feeling and think of ways to solve their problem.”

Try this
...
  • Write for at least 20 minutes a day. You can do this here using your Stage of Life blog.  Expressive writing has health benefits: better sleep, better immune system, better cognitive function, and improvement in physical and emotional health, fewer doctors’ visits. Check out,  Are We too Wired to Sleep, an essay by Stage of Life’s Home Owner Editor, Bob, talks about the effects of electronic media on our ability to get a good night's sleep (which is important to every stage of life).
2.    Writing has Long Term Benefits
Not only does writing relieve stress, but also there are long-term health, social, and behavioral benefits to writing. Below are lists of positive outcomes that come from writing.



Health Outcomes

  • Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved lung function
  • Improved liver function
  • Fewer days in hospital
  • Improved mood/affect
  • Feeling of greater psychological well-being
  • Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
  • Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms

Social and Behavioral Outcomes

  • Reduced absenteeism from work
  • Quicker re-employment after job loss
  • Improved working memory
  • Improved sporting performance
  • Higher students’ grade point average
  • Altered social and linguistic behavior
Medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing programs
  • Lung functioning in asthma
  • Disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pain and physical health in cancer
  • Immune response in HIV infection
  • Hospitalizations for cystic fibrosis
  • Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain
  • Sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers
  • Post-operative course
3.   Stage of Life is Healthy

You may ask yourself, “Does this mean Stage of Life healthy?”  As a blogging community, we feel strongly that we are.  Rebecca Thiegs, M. Ed., Education Consultant for StageofLife.com and current high school Language Arts teacher at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, PA, expanded on Proctor's comments above, “We see examples of negative coping mechanisms everyday in the stories we examine in the classroom.  For instance, look at Holden Caulfield or Hamlet.  Both of these literary characters deal with stress in very destructive manners.  At StageofLife.com, we're working to give students a positive outlet, each and every day, to release stress through that process of writing and blogging.”


We came across one blogger, Meredith Walker, who complied a list of "77 Surprising Health Benefits of Blogging."  Her list includes both health and emotional benefits as Ms. Walker discusses how everything from mood to anxiety to depression to concentration to memory can be improved through blogging.


So the next time you submit an essay to your Stage of Life blog, just remember that you're helping reduce your stress.  That one thought alone makes our entire staff breath a big de-stress sigh.  Keep writing and blogging, we love reading your essays!

--Stage of Life Editorial Team

Additional Resources about Writing and Stess

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