Reflective Writing: A New Hobby

Reflective writing can help us manage fear.

Posted Mar 21, 2020

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Woman writing.
Source: Pixabay

There are many ramifications of the present pandemic. In addition to the broad financial, social, and psychological implications, some believe that spending more time at home alone is a good opportunity to look inward. Self-reflection can result in a better understanding of both oneself and the universe. In addition, self-reflection through writing can become a wonderful new hobby!

When we reflect, we use cognitive, imaginative, and creative processes to examine our lived experiences. This refers to both inner and outer landscapes. To be able to reflect, we must be attentive and make keen observations about ourselves and others.

By engaging in a regular reflective writing practice, we unlock a wealth of knowledge and feelings. It also makes us think about the thought processes associated with our current situations, such as social distancing and quarantines. Writing about the present connects us to, or reminds us of, past experiences. This is one way to connect the dots, but getting our narrative on the page also helps us understand it. 

Many medical schools have begun to include reflective and narrative writing in their curricula as a way to form deeper patient-doctor relationships. In addition to enhancing these relationships, reflective writing encourages medical professionals to look within. By engaging in this practice, physicians are encouraged to write about what their particular medical areas mean to them, as well as their patients, colleagues, and society at large. During the process, what sometimes emerges is a conflict between what might be learned in the classroom and what the clinician sees at the bedside. This can lead to profound introspection and reflection, which results in transformation.

Reflective writing encourages us to write about our emotional truth. Everybody has their own version of their own emotional truth, but reflective writing allows us to dip into our subconscious minds in the most conscious manner. It’s not about just reporting a story; rather, reflective writing encompasses the emotions connected to the lived experience. 

There is so much power in words, so it would be safe to say that those who express themselves through the written word are trying to solve some sort of inner conflict, regardless of the genre they choose. They use writing as a medium that helps them see things as they are. It also allows them to compare the present to the past. 

Some ways in which reflective writing can help us heal include the following:

1. It encourages us to pay attention to the now.

2. It helps us be more aware of our feelings.

3. It helps cultivate an understanding of where we are, where we were, and where we’re going.

4. It helps us recognize the importance of living in the moment without judgment.

5. It encourages our awareness of our present emotions—that is, whether we’re scared, happy, uncertain, depressed, and so on.

6. By stepping back from yourself and finding a new perspective, it’s easier to let go of old patterns of thinking and behaving.

Reflective Writing Prompts

  • Describe the effect of COVID-19 on your present life.
  • Write about someone else’s current situation.
  • Write about the first time in your life you were fearful and what it felt like.

In summary, reflective writing cannot replace therapy, but it partners well with this practice and also helps people connect with others as a way to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.

References

Baggs, C., L. Mckhann et al. (2013). ”Healing Through Reflective Writing: Breast Cancer Survivors’ Experience. Clinical and Health Affairs. July.

Coles, R. (2010). Lives We Carry With Us: Profiles of Moral Courage. New York, NY: The New Press.

Johna, S., M.D., and A. Dehal. “The Power of Reflective Writing: Narrative Medicine and Medical Education.” The Permante Journal. Fall 2013. 17(4). pp. 84–85.