Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Journaling for Wellness

I spent the morning writing up a handout for the next class I'm teaching, "Journaling for Perfect Weight and Wellness." So go ahead, call me a geek, but I love this process of surrounding myself with books, paging through them to find just the right reference, then distilling and organizing information on an 8 ½ x 11 page. Ah, the handout! Preparing one usually starts out as review and almost always ends up with discovery.

This time, the process has renewed my enthusiasm for writing as a healing tool. In my class, I plan to cover wellness journaling, affirmative journaling, and expressive writing, all of which I've done and all of which can support physical wellness in different ways. But I am most excited by what I've reviewed and discovered this morning about expressive writing -- a method of therapeutic writing which links description of a traumatic or emotionally upsetting event with uncensored expression of the deep emotions felt during and after its occurrence.

This kind of expressive writing, studies show, can enhance immune function, reduce blood pressure, decrease arthitic pain, reduce stress, and generally improve mood and happiness over the long term. It has even raised grades among college students (probably by improving working memory) and increased employment prospects among job seekers (probably by alleviating depression and hostility and making them more appealing to employers). And it cuts down doctor visits. With research results like that, I'm surprised health insurance companies don't require it as a condition of coverage.

It certainly has the potential to reduce personal health care costs as it boosts wellness for those of us willing to try it. In the class tomorrow night, I'll be passing out basic expressive writing instructions and leading exercises in this and other forms of journaling.

If you want to join us, class starts at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, and runs for one hour. It's at the Jutila Center (aka the old hospital), 200 Michigan Street in Hancock, Michigan, in Room 324. Cost is $10 at the door. Hope to see you!