5 Ways to Use Writing as Self-Care

Whether you’re going through a difficult time or simply desire more introspection, writing is a tool you can use to examine, reframe, and release your emotions. Even if you feel creatively zapped, your art can become a lifeline, taking whatever shape it needs to in the moment. Writing exercises won’t replace other forms of therapy, but they’re a valuable practice to accompany the inner work you’re doing and develop your writing skills in the process. Here are seven ways you can use your love of writing as self-care.

1. Journaling

This act of mindfulness is a classic for a reason. When you write by hand, it allows you to build connection with the words on the page, as well as slow down to process your thoughts. Expressing whatever is front-of-mind can relieve some of the emotional overload you feel to help you move forward with your day or wind down at night.

If you’re new to the journaling process, consider discussing any major revelations with a therapist or trusted friend, as working through complex emotions or trauma can bring up a lot of buried pain. It’s also an excellent way to cement a daily writing routine and you may find the momentum can be used toward your other writing projects.

2. Correspondence

When you’re feeling lonely or isolated, writing a letter or email to a friend can help you process what you’re experiencing while also making a connection. Fostering a relationship and focusing on another person can provide perspective and pull you out of your own head.

You can also use this format to write out your anger toward someone and then delete the email or toss the letter. The act of expressing yourself in this way can be what it takes to parse through complicated feelings on your end without involving the other person. This is also great practice for writing for an audience and learning how to alter your language based on the recipient.

3. Poetry or Creative Freewrite

It’s natural to feel creatively drained when you’re facing hardships, but if you feel compelled to create as an outlet, don’t feel you have to pick up a current project where you left off. Write something just for you. You can explore an experience, emotion or current theme through the lens of a favorite character or let a completely new character and story emerge.

You can also channel what you’re feeling into a freeform poem. Turning your frustration, sadness, heartbreak or grief into an experimental piece of art can help you see the strength you possess amidst the adversity. You may never share this poem with another person, but you might be pleasantly surprised by your work or discover you enjoy a new style of writing. This frees up your creative process, giving you permission to abandon conventional rules and structures.

4. Lists

List-making is a simple, yet often overlook tool that you can use on a daily basis. The type of list will depend on what you need at the moment and is not limited to the following:

  • To-Do List. How often are you haunted by an ever-growing list of to-dos, yet the list only resides in your head? Jotting down your tasks can provide some relief as you won’t be fretting over missing an important item. Seeing them coexist will also help you pinpoint which items to prioritize and how many can be moved to next week.

  • Gratitude List. It may sound corny, but if you need a mood boost, make a list of everything you can think of for which you’re thankful. Start with simple basics, like having a roof over your head or your morning cup of tea and allow the gratitude to snowball. Reminding yourself on a regular basis of the positives in your life can help combat negative thought patterns and shift your worries into perspective.

  • Pro/Con List. Anxiety often pairs up with indecision, so writing out the reasons for and against a decision can help you locate logic in the midst of emotion. The visual representation will allow you to see what you truly want and value, so you can make a decision based on your needs instead of the opinions of others.

5. Affirmations

Remind yourself who you are, what you value, and why you want to reach a goal by writing an inspiring message to yourself. Take the pep talk you may say in the mirror and put it down on paper to keep next to your computer. Pretend you’re speaking to a friend – how would you encourage them after a devastating loss? What might you say to cheer on your younger self on a tough day? This is a chance to inspire yourself, so write the message you wish you could hear from someone else to reignite your passion when you need it.  

Your writing is there for you in all circumstances and utilizing that gift won’t always take the form of a Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece. As you build up the habit of turning to your craft in times of stress and doubt, you may find yourself writing even more when the sun is shining.

  • Posted by Julia McAlpine
  • June 26, 2020 12:17 PM PDT
Whether you’re going through a difficult time or simply desire more introspection, writing is a tool you can use to examine, reframe, and release your emotions.




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