Writing can boost your emotional and physical health

World Letter Writing Day on December 7 is a day when people from around the world will pick up a pen or pencil and write a letter. Expressing your thoughts and feelings through writing is an ancient and powerful form of communication that’s associated with a wide range of physical, mental and emotional health benefits.

Faster wound healing

Writing your thoughts and feelings down after a traumatic event can help wounds heal faster, according to a University of Auckland study. The New Zealand researchers reported that expressive writing helped older adults heal faster after a medically necessary biopsy. Writing about a distressing event, such as a biopsy, helped them reduce their anxiety and produce fewer stress hormones, which can interfere with wound healing, the researchers said.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found patients with asthma who wrote about stressful life experiences showed improved lung function, while patients with rheumatoid arthritis experienced a reduction in the severity of their symptoms.

Narrative writing heals the heart

Writing expressively by telling a story can improve heart health by lowering your heart rate and improving the heart’s response to stress, according to a 2017 study in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioural Medicine.

Writing about positive experiences can lift your mood too. People who wrote about intensely positive experiences became more upbeat than those who didn’t and reported fewer visits to medical centres, reported the Journal of Research in Personality. Writing down what you’re thankful for before bed results in longer, better sleep, according to an Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being study.

Foster social connections

Self-expressive writing, especially when shared with others, helps foster social connections and can reduce loneliness among older adults and their caregivers, say Harvard Medical School.

Research shows that participatory forms of art, such as creative writing, can improve the health and well-being of older adults, according to McMaster University. There are positive effects on memory, creativity, problem-solving, ability to carry out daily activities, and reaction time.

At Chartwell Renaissance in Langley, British Columbia, Evelyn Paterson, 89, writes to help deal with life’s challenges and to celebrate happy milestones in her life. She recently fulfilled a lifelong passion when she reached out to Wish of a Lifetime Canada to have her original children’s book illustrated and published for future generations to enjoy.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers enriching opportunities to participate in creative arts through storytelling, book clubs, dance and music activities that engage residents and contribute to good physical, emotional and cognitive health.