Do you have an important choice to make and need clarity? Or perhaps you’ve noticed you’re repeating the same behaviors and want to change? Therapeutic writing is the tool to help you release pent-up stress, analyze past behaviors, express yourself, and even boost your happiness. And the best part; You don’t need to be a writer or an author to start. You can start today with the therapeutic writing exercises we’ll share to help you reap the many benefits. Are you ready to get in touch with your creative side?
What Are ‘Therapeutic Writing Exercises’?
When you hear “therapeutic writing”, you may think of journaling for mental health. And while the two art forms share some similarities, they are very different. For example, the purpose of therapeutic writing is to reflect upon painful memories, events, and feelings and heal. It involves more meta-analytical processes than simply recording daily events. In fact, when you get started, you will follow a list of specific exercises to guide your creative expression, healing, and growth, either alone in the comfort of your home or under the guidance of a mental health professional. Overrall, therapeutic writing is your personal time machine to revisit, reflect, and retreat.
5 Tips to Get Started with Writing Exercises
If you’re not used to writing, like any habit, it may be challenging to start. But once you discipline yourself and follow these tips, therapeutic writing might become your new go-to coping mechanism.
- Select a time. There is no pressure for you to write every single day. But try to create a realistic goal to stick to, like 20 minutes three or four days a week.
- Choose your preferred style. There are many methods to choose from, like typing, writing a poem, or going for the traditional approach and writing your thoughts in your favorite notebook.
- Set the tone. Decide where and what time you will write every day. For example, in the morning while in bed or the evening in your reading nook.
- Define your motivation. Why do you want to start writing? Perhaps you’ve been struggling and want another form of healing, or crave an outlet for self-expression.
- Let go. Don’t worry about grammatical mistakes, the content, or how your handwriting looks. The most important part is to propel your personal growth without judgment.
6 Therapeutic Writing Exercises for Adults
1. Write for the sake of writing
Free writing is writing whatever pops into your head. It’s about allowing your pen to guide the entire process and letting go of anything and everything within you without judging or criticizing yourself. For example, “Yesterday was a horrible day. Anything that could go wrong did. And now, I can’t get out of bed.” While free writing, you may notice some deeply painful or even scary thoughts come to the surface. If they do, let them release and try not to hold back. Accepting these feelings, no matter how challenging they might be, allows you to receive perspective, jumpstart your healing, and boost your self-esteem.
2. Write a letter to your inner child
Everyone has an inner child. You might see yours as a culmination of your childhood experiences or as the epitome of youth and playfulness. Yet speaking to your inner child can help you heal subconsciously and improve how you see yourself. But this process isn’t easy, so try to be kind and forgiving as you write. To start, close your eyes and imagine the child you once were. You could even look at a photo to recall a specific age. Next, write a letter to them about the memories and resulting emotions that are arising. Allowing everything to pour out without censoring yourself will help you slowly reduce your inner child’s pain, fears, and insecurities.
3. Gain perspective
When we’re attached to a situation, it’s challenging to see it through a different lens. But by revisiting a memory, we can safely distance ourselves and relive it to learn more about ourselves and our healing. For example, choose a situation that you keep replaying, yet one that is not too traumatic or painful (It’s best to speak about these memories with a mental health professional). Now, write about it from a third-party perspective. You could even write it through the perspective of someone you admire or a friend to view the memory from a different angle. Revisiting a challenging memory and writing about it from a different perspective is one of the best therapeutic writing exercises to de-cloud your mind and receive clarity.
4. Forgive someone
Are you holding onto anger about someone who wronged you in the past? Instead of allowing this painful memory to fester, write a letter to them and say everything you want without sending it. The objective is to gain clarity about your feelings, thoughts, and opinions about the situation and the person. If you’re struggling to begin, start by telling them why you’re upset. Then analyze the situation, explain your perspective, and write about something you wish you could have said or done differently.
5. Explore your emotional states
Write about a experience when you felt a specific emotion and why. For example, how did it feel in your body? Did your heart race, your stomach ache, or your palms sweat? And what was happening at the time? Did you argue with a loved one or receive terrible news? When you analyze an experience, the resulting emotion, and how it felt in your body, you’re able to understand your mind-body connection on a deeper level. It allows you to track your triggers to increase your self-awareness and emotional regulation.
6. Challenge your thinking
How do you see yourself and your experiences? Do you believe the universe is out to get you and that it’s impossible to create the future you want? If so, you may benefit from challenging your thinking through neuro-linguistic programming. This method helps us discover thoughts, patterns, and assumptions preventing positive change and happiness. To practice, choose a generalization that you often say, “I am always so unlucky” or “I never get what I want”, and reframe it. Write about this statement and explore why you feel this way. After, you may discover that while sometimes you don’t accomplish your goals, you have a lot to be thankful for.
Writing isn’t just for writers. It’s for everyone. Therefore, allow yourself to connect to this wonderful tool and reap the benefits. And by following these therapeutic writing exercises, you will find that writing helps you track your thoughts and heal from painful memories and experiences.
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