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The Science behind Writing Things Down


Antiquities Friend
During my long process of recovery I found journaling an indispensable aid and I know I could not have recovered without doing it. I totally recommend journaling as a tool to recover one's mental health.

This is taken from a recent newspaper article, and which I think's extremely useful:

It's not necessarily a love of paper that attracts us to those first untouched pages of a writing book - it's science! Humans are designed to write things down.

From a scientific perspective, writing:
  1. Accelerates information processing
  2. Increases memory and learning
  3. Improves critical thinking
  4. Has a unique relationship with the brain that creates patterns
From a wellbeing perspective, writing"
  1. Provides clarity and purpose
  2. Simplifies and transforms ideas into workable actions
  3. Creates calm
Brain scans show that the handwritten formation of letters and symbols activates brain regions that are responsible for thinking, learning, memory and information management, which are not activated by the tapping of keys.

Research illustrates that this is further enhanced when we link our letters instead of printing each one.


Antiquities Friend
Lifestyle tips:
While science demonstrates unequivocally the unique benefits that writing has on our memory and learning, more important to today's busy person will be how writing increases productivity and wellbeing.

1. Maintain a daily to-do list
Preferably write it the evening before, so you can go to bed in the knowledge that your day is organised.
2. Map your week in advance
Include work hours, exercise time, household activities time such as cleaning, shopping, tidying, a date night, time for a wine with friends, weekend brunch with family. If you need to bring work home, schedule it for a certain time in the evening, rather than having it hang over you that you need to get it done.
3. Choose your evening meals for the week on the weekend
Write them down and ensure you have all the ingredients you require. This saves time and needless energy deciding what you will have each evening when you get home.
4. Problem solve on paper
One key reason we become overwhelmed and stressed is because we attempt to solve our problems in our head. You will bring logic and critical thinking to a situation that you write down.
5. Write down your goals for the year, in bullet point form each day.
Notice how committed to the goal you become by putting them on paper. Humans have an inherent "future orientation" so you will be energised doing this.
6. Each evening, write down what you're grateful for.
Thinking it is not enough. Writing engages your attention, it forges new brain circuits that form patterns - you will become happier and more positive.


Banned Member
I totally agree with you on this urPrecious - even if no one is likely to read what you write it is still good therapy to write down your feelings

Thanks for posting this



Antiquities Friend
I know during the last 14 months as I have been going through this current depressive episode I have been really prolific in my writing. I tend toward writing poetry when depressed and have filled most of an 80 page notebook with my scribblings over the last several months. Actually, come to think of it, I got the notebook in August when school supplies were on sale. I keep it and a pen in our minivan (the vehicle I drive most often) and usually write a 1-2 page poem in it several days each week. Often I use the time when I'm sitting in the carpool line at my big kids' school to write. I've found it to be a good way to express exactly what I'm feeling. In fact, I often take it with me to my weekly therapy sessions and have shared many of my poems with my therapist. It helps me convey to him the intensity of my feelings or a more specific and/or concrete idea of my feelings. Sometimes feelings can be hard to put into words when speaking or hard to recall later when we are trying to explain to a therapist or psychiatrist what has been going on inside our heads. At least I find that is true for me. When I struggle to verbally express myself, I am glad I have my little notebook of poetry. I also use the Evernote app on my android phone for the same purpose. It's perfect for those moments when I don't have my notebook close by or it's just not feasible to put pen to paper. I much prefer writing by hand though. In addition to poetry, I quite often do a daily assessment of myself (although I got out of the habit of that a couple of months ago) that involves rating my anxiety, depression, and irritability on a scale of 0-10 (0 being none at all and 10 the worst ever) and a brief synopsis of my day and/or feelings. I could probably do with getting back to that. It's something I learned to do when I was in an intensive outpatient program about four years ago. The rating scale really helps me keep a bead on where I'm at in a more objective way. It's also helpful for my therapist. For example, my depression hasn't been below a 6 on a consistent basis since about August. It occasionally goes a little lower but one of my therapy goals is to try to get that number to a 5 or lower on a consistent basis. Still working on that.

I totally agree about connecting your letters being a helpful thing. I am and have always been a big fan of cursive. Given that my eldest is now reading nearly everything that isn't nailed down but hasn't yet learned cursive (or to read cursive), using that instead of printing things makes it easier for me to keep my thoughts to myself if she happens to pick up my notebook. I know that won't last forever though, so I'll have to hide it from her at some point.

Anyhow, I love writing. I find it very helpful. :)



Antiquitie's Friend
SF Supporter
Interesting that the OP points out that using a pen or pencil activates brain regions which are not activated by using a keyboard. That further adds to the recent scientific findings that a kid using a computer won't activate brain regions which are developed by handling actual three-dimensional toys such as Lego toys, Etc. Evidently, the human brain is geared for 3-dimensional objects rather than the 2-dimensional world of a flat screen. Sadly and regrettably, most kids will have their brains stunted by habitual use of computers during their formative years.

Even before the OP had introduced this thread, I had already been using pen or pencil to record my thoughts. I also clip those papers to the refrigerator for habitual reminders, so every time I open the refrigerator, I see those reminders.

There was also a creativity consultant who wrote a book saying that your creative-solutions to your problems arise during the most Unexpected times. So he had suggested putting a waterproof pad at your shower with a grease-pencil so you can jot down because lots of solutions occur when a person is taking a bath.


Well-Known Member
I agree with writing things down. I have always done this and I always will. Interesting a screen isn't the same but not surprising. Thanks for posting!

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