While you may not have dreams of being a rich and famous author, research has shown that there are many emotional and physical health benefits to be gained through expressive writing. No matter what medium you choose--whether it be a public blog or a private journal--there's a lot to be gained by getting your thoughts and emotions onto the page.
Decrease your amount of visits to the doctor.
A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that people who write about personal details are healthier than those who don't. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, asked groups of students to write about an assigned topic for 15 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Later in the year, the pair asked the students about their health and found that those who had written about emotional topics made fewer trips to their doctors' offices.
Similar studies have found that those who practiced expressive writing reported lower blood pressure, fewer days in the hospital, improved immune system function, and overall improved mood. One study found that patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and asthma experienced fewer symptoms after writing about stressful life events.
Reduce stress and anxiety.
Writing about stressful situations may seem counter-intuitive--wouldn't it induce stress, not relieve it? Getting negative and stressful feelings out actually helps reduce their intensity. It can also help you figure out exactly why you're anxious, which could lead to a solution. Writing removes any mental blocks you may have, and enables you to use all of your brainpower to find answers. Another benefit of writing about stressful experiences is that you can go back and look at previous entries to see how much you've progressed.
Understand and improve relationships.
Writing about people you know can not only help you understand the nature of your relationship with them, but understand them better as well. If you're angry with someone, you may want to write them a letter. Even if you never intend on sending it, simply writing out your feelings and explaining why you feel the way you do can reduce your anger towards them.
You don't have to write a Shakespearean sonnet or a Dickensian novel to reap the benefits of expressive writing. Keep in mind that when writing as a therapeutic hobby, the end result isn't the important part--the process is. Try to write for at least 20 minutes a day to make the most of the experience. You don't even have to adhere to the rules of grammar if you don't want to. All that matters is that you get your thoughts down on paper. The best way to get started is to jump right in, and write now!