Improve Your Health and Well-Being with Poetry

Poetry can be a great way to get our thoughts down on paper, unrestricted by more formal writing conventions. Writing poetry can help express our emotions and feelings in a way that can provide a sense of catharsis. Our negative emotions can grow inside us, and writing poetry can be a great outlet for getting our thoughts out in a healthy way.
Poetry uses metaphor and imagery in a way that can help us express things that we may feel unable to properly explain in basic conversation. When we write poetry, we allow ourselves to get into a flow of abstract expression undeterred by the limits of conversational language. According to Linda Wasmer Andrews in a 2011 article for Psychology Today entitled Will a Poem a Day Keep the Doctor Away, “Studies have shown that disclosing challenging experiences in personal writing can lead to improvements in a wide range of health outcomes, such as self-reported moods and symptoms, doctor visits, immune cell counts, liver enzyme levels, and antibody response to vaccines.” The real benefits of poetry, however, come from its ability to improve our mental health and overall sense of well-being. Writing out our feelings gives us a new perspective on them, which helps us regulate our feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear.
In a 2009 article for The Telegraph, AAAS: Writing poems helps brain cope with emotional turmoil, say scientists, science correspondent Richard Alleyne states, “Researchers claim the act of writing about personal experiences has a cathartic effect because it inhibits parts of the brain linked to emotional turmoil, and increases activity in the region to do with self-control.” Through the cathartic experience of personal self-expression, we are able to let go of the fears we have been holding inside of us. Alleyne further explains that writing poetry “tended to reduce activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain connected with emotion and fear, and increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex, the mind’s regulator. This suggests that the mere action of writing about an emotion was a way of calming down the brain and re-establishing mental balance” Emotions tend to run high in the early staged of recovery. Writing poetry and engaging in a limitless form of creative self-expression can be a positive and healthy way of letting go of negativity and improving our mental health.

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