Years ago, after undergoing a traumatic experience, I was advised to write about it every night before going to sleep. I’d had insomnia for a while, and nothing seemed to help, so I tried it, and was surprised when I experienced immediate positive effects. My insomnia diminished immediately, and since that day, it hasn’t troubled me again. I don’t claim writing will have such an impact on everyone, but I recommend it to anyone struggling with anxiety or insomnia.
For those curious about studies that examine the benefits of writing, I suggest a book by Professor of Psychology, James W. Pennebaker, called Opening up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion. This book is a compilation of research into the topic of dealing with trauma through writing. It explores in detail the psychological and physiological effects of writing about difficult experiences; the studies it details show that writing can improve immune function and the grades of college students while reducing anxiety and depression. In addition, the physical and mental health of grade-school children, nursing home residents, arthritis sufferers, medical school students, maximum security prisoners, new mothers, and rape victims all exhibited measurable improvement in the studies discussed.
For me, I don’t believe there’s a difference between writing and exploring. As a writer, I’m fascinated by the healing potential of writing and I suspect it has something to do with its exploratory nature. I think there is something healing in thorough examination of troubling memories and thoughts. I think writing can help people clarify problems, and once a problem is specified, it allows people to work on uncovering a solution. I’ve only recently joined the Sink Hollow team as a poetry reader, but I’ve already encountered many poems that explore thoughts and memories in powerful ways.
I’m new to the Sink Hollow team, and have been impressed by the level of innovation and creativity I’ve seen both from the rest of the staff, and from the submissions we’ve received. Topics from bee-keeping to contemporary social issues are explored in our magazine. Here at Sink Hollow, we believe in the power of the written word, and invite you to explore with us.