As 2015 is fast approaching I think it is fair to assume some of us will be thinking about New Year Resolutions. No doubt, some of the old chestnuts, I will get fit, I will eat less and in our case, I will write more, still apply.
This caused me to think about the health of writers. How this sedentary career / hobby which holds us captive in front of a computer screen for hours; and therefore, what effect does this have on the body?
Is our eyesight affected? What about those poor shoulders? Are they aching after hours spent hunched over?
Do we drink too much coffee, tea or wine when writing late into the night? With that coffee, tea or wine, do we reward ourselves with a piece of cake or cheese and biscuits ...after all the thousand words just laboured over were especially brilliant – weren’t they?
The thirty minute walk you promised yourself after eliminating the unnecessary adjectives was forgotten as you madly red-penned the adverbs too. The little voice that whispers, ‘A walk would do you good.’ How often is that ignored?
I went looking for information and found in addition to the downsides, there is plenty to be gained from writing. Said to reduce stress and blood pressure, writing improves the mood and gives a greater sense of psychological well- being. Membership of writing groups both online and actual offers a sense of belonging and the support of like-minded people can be viewed as an additional benefit.
Whilst researching items for this blog that I stumbled upon an article written by Professor James Pennebaker from the University of Texas, Austin. Pennebaker believes in the power of writing to heal and his research shows that writers who write regularly go to the doctor less, have a stronger immune system and when their stress levels fall, their health improves.
(If you have a moment, I recommend a most interesting clip on YouTube by Professor James Pennebaker called ‘The Secret Life of Pronouns.’ It is quite fascinating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGsQwAu3PzU
In 2013, a New Zealand study was conducted on the power of ‘Expressive Writing’ to help heal wounds, the results were astounding.
“Researchers in New Zealand investigated whether expressive writing could help older adults heal faster after a medically necessary biopsy. In the study, 49 healthy adults aged 64 to 97 years wrote about either upsetting events or daily activities for 20 minutes, three days in a row. After a time lag of two weeks, to make sure any initial negative feelings stirred up by recalling upsetting events had passed, all the subjects had a biopsy on the arm, and photographs over the next 21 days tracked its healing. On the 11th day, 76 percent of the group that did expressive writing had fully healed as compared with 42 percent of the control group.”
This passage was taken from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/writing-can-help-injuries-heal-faster/
In conclusion, here’s to a very happy 2015 and now we know how healthy writing makes us ...there is no excuse, back to work my friends!