Monday, October 13, 2014

The Written Word: Good Medicine For What Ails You

I love it when science proves something I already believe to be true. Check this out from Scientific American:
Blogging--It's Good for You
The therapeutic value of blogging becomes a focus of study
May 19, 2008 By Jessica Wapner 
Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not..... 
....Whatever the underlying causes may be, people coping with cancer diagnoses and other serious conditions are increasingly seeking—and finding—solace in the blogosphere. “Blogging undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to expressive writing, says Morgan, who wants to incorporate writing programs into supportive care for cancer patients. Continue reading here. 
Here's a more recent article, this found in Scientific American September 15th 2014:
Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write
by Rachel Grate 
Expressive writing is known to help assuage psychological trauma and improve mood. Now studies suggest that such writing, characterized by descriptions of one's deepest thoughts and feelings, also benefits physical health.....continue reading here
Journaling my life with Sjogren's Syndrome has without a doubt provided me innumerable but also intangible benefits. It's hard to explain, but I'll try.

When I write a post in which I discuss a problem, as I hit the "publish" button I feel better somehow. I think maybe the process of changing feelings into words, and hopefully words that form a coherent sentence, is another way for me to mentally process and digest the realities of living with autoimmune disease.  As I look at a published post, I feel as though my experiences and concerns are legitimatized somehow and when a reader echoes the same feelings, that sense of authenticity is multiplied at least by a factor of ten: It's not just me. This is real. Someone else feels the way I do and shares the same struggles.

Do you blog? Do you keep a journal? Is it proving to be helpful to you?


Kate S said...

I'll add another way that it probably helps you. Given your career as a nurse, my guess is that you like to help others.

And by blogging, you do help others. We realize we're not the only ones going through this. We laugh and smile at the silly things you are willing to share with us, we marvel at the Christmas displays and your photos, and we enjoy your great sense of humor.


Christina said...

Absolutely! It helps me process and finding that others feel the same or have shared an experience. I'm glad to see it's scientifically proven.

I also keep a journal for ideas, feelings, drawings and just writing.

Jane said...

Thanks for posting this, Julia. I indeed feel the same way when I put something out on my blog. I think people fear we will feel worse by "dwelling" on our issues by writing about them, but it's good to know that our anecdotal experiences are backed up by fact. Getting in touch with others who feel as we do is so healing in my opinion!

All the best,

Elibetsybri said...

Thank you for this, Julia.

I am just trying myself to understand if I should start a blog. In the past, writing has been my unique way to process life and my feelings.

During these uncertain times I felt the need again to express myself in writing.

I agree in that writing improves general health and mood.

Do you blog often? Is there an added value in writing 'in public'?

I so treasured, as a teenager, the power of a diary of my own. Only accessible to me and to whomever I deemed worthy of my private written world.