Reading and Writing As a Way to Relieve Stress – The Benefits of the Written Word Upon the Worried Mind

(c) Girl reading by Mary-Jane Ansell (c) Girl reading by Mary-Jane Ansell

While my medical adventures drag on, slowed down by paperwork and the (un)availability of doctors, I am trying to take things easy, to eat healthy food, to go on enjoyable walks every day, to rest, and, of course, to read and write. You know already that writing about your life and problems can be cathartic and that reading has numerous benefits for your brain. When you combine the two, reading with writing, the result is a highly effective home-brewed potion against anxiety, worry, and even depression, a much better way to spend your time than watching TV or YouTube, stalking people on Facebook, or letting yourself be alarmed by Google’s worrisome results.

Reading and writing do take some of your time, but they don’t cost money, and you can do them almost anywhere, at home (without even leaving your bed), on the subway, in your breaks at work, and just about anywhere else. Whatever pressures you’re facing, whatever worries you have, whether it’s money issues, academic concerns, or romantic complications, reading and writing can help, not by solving your problems, though sometimes they can help you come up with a solution, but by relieving stress and clearing your mind. Let’s count the benefits of reading and writing upon our worried minds.

Reading

  • Slows down the heart rate and eases tension in your muscles

  • Helps you better understand your thoughts and feelings

  • Stimulates your mind, exercising your brain

  • Forces you to be still, making you less fidgety and more tranquil

  • Focuses your attention

  • Feeds your imagination, helping you come up with more creative solutions to your problems

  • Expands your knowledge, which can help you deal better with difficult situations

  • Improves your memory

  • Betters your analytical thinking skills

  • Entertains you in a deeper and more meaningful way than most movies, TV, shows, and media content, helping to take your mind off your worries

  • By showing you the effects that people’s actions can have, even when these people are fictional, mere characters in a story, helps you take better decisions yourself

Writing

  • Moves the stress in your head on to the paper

  • Crystallizes your thoughts – written thoughts are clearer than the jumbled thoughts in your head

  • Keeps you at a distance from the Internet and social media, which oftne only increase our stress

  • Helps you unburden your heart – whoever you are, whatever problems you’re facing, the sheet of (digital) paper will always listen to you, accepting all that you’re saying without interrupting you, without judging you, without condemning you, in a way that no person can; by simply writing ‘I am stressed’ on paper you become a little less stressed.

  • Enables you to imagine how things could have turned out if… – this may sound like taking day-dreaming too seriously, but it’s really a form of play, and all of us, even the adults and seniors, need to play from time to time to ease our minds; and few things relieve stress better than play

For Even Better Results…

  • Read books, paperbacks or hardbacks, or at least e-books, not tweets, Facebook updates, or even blog posts, because the distractions of social media and of the Web is always there.

  • Handwrite in a notebook or on a piece of paper, instead of typing on a computer. For me at least, less screen time means less and distraction. Not to mention that you rest your eyes.

  • Write in the morning, after waking up, before you check your smartphone or tablet, watch the news on TV, turn on the radio, drive to work, or even talk to other people. Even half an hour of writing in the morning and you’ll be more focused, calmer, and better prepared, mentally at least, to tackle the challenges of the day.

  • Read at night before going to sleep. You will fall asleep more easily and sleep better than if you watch TV or hang on social media sites before the final yawn.

  • Read and write with your smartphone out of sight, preferably muted or turned off. All those constant notifications can break the flow of the reading or writing experience and distract you.

If you don’t have the time to read and write, make some. You’re probably distracted by the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, your smartphone, your tablet, your TV, your gaming console, movies, and the countless other technological distractions of our century. Read and write before you do anything else, before you check your email, your Facebook account, your credit card balance. Read and write before the distractions of modern life discombobulate you.

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How often do you read and write? Don’t you feel that it helps you relieve stress?

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27 thoughts on “Reading and Writing As a Way to Relieve Stress – The Benefits of the Written Word Upon the Worried Mind

  1. I totally agree it most definitely eases the stress when focused on either writing or reading, then wouldn’t you agree that you get a light euphoric feeling once you have said what you need to? Or when you read a book and it just totally makes sense, that’s sure healing for me and time well spent! 🙂 Great post. Love on your medical adventure dear x

  2. I write every time I study for university. Also, when I read books and find something interesting in it or very informative – just to not forget anything. :))

  3. I agree with everything you have outlined here. I have found old-fashion books with pages help me to sleep well at night. I have to shut off the electronic devices. When I was using an E-reader or iPad to read books, I wasn’t sleeping very soundly. So I quit and started going back to the local library and checking out real books. You are can learn a great deal by reading books. I especially love to read history or historical fiction.

    Although I love to write using my computer, handwriting in my Moleskine journal is relaxing. There is something about writing out your thoughts the old-fashion way. I heard that it is therapeutic to keep a journal along side your bed and write down your dreams with detail as soon as you wake up. I have never done this but have been tempted to start. When you read your dream journals later in the day you get better insight into what is happening in your mind. The clues are in the details.

    Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. I have heard the same positive thing about keeping a journal. It may be a good idea to start one. It takes a while getting used to it, but then you feel the need to go back to it, and the writing comes naturally.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been slowly working on writing things out in the mornings. Just for 25 minutes. The days I do, everything feels better. The days I don’t, I wish I had and if I can, I stop to do it there and then. Even if it’s nothing more than a break from the screen it’s been incredibly therapeutic.

    I read every night before bed. My girlfriend lies next to me on her smart phone. She has a good moan in the morning about how I feel asleep hours before her. Strange, she never listens to me when I tell her to put her phone down.

    Thanks for sharing!

      1. Totally true!!!! Many times instead of screaming ugly words you can write them!!!!! Or read a book about something funny and get relaxed! Finally someone has realized that there are many ways to get read of stress!!!!!

  5. I am 18 and I am an avid reader. I’ve read most on the books on my smartphone ( and I actually hate it but books are not very cheap in my country.) I used to write often, almost daily. Life turns on dime and I stopped writting for reasons unfathomable. Writing made me sick. I think this is just the motivation I needed. Another thing which I hate is that I used to write online on a secret blog. I wish I could also write in a diary or something but I guess it’s not a very clever idea when you have 2 brothers and a small house. Besides I loathe my hand writing. But I want myself to be away from technology. This is Catch 22!

  6. Hi Vincent! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this post to be featured as a guest post on A Writer’s Path on Feb 22nd. As usual, I included credit to you/bio/link to your blog.

    I’d be interested to feature more of your articles. Do you mind if I feature more of them as an ongoing thing. Credit/bio/link will always be included and I’ll let you know each time one is scheduled.

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