Recovery Messages & News

Writing for Healing

By Ms. Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist

Journalling is a common recommendation that many healthcare providers, including myself, make to individuals who are struggling with mental health issues, Addiction, chronic pain or existential questions such as who am I?

It is such a useful tool because it allows us to process feelings, reflect on situations (past or present) that are impacting us, track growth and progress, and provide a record of gratitude. Some people choose to keep a gratitude journal separate from their venting, feelings journal so that all the uplifting sources of happiness and gratitude are in one spot, which can be a great tool to turn to when you are feeling comfortable, as well as unsettled.

Here are some additional tips regarding journalling:

  • Write about where you are in your life today and any feelings or reflections that come up
  • Try writing for 5-10 minutes anything that comes to your mind. Do not censor, correct grammar, or aim for pretty handwriting, just write quickly whatever enters your thinking
  • Try writing with your non-dominant hand for a few minutes as a way to connect with your ‘inner child.’ Then switch to your dominant hand to journal what came up for you and your reflections
  • List any feelings you are carrying in the moment, with no need to connect them to thoughts or situations
  • Keep a separate section in your journal for gratitude if you do not have a separate journal for this

Some people find it challenging to connect with journalling and may, instead, channel their thoughts and feelings through poetry or song-writing. Both of these are also ways to express your self and process challenging and happy situations that come up, past or present.

For those of you who are interested in exploring the poetic side of you but do not know where to start, The Institute for Poetic Medicine has a list of 3 exercises you can take yourself through to get the poetic juices flowing:

Poetic Medicine Tool Bag

Song writing is another way many people process their life and feelings. Whether or not you are musically inclined and intend to hear your songs played or recorded, writing lyrics can be a form of poetry that can feel less restrictive and more free flowing. Try the activity of listening to some of your favourite songs to see what words and phrases you connect with, then try building these into your own song or poem.

Writing is something that many people benefit from in their healing process and can become a regular part of your daily routine for health and wellness. If you are interested, take the leap and try one of the activities above today!