Creativity & Health: Can Writing Help your Chronic Pain?

This post originally appeared on http://www.survivestrivethrive.com

Is creativity as important to your health as a balanced diet & regular exercise?

Only a few short decades ago, most people would have scoffed at a link between creativity & health.

Today, it is widely accepted that the arts & more importantly, being creative can improve your health.

A 2010 scientific paper analysed more than 100 studies examining the impact of art & creativity on health & wellbeing.

Most of these studies agreed that the arts had a range of positive outcomes including:

Even viewing art can have a helpful impact but if you want the biggest benefits –

It is important to find your own creative outlet.

Creative outlets include any form of ‘making art’ such as drawing, painting, music but one of the most popular is creative writing.

 Creativity & Health: Can Creative Writing Help Your Pain?

So if creativity & health are linked – can creativity help your pain?

The simple answer is Yes!

Many independent studies have found that creativity, in particular – creative writing – can help with the symptoms of pain.

Creative writing has been found to have remarkable benefits including:

  • Improved control over pain
  • Improved depressive mood
  • Improved pain severity

Although we cannot fully explain why, creative writing has been found to help people with chronic pain across different cultures, age groups & conditions.

Great news for anyone with chronic pain & a story, anecdote or poem to share!

If you are a little shy about sharing your writing – don’t worry. You can still get all of the health benefits from private forms of writing such as journaling.

 5 Remarkable People using Creative Writing to Help Pain

The science behind creative writing is great for proving numbers but it doesn’t tell the real story.

For that, we have asked 5 inspirational chronic pain warriors to share their personal experiences of how creative writing helps them through the daily battle of life with chronic pain.

 Kate-Berger-Creativity-Health-500x500.pngKate Berger www.cingeducation.com

@cingeducation  @cingeducation

My name is Kate Berger and I run Cing Education – an online tutoring service, blog and support group for young Aussies with a chronic illness. I started it as part of the healing process for my own chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia.

With one in two people being diagnosed with a chronic illness, stories like mine are more important than ever. I was diagnosed at school, and it took a long time for me to adjust to a life that would be lived in perpetual pain. It’s taken seven years, but I feel that the process of contributing to our blog and social media has really helped do that last bit of emotional healing for me. After years of struggling with what I can retrospectively see as depression, the value of sharing my experience with others was unforeseen. I am now functioning, thriving and surviving post-diagnosis, and would love to share how being creative was a key building block for the beautiful life I now live.

Emily-Williams-Creativity-Health-500x500.pngEmily Williams  emilywilliamsauthor.blogspot.com

Writing is my escape from chronic pain. This creative output temporarily whisks me off into another world; a world where I am someone else. Without this escape, I’d be lost. I have recently been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It began in 2007 when I was hit by a car. I developed hip problems and swelling in my wrists. After several operations on my wrists and then elbows, I was finally diagnosed with RA. I have daily chronic pain in all joints.

When I am writing, I am different. I am no longer shackled by the pain and limitations of my body. Although I dictate my novel, I’m back in my comfort zone. My book blog is a huge help. I started my blog after maternity leave and struggling to return to work due to a huge flare-up of symptoms. Being in the online world, communicating with adults was a great benefit through this difficult time. I feel useful.

I published my debut novel, Letters to Eloise last year, and have just released my new charity novel, Rafferty Lincoln Loves. The charity has been immensely supportive and ambassador, Frankie Dettori has written the novel’s foreword. Other amazingly supportive bloggers have helped by spreading the word about my writing on social media.

My chronic pain isn’t going away but the support of others in a place I feel valued has made such a difference.

Teena-Hantke-Creativity-Health-500x500.png

 Teena Hantke www.whoamumma.com.au

@whoamum  @whoa_mumma   @whoamumma

I’ve lived with chronic pain for over 20 years and it’s controlled much of my adult life, I’ve tried everything I could to cope and manage it in a positive way. Nothing I tried really helped and was only ever a short-term band-aid until I started writing. The ability to put pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard created an outlet where I could be honest and not have to worry about putting a brave face on for others.

The ability to put my thoughts into something tangible, to craft each sentence in a raw and honest way provided an outlet for my feelings, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was cathartic for me to get them out and what was more, I connected with others who felt the same or were struggling, feeling alone. I realised writing was my therapy and that what I felt resonated with others who then no longer felt so alone themselves. My stress and anxiety lessened and one of the most amazing things happened, I became more positive about living with my conditions because I was constantly looking at how to improve my life and help others do the same.

Jodie-Guerrero-Creativity-Health-500x500.png Jodie Guerrero  

www.jodiesjourney.com; www.consumerconsultation.com

@Jodiesjourneycom  @jodiesjourney @jodiesjourney

Writing, blogging, vlogging and becoming an author has brought a sense of relief in my life, both mentally & spiritually. Physically: my very complex situation is managed by almost 50 medications per day. I feel that now my story has been converted into a manuscript, my journey will be heard and told, as far and wide as I can spread it. The next step is finding the right publisher – the right path is coming about, via the ‘movers & shakers’ I have connected with over the years. If you really want it to, your story WILL be heard. Your pain WILL make sense and your path WILL be clearer than ever.

As a triple cancer survivor and a six-time medical trauma survivor, I get almost everyone’s journey through medical difficulties. There isn’t much I haven’t heard of and I feel over the last decade plus, I have talked to almost every patient that God has brought across my life. I grasp every opportunity available to tell my story and connect patients with my journey – it’s important to tell your own story too. So, don’t keep it quiet – express it, voice it out and don’t let anyone put you down. Only you can truly know what you want to do with your voice and your journey.

It’s not necessarily about making money via your story, but about touching as many lives as possible – lives that feel blank and worthless. My survival experiences can lift them up, relieve their pain & fears – and yes, so can yours. Speaking up and telling of your journey through medical challenges and various pains, can help one to cope with the massive damage a survivor may feel both physically, mentally and spiritually. Work it out, dream it out and document the pain of your soul – it will make a world of difference.

Kat-Black-Creativity-Health-500x500.pngKat Black  https://medium.com/forunate-disasters-depressing-epiphanies

I’ve suffered with Fibromyalgia for 10 years. Over the last few years the pain has gotten so bad that I’ve had to start working remotely.

I find most days, writing is a good creative outlet that lets me channel the pain and sometimes helps to push it further back in my mind. Other days I find it nearly impossible to write because the Fibro Fog eats my words.

I blog about freelancing and I work full time. This means I can get mentally exhausted really quickly. Writing my blog helps me to feel like I’m helping other people out. Because I have a handful of dedicated fans, they keep me going. It’s not just about me publishing a post anymore, it’s about not letting them down. Each published post becomes an achievement that will never go away. Even on my worst pain days I can go to my blog, see all my posts, and feel proud of what I’ve achieved.

Conclusion

It is now widely accepted that creativity & health have a very strong link.

Finding a creative outlet, whether that be drawing, painting, music or writing has proven benefits for people living with chronic pain.

The science has found benefits of creative writing including increased control over pain & reduced pain severity.

The inspirational chronic pain warriors who write to help their chronic pain all agree there are other benefits too.

Creative writing offers a sense of purpose, a chance to help others & an opportunity to join a community of like-minded people with shared experience.

So what are you waiting for?

Pick up a pen or put your fingers on the keyboard & write it down!

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