5 ways expressive writing can help during a break-up

I was recently talking with a single mum who shared with me a tool she had found really helpful during her separation. She called it her angry book.

As its name suggests it was book where she wrote about things that were making her angry - big and little complaints about her ex, his behaviour, the process, daily life - anything she wanted to vent about and in the process get off her chest. The angry book gave her an outlet where she was free to write whatever was coming up for her, without fear of judgment she was being petty or guilt about burdening those around her.

Her angry book was a form of expressive writing, or writing therapy. Expressive writing has been the subject of a lot of research which has shown the benefits can be huge. There is no formula to it, but it’s usually unfiltered, unedited, free writing. Here’s a few ways expressive writing can help you through a separation.

  1. It can calm you down in moments of heightened emotion. The simple act of writing gets you using the left hemisphere of your brain – where logical and reason prevail - and out of your emotional right hemisphere. 

  2. It can reduce the tendency to ruminate and reduce stress. Once ideas are on paper, most people feel they are no longer running over and over them in their mind.

  3. It can help you gain new perspectives. Writing down your thoughts and feelings not only gets them out, but may allow you to see a situation or problem from a new perspective.

  4. It can improves your overall physical health. While the benefits to mental health may be more apparent, research suggests that expressive writing can improve a number of physical ailments.

  5. It can helps reduce conflict with your ex. Making your ex the target of your emotions, often leads to an escalation in the conflict and ultimately doesn’t help you. Having a private, free, and always available outlet for your emotions, complaints, grievances, hurt and disappointments makes it less likely you’ll feel the need to put those issues and emotions in communications with your ex.

The mum I spoke with, at the end of her separation journey, burnt her book. She said it seemed fitting and ensured it never fell into the wrong hands.

Have you tried any form of expressive writing in the past?  If you would be interested in finding out more about how I can help support you through your separation, please reach out here.

Please note: Expressive writing may help in your situation, however if you are under the treatment of a medical professional for a mental health condition, you may want to consult with them before commencing expressive writing.