Over the past year, you might have noticed a common theme running through our Balance special guests: many of them have recently written or published a book or biography.
The timing of these book releases make our subjects more topical and accessible but if you look a little deeper, you could also draw the conclusion that writing is somehow inextricably linked to balance.
So we went in search of a definitive answer. Is writing a key to the balance we desperately seek?
Balance By Deborah Hutton has, by default, become an anecdotal study of the benefits of writing – Mary Coustas, Ondine Sherman, Jennifer Skiff, Sarah Wilson and Kathy Lette would all agree that their lives would not be the same had they not put pen to paper. But what if you don’t have a life-changing or traumatic event to write about?
In the past 12 months we have come across more than a dozen members who have written for Balance and who are testimony to the virtues of journaling. Among them are Gigi G, Grace and, most recently, Suzanne Vidak, to name a few.
Suzanne’s story starts with a successful career, loving partner and, by all accounts, a “normal” life. But after 22 years in the corporate world, somehow she lost her balance and suddenly the great salary and high-flying job just weren’t enough any more.
“After I left the corporate world seven years ago I fell into a hole,” she says.
“I turned to my journal to work out who I was and where I was going in my life. All I knew was I wanted to make a difference.”
Suzanne says leaving an industry and a career that she had worked in for so long was a frightening experience and “gratitude journaling” was one of the things that saved her.
“When you are desperately trying to get through a day of semi-darkness and trying to figure out what life’s all about, to find five things you are grateful for is an amazing thing to do and really turned me around,” she says.
Three years later, with journaling now literally her new light in life, she started a business called Inner Moments.
“Inner Moments started because one day I went out shopping to find a journal and couldn’t find one that I wanted to write in,” she says. “So I decided to create my own.”
The result was “Window to my Soul”, a 176-page, high-quality, case-bound journal with subtle dotted lines, satin ribbon and inspirational quotes on alternate pages.
In the process of creating her new business Suzanne decided to do some research into the benefits of journaling and, after her own experience, was not entirely surprised by what she read. Here are some extracts from the studies and information she found:
“The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In summary, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”
“There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical wellbeing. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
By Psych Central writer MAUD PURCELL, LCSW, CEAP (click here to read more)
“Early research into the benefits of expressive writing (writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings) for people with cancer found that women with breast cancer who wrote about all of their feelings reported the fewest symptoms and had the fewest unscheduled visits to their doctors.”
By Cancer Net, with reference to the Journal of Clinical Oncology report 2002 (click here to read more)
“Expressive writing – writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events – often leads to improvements in physical and psychological health in non-clinical and clinical populations. Recent studies have shown that positive writing may also be beneficial.”
From the Expressive writing and positive writing for participants with mood disorders: An online randomised controlled trial, 24 May 2011. (Click here to read more)
With the evidence stacking up both clinically and anecdotally it appears that writing can certainly help us find our balance. So what are you waiting for? Start writing today and maybe tell us your story too – who knows, it could be one that will turn the page for someone else!