This is a guest post by Frank McKinley.
What do you think about when you hear the word healthy?
Maybe you picture someone buff in designer gym clothes pumping iron at the gym.
Maybe it’s someone who takes power naps every 3 hours and is always chipper, creative, and living the dream life.
Or maybe it’s someone who changed everything about the way they eat, dropping all the fat and carbohydrates from their diet and eating nothing but the safest, most natural foods on earth.
Those are the most popular top of mind things, right?
I’m not going to say you shouldn’t do those things if you want. But there’s one thing a lot of people overlook and maybe even consider unimportant. Yet this one thing can be as important as breathing to a life well-lived.
What is it?
Yeah, I know you saw that in the title and maybe asked yourself. “Writing? Are you serious? How can that make me healthy? I mean you can’t eat words. You can’t lift your books at the gym. And you can’t breathe in words and expect to live.”
After you read this, you’ll be more inclined to see writing is as essential to the good life as regular walks, balanced meals, and getting plenty of sleep.
First, let’s put away some lies, shall we?
It’s not important to be creative.
Writing is a great hobby, some say. But don’t expect to make a living at it.
Tell that to Stephen King, John Grisham, or James Patterson.
Making money with your writing is nice, of course. It’s not essential though for you to enjoy its health benefits.
Hobbies are not a waste of time. They’re fun. They break up the monotony. And if your career is stale, they give you a place to shine in an otherwise mundane and maybe even dreary world.
Isn’t that healthy?
Writing is hard work.
So is lifting weights, running, and hiking.
But we do all those things anyway.
Humans need a challenge. We’re not wired to just drift through life doing one boring thing after another. Stretching isn’t just good for your muscle tissues; it’s good for your brain, your heart, and your soul.
So get out your pen and do a little hard work. Do it enough and you’ll find it’s not as hard as you thought!
Like your mom and dad probably told you, hard work builds character. Writing is hard work, so it’s good for you.
You don’t need to write to be healthy.
You don’t have to drink a gallon of water a day either.
But I’ll bet you probably drink a few glasses, right?
You can live for a long time without exercise, eating right, or sleeping enough, too.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
When you want to be healthy, don’t stop with your body. Take care of your mind, too.
Now let’s get down to business. You’re about to learn 7 fantastic reasons why you should write every single day.
Writing helps you process your feelings.
When I was a teenager, I struggled with some pretty intense emotions.
It all started with a terrible first day of middle school. My Bible teacher, a certified twit and tyrant, humiliated me in front of my whole class.
What’s worse is my classmates – whom I hadn’t even gotten a chance to know yet – all left me for dead like a beat-up bum on the side of the highway.
I was in such shock I build a protective layer over me for the next 12 years. I was determined not to let anyone at that school ever do that to me again.
What a mistake.
The thing that kept me sane, alive, and able to make it into adulthood was writing.
Every day after school I’d go into my room and spill my feelings into notebook after notebook. That was my safe space; the place where no one could judge me, ridicule me or tell me I was no good. On those pages I held nothing back – my fears, my frustrations, my anger with the world and the bad hand I felt it dealt me.
Looking back, I believe this is what prepared me for the day I found my freedom. I was not only worthy and powerful on the page, I was worthy and powerful in public. I was as good as anyone who drew breath and put his or her pants on one leg at a time.
Writing did that for me. What could it do for you?
Writing helps you solve problems.
Ever get stuck?
It’s crippling when you have a problem and no matter what you do, you can’t see a solution.
The next time that happens, take out a pen and paper and write down every single thing you’re feeling. Describe what you see happening in your life. Tell yourself how much you think this sucks or how frustrating it is to be blocked.
When you’ve dumped everything on the page, walk away for a few minutes.
Then read what you wrote.
Now write what you’d say if this was someone else’s problem. You’ll be amazed at how powerful this exercise can be.
If you’re really daring, send the first draft to someone you trust completely and have them write the response.
Either way, you’ll solve some problems.
And that’s healthy.
Writing helps you see things in a new light.
I took a logic class when I was in college a hundred years ago.
One of the first assignments was to take a controversial issue and argue for both sides. If you have a strong opinion about the issue, this can be really tough.
But you know what? It can really broaden your perspective when you have to defend a position. It’ll help you be more persuasive, too.
Why is that?
Here’s the secret to persuading anyone of anything. First, you’ve got to see things through their eyes. You’ve got to get inside their skin to understand what motivates them to believe what they believe. If you can put aside judgment long enough to do that, you’ll have more civil conversations with those you disagree with.
You’ll probably have more friends, too.
When you have healthy relationships, you’ll be happier.
Writing makes you a better communicator.
I can’t tell you how many horrible emails I’ve seen in workplaces. And this doesn’t stop with writing. Horrible communication is spoken, too.
Writing forces you to use words to get what you want. Why? Because the context you get face to face isn’t there. Sure, you can imply it with emoticons. But that isn’t always appropriate, especially at work.
Here’s a challenge for you in this digital age where we are saturated to the drowning point with messages. Choose your words well. When you can state what you want in a friendly way with as few words as possible, you’ll be an incredible communicator, won’t you?
Try it and see what people say.
Writing can help you keep your sanity.
My local newspaper had a vent page years ago. It was full of anonymous rants that were fun to read, laugh at, and find something in common with the writer.
Venting feels good. We can’t bottle up strong emotions forever. Eventually, we’ll explode somewhere onto someone. Venting into a private journal gives you a safe zone to blow off steam before you kill someone with your verbal venom.
Writing can also give you a place to rave about your success without annoying your friends to death. It feels great to have win after win, especially when you’re building something you’re proud of. Share a little with the ones you love, but don’t turn into an obsessive maniac. Pour it into your journal instead. Then let those words drive you on to more success, more wins, and more happiness.
Writing gives you a rehearsal room for a tough speech.
Sometimes we all need to have a tough conversation.
Maybe you need to take an unpopular stand because it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps you want to have the right answers for a big interview next week. Or maybe you just want to ask your significant other to marry you.
These occasions are not to be taken lightly.
Why not rehearse on paper? If you say something dumb, just erase it and write it over. It’s the same idea that makes Toastmasters an awesome place to develop your speaking skills. Have a safe place to practice before you go live and do it for real.
It sure beats winging it.
And it might save you a ton of heartache.
Writing can make you money.
We all need cash to pay the bills.
Why not make some with your words?
You can. There’s a million ways to do it. You could write stories, package them into books, and sell them on Amazon. You could write better web copy for businesses online or in the real world. You can blog for people who need to but don’t know how.
You’ve got something to teach. You’ve got a story to tell. We need you to share it – and change that part of the world you’re called to serve.
What could be healthier to your overall life than that?
Start Writing Today
Here’s a simple way you can integrate writing into your healthy lifestyle.
Take ten minutes when you first wake up or just before bed and write your heart out. Think of it as a brain dump. No one has to see this but you. You don’t even have to read it again if you don’t want to.
And don’t worry about how good your words are. You don’t have to go pro to benefit from writing every day. Your brain will thank you. Then your heart will. And when the stress you’ve bottled up gets poured out somewhere safe, your friends and family will thank you.
Now that’s healthy
Start this week. Then let me know how it works for you. Your healthy future is waiting!
Frank McKinley is a Writing Coach, Promotion Strategist, and Idea Guy. He’s been a writer for as long as he can remember. He lives in Georgia with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Jake. Frank Mckinley helps writers get their messages read, shared, and remembered by building thriving writers. You can find him online at www.frankmckinleyauthor.com.