It’s no secret that stress, anxiety and your emotional state can directly affect your arthritic symptoms. By writing down your feelings using a technique known as Expressive Writing, you may be able to alleviate some of the pain and tiredness you’re experiencing.
People use writing, whether creatively or through a journal for many different issues. They may be going through a stressful period in their lives, or they might need an escape into another world to deal with reality. Some of the best authors in the world wrote during difficult times and produced some of the most iconic work we know and love today. So why do you have to be any different?
Expressive writing is a little different to the usual diary-keeping habits you might be familiar with. The key to expressive writing is being able to focus on your entire experience, holistically. Writing about your physical symptoms and the pain you’re going through might be helpful, but this is about getting to the core of your emotional state.
Firstly you’ll want to sit with your feelings; the spectrum of emotions that you are going through at this exact moment. This involves being in the present and labelling the feelings that come up. It’s vital not to judge anything at this point – the goal is to write honestly and openly. Write about something important to you at this time, regardless of whether you think it’s good, correct, bad or wrong. These terms do not exist in this space.
You can write on paper, type on a computer or even speak into a dictaphone – just ensure you have a space in your life where you are not being disturbed and can think clearly. This writing is for you, and you alone. Expressive writing is a private endeavour – you can choose to share this with your loved and trusted ones – but the focus is on complete transparency for now.
Expressive Writing isn’t as long as a journalling session and doesn’t have to last weeks. Take about 3-4 days and spend about 30 minutes in seclusion, expressing yourself.
Don’t be alarmed if what you write surprises you – expressive writing is used as a tool to disclose our deepest thoughts and feelings to ourselves. Getting them outside of your head is the first step to acknowledging them.
The research on expressive writing with Arthritis sufferers is very promising. In studies, people have reported lessening joint pain, stiffness and stress levels. Arthritis may only clinically affect your joints and mobility, but remember we are all connected.
The effect of chronic pain on our mental health is a growing field of interest. You might be experiencing shock, grief and loss from the life you had before. This is not only natural, but it is manageable through techniques to improve your mood and outlook.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help when you want it. Expressive writing can be the first step to understanding yourself, learning about your emotional state in the moment and taking back some control of your life.