With it being Short Story Day on the 21st of December this year, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about how doing a little writing for yourself can really help when it comes to your mental health.
Writing can be an incredibly useful tool for many different things. Writing can help you organise your thoughts if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can help you rationalise any stress you may be feeling, and it can be an incredibly cathartic action in general. This article is going to go into a few ways in which you can use writing to help you if you feel that your mental health isn’t where you’d like it to be.
Personally, especially during assessment season, I find that to-do lists end up being my best friend. Often in academia you’ll find that you have tasks and assessments for multiple modules that require tackling at the same time, and this can be overwhelming. Additionally, many of you may have other responsibilities like jobs, managing a society, being a student rep, and even just making sure you get your groceries in regularly! This is where writing a to-do list can come in very handy. Writing down a finite list of everything you need to do can help you organise your time more effectively, and help you to mitigate stress because you’ll have it all out of your head; trust me, it’ll feel much less overwhelming this way, and you can cathartically burn the list afterward when you’ve completed it!
Very often we can have certain days where so many different things happen that we’re unable to quantify it, and this can be stressful. Writing about everything that has happened can be a really helpful way to rationalise things, and it can be something you can add into your daily routine. Writing about your stresses can help you detach from them and see them with a fresher perspective, and physically closing up a notebook with your stresses inside can be more therapeutic than you might think! In addition, for some extra catharsis, you can even try your hand at turning the stresses of your day into a small piece of fiction!
By turning your stresses into a short story you get to change things, you can change the outcome of the unpleasant situation and make yourself feel much better about it as a result. Also, by looking at stressful situations like they’re stories you can end up coming up with resolutions that you might not have found when everything was still stuck in your head. Also, if you and your friends are experiencing the same stresses then you can do this kind of activity together and bounce off each other, which will help to make all of you feel better!
At the end of the day, writing is something you can utilise in multiple forms, from writing lists to help you organise and manage your time, to converting your stresses into stories to help you deal with and overcome them. So use this year’s Short Story Day as a starting point to help your mental health, with a little bit of writing.