Creative writing can help preserve our mental health in the age of Coronavirus
From creative writing and journaling to haikus – our Therapeutic and Reflective Writing tutor Anne Taylor explains how writing can help preserve our mental wellbeing during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.
Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing
- Explore therapeutic and reflective writing for your own well-being and personal development
- Learn how to use writing with therapeutic or counselling clients
- Discover how fiction, life-writing and memoir can benefit well-being
Even before this Coronavirus pandemic, word about the therapeutic value of writing was spreading around the globe as a growing number of people became aware of its value as a transformative and life enhancing pursuit.
Writing for wellbeing can also help us to cope with uncertainty – a state that, for a large proportion of the world’s population, will prevail for the foreseeable future.
The research of James Pennebaker and others has shown that expressive writing can have multiple benefits for mental and also physical health. Expressing our feelings on the page can help us manage them, crafting a poem can provide a container for our fears; writing can be a pleasure and a distraction, and in these days of isolation, a way of connecting.
The Professional Writing Academy’s online Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing course, which I co-direct with writer and poetry therapist Victoria Field, has seen over 200 participants from nearly 30 countries around the globe pass through its portal.
Students come together in small groups of no more than 12 in our forums to experience the power of reading and writing poems, of expressive writing and journal writing, of exploring memories through life-writing and of sharing and bearing witness in groups.
We have found that far from being a drawback, connecting in a virtual space has more often than not brought deeper personal connections between participants, affording more time for reflection than a face-to-face group.
Many of our alumni go on to share their passion for words for wellbeing with others, and some have joined a growing global tribe of practitioners who are using writing for wellbeing with groups and individuals.
Connecting in a virtual space has more often than not brought deeper personal connections between participants, affording more time for reflection than a face-to-face group.
In the face of another lockdown over the past couple of weeks, a number of these have taken to running groups online and are sharing prompts and ideas for writing using social media and online conferencing platforms like Zoom.
Amanda White, a writer and group facilitator in Cornwall, set up a page on Facebook where people can share a daily Haiku. The response to this project has been overwhelming as people find distraction and a sense of play and satisfaction in crafting three simple lines of poetry to share with an online community. The page already has almost five thousand members.
The next iterations of Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing and its sister course Running Writing Workshops will start soon, and in these turbulent times, Victoria and I feel that our work in spreading the word about the therapeutic value of creative writing is more important than ever. Come and join us!