Looking for a way to express everything that is on your mind? Try Free Writing, an incredible and creative relief activity in mental health.
The mental world is one of the most interesting parts of human beings because of how complicated it is to study the human’s mind entirely. Until now, we have been able to study only some physiology of the human mind, and centuries of psychology researches have developed some basic theories about the mental world. Still, the mental world remains an unknown world even when it is inside of each one of us.
Along with that, some of us cannot discover what is inside our minds. And even if we get to know some of the deepest parts of our mental life, we are not brave enough to share it. So, it is practically impossible for us to share the part of our mental life we have access to. That is one of the chief causes of the suffering of human beings, and thus a cause for mental illness.
So in mental health, if there is something that is true, it is that we might find relief if we set free everything we have inside. The action of setting our mental world free as an activity to relieve mental issues has its theoretical sustenance. In previous articles, I shared how coloring is a relieving activity. Also, I shared workbooks as an activity to relieve too. So, now it is time to discuss freewriting as a relieving activity.
Psychological Aspects of Freewriting
Writing is an activity that combines mental and physiological efforts. That is the reason free writing is an amazing activity to relieve and express our thoughts. Writing involves a cognitive base, that is all the ideas we have to share. But writing also involves a constructive base which is setting up what we are writing to make sense and say what we want. And, along with that, writing involves a mechanical part that can be written by hand or typed.
One of the main characteristics of freewriting is that it is narrative writing, and it is based on the expression. This topic was researched by Tonnarelli, Consentino, Artioli, Borciani, Camurri, Colombo, D’Errico, Lelli, Lodini, and Artioli in 2017. According to their “Expressive writing. A tool to help health workers. Research project on the benefits of expressive writing” 2017 research:
Expressive writing is an intervention developed to improve the level of psychophysical well-being through the enhancement of emotional and cognitive processing of events. During the writing of the negative event, the subject modifies the emotional perception related to the event, through a re-elaboration of cognitive and emotional reactions and recovery of one’s identity. This allows an improvement in coping strategies and a reduction in emotional distress.Tonarelli, Consentino, Artioli, Borciani, Camurri, Colombo, D’Errico, Lelli, Lodini, and Artioli. (2017). Expressive writing. A tool to help health workers. Research project on the benefits of expressive writing.
The thing is that we are used to seeing writing just as a way of communication. Since ancient times, humans have been using freehanded forms to communicate information, but with the invention of language, writing became more natural and an everyday occurrence. That is why writing is an activity that goes beyond communication, because the main reason to communicate is expression. And that is key to understanding writing from a psychological approach.
So, writing itself expresses the mental world. The reason behind it is the many psychological processes involved in it. But also, writing has an important component because it is the person’s internal voice. Have you ever heard about plagiarism? Well, the base for that is that, even when we can have some similar points, anyone can replicate accurately the other person’s writing. Writing is personal and unique, and each one of us has our own way to express ourselves.
But why is writing so personal and unique? That is because it involves the main and basic processes that compose our mental world. As I mentioned before, there is a cognitive part, that is thoughts, all of our ideas, and our voice. But writing is also based on perception, which is the way we receive and analyze the stimuli that come from the inside and the outside world.
There is also a biological base that makes writing so unique because writing is a strong cognitive process that carries different cerebral activations. The reason for that is the fact that writing involves motor, linguistic, and cognitive skills. According to Potgieser, Hoorn, and de Jong, on their 2015 research “Cerebral Activations Related to Writing and Drawing With Each Hand“:
Writing is a sequential motor action based on sensorimotor integration in visuospatial and linguistic functional domains… Writing and drawing showed parietal-premotor and posterior inferior temporal activations in both hemispheres when compared to tapping… Writing contrasted to drawing revealed left-sided activations in the dorsal and ventral premotor cortex, Broca’s area, pre-Supplementary Motor Area and posterior middle and inferior temporal gyri, without parietal activation.Potgieser, Hoorn, and de Jong. (2015). Cerebral Activations Related to Writing and Drawing With Each Hand
Writing is also based on learning and memory, which is all we have stored in our minds, and the process of how we got that stored information. Writing is also based on emotions, which are all our internal reactions to stimulus. Yes, all those processes are internal; that means personal.
Now, when we talk about freewriting, we are talking about creative or expressive writing. That means the writing process is defined and managed by the writer. Freewriting is a way to express, without any conditions that can intervene in our expression process. And that is why free writing is the purest way to set free our mental world without any restriction.
Freewriting: A Relieving Activity
Here are many reasons why free writing is a relieving activity.
- When we write freely, we are literally setting free all that is in our head, without restrictions that can determine or limit the process. In that way, there is a relief in ourselves from pain and suffering.
- Freewriting is expressing our deepest thoughts and beliefs, and that is the best way to understand what we really want and who we really are. What we express through freewriting are those things we might never say to anyone else, but if we are mindful and focus while we are writing, we can admit things to ourselves and may realize many things.
- Not expressing what and how we feel is one of the main causes of mental health issues. Somehow, all those painful and destructive thoughts and feelings we have stay there damaging us. So, freewriting is an amazing tool to express all those feelings and thoughts that we don’t want to share with others, and in that way, set ourselves free from the pain they can cause.
Freewriting can be a great, relieving activity if you know how to use it. However, I definitely recommend finding a counselor or psychologist as well because there might be some things you don’t know how to process on your own. But writing by yourself, for example, in a personal journal, can be a great way to start. You can even review some of your writing pieces with personal opinions.
The thing to remember is that, if you feel like some things you are discovering hit you hard, always reach for professional help.