When college students think of writing, their minds travel to the seemingly irrelevant essays they have completed or are dreading completing in the future.
The memories of long nights in front of the computer screen, the strained feeling of their eyes as they fight to stay open, the indisputable unhealthy dependency on caffeine flood into their thoughts and then they may remember why they ‘hate’ writing. For students who do not have the slightest interest in English, composing a multi-page paper interpreting the thoughts of an author who wrote a book decades, maybe even centuries, ago is not appealing by any means.
But by taking a step back from looking at writing in the context of the classroom, its benefits are endless.
Writing is a great way to relieve stress. For college students, the feeling of being overwhelmed is nothing new. In fact, being relaxed might be an unfamiliar sensation. An important skill as a student is finding how to best cope with stress. Some students may already have it figured out—maybe they will take a jog on the treadmill, maybe they will indulge themselves in some chocolate, maybe they will listen to some music. However, for those students who have not found their perfect escape, let me suggest writing.
Whether it is making a list of things that need to be done or journaling about how the day went, the benefits are undeniable. Taking the thoughts that clutter your brain and putting them down onto paper lifts a weight off of your shoulders. Most students have heard the “get involved” speech plenty of times as they transitioned from high school to college and even more importantly, many students have taken said advice. With schedules packed from morning to night, it can be easy to forget smaller tasks as the day progresses. Making a list and checking jobs off is one incredibly simple form of writing that is much more rewarding than it sounds.
Also, a personal journal is as judgment-free as stress relief can be. If there is a social situation that plagues your mind, write it down. Recording thoughts on paper not only helps to put certain stress-inducing scenarios in perspective, it may even spark a creative fire within. Weaving stories and poems together, using inspiration from events that happen in life, allows your mind a priceless outlet. Even more interesting is that researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand have found that expressive writing can help physical wounds heal quicker.
And of course, as college students, few things are treasured more than sleep. This ever-elusive necessity can make or break a new day, so why not get the best out of what few hours are spent sleeping? Studies conducted from numerous psychologists have proven that logging in a “gratitude journal” for 15 minutes prior to sleeping will result in a more restful night. While it may sound cheesy, falling asleep thinking about the great things in life makes for a happier sleep.
If the thought of giving up 15 minutes daily is unimaginable, another study conducted by Robert A. Emmons (University of California, Davis) and Michel E. McCullough (University of Miami) shows that recording just one statement of gratitude once a week can have long term effects—a more optimistic and happier mindset.
When you write for yourself, there are no expectations and no rules—and let’s be honest, isn’t that the freedom that most college students are searching for?