Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Write Yourself Sane


I find an article that might not only help kids grow academically and emotionally, but also adults!



How to Write Yourself Sane

By Michelle Vermillion Lawrence, eHow Contributing Writer
(61 Ratings)

Write Yourself Sane
Write Yourself Sane
How to Write Yourself Sane
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.

Difficulty: Moderate

  1. Step 1
    Write to release pain or express joy.

    Use writing as a way to release your feelings, both current or in the past. If suffering from a past traumatic event, it may be useful to consult with a therapist who can help guide your writing for focused, effective results. If journaling on your own, you can start to write what ails you by completing sentences such as: "It hurts when..." or "It makes me angry when..." or "I feel... when..."

    Writing is also a way to share with yourself the joys of living. Expressing gratitude, happiness, love or elation about your daily happenings or special events is just as important as writing to heal.

    Whether it is to release pain or express happiness, writing validates your feelings regarding the events of your life.

  2. Step 2
    Set aside time to write.

    Setting aside a small amount of time each day helps establish the routine of writing. Use writing to start your day, setting down goals or ideas, or in the evening to offer closure to your day. Research shows that continued writing about a particular issue offers improved health, release of stress and resistance to certain diseases.

    However, remember this is an exercise in forgiveness and acceptance of self, so don't get down on yourself if you don't write every day. Keeping a journal can help you get through a difficult time such as the death of a loved one; to document an important part of your life, such as a pregnancy; or simply to record the daily happenings of your existence. You can start writing today, stop writing tomorrow and the pick up writing again when it suits you. Writing is not meant to be another item on your "to do" list, but rather an investment in yourself--an investment in which you reap the rewards.

  3. Step 3
    Resist the urge to be afraid of your feelings.

    Starting to write about your feelings may be the most difficult first step to take. Having feelings of embarrassment, shame, anger or lust can be uncomfortable, but watching these words being jotted down on paper or being typed across the computer screen can suddenly feel as if your giving them life. Breathe! Clarity comes from making sense of these feelings. The mind is at rest when there is understanding to your thoughts. These words or entries are for your eyes and heart only. You control who sees them. Take measures to safeguard your writing if you feel your privacy is threatened. Writing allows you to make connections between your experience, your past and your future. Writing is your perception of your world.

  4. Step 4
    Find focus in your writing.

    Once you have been writing for awhile, reread your entries. Do you notice any patterns? Does a certain person seem to aggravate you or give you joy? Do certain situations bring stress or happiness? Your writing is a peek in to the inner you. Writing allows the unedited version of your life to appear; the feelings you have put on paper are not right or wrong. They are an acknowledgment of your humanity in any given situation. Once you have acknowledged who you are by rereading your writing, you can take steps to have more of those happy days and brainstorm ways to better handle the not-so-good times. Remember, writing offers acceptance for all of you. You're a work in progress; be kind and gentle to your growing soul.

  5. Step 5
    Decide what you will do with your writing.

    You can keep your entries for continued review or purge them. Rereading your entries offers clarity and the opportunity to grow. You may be amazed to see how your opinion or feelings about a particular issue or crisis changes over time. Rereading is for self-acceptance. It offers the opportunity to see where you have come and where you would still like to go.

    Burning, shredding or tearing your writing is another cathartic option. It offers the physical release of any pain, feelings and emotions that have been scrawled across the page. It offers finality and resolution to pain or trauma that you have worked through and no longer wish to carry. That is the beautiful thing about writing--you own it! Let your story flow.

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