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May 4, 2023

BLOG: The Sci-Artist’s Way

In this series of blogs, our Creative Programmes Coordinator Sunny Townsend, brings a novel perspective to the work of Albatross Arts and the ways to capture the power of the creative arts on well-being.

 

My name is Sunny and I just joined Albatross Arts as a Creative Project Coordinator. 

This is my first job working in the creative industries as I come from a science-y background. Sadly art and science don’t mix as much as they should. But having recently felt the power of the creative arts on my own well-being, I hope to draw on my background to help capture the impact of Albatross Arts.

For 6 weeks I am going to reflect on a core service – weekly workshops led by our Creative Director Alex McEwan for carers/parents of SENSE service users – and hold a geeky scientific magnifying glass over aspects that I observe affecting the well-being of the participants, including myself.

Alex started the workshop with a free writing exercise where we wrote continuously, about anything we liked, in silence for 5 minutes. The first thing that came out of my brain onto the paper was ‘this is new to me but it’s making me smile’. Even better, one participant said it had helped her solve a problem that was bugging her.

I’d not heard of free writing before exactly, although I did practice Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ many years ago and still occasionally write whatever is bothering me in a journal. Alex explained ‘Free writing is just a variation of expressive writing in which you give permission for the writer not to hamper the flow with concerns of grammar etc.’

Coming at it from my new perspective, I was keen to know what was the evidence that expressive writing improves well-being, and how? Evidence is generally communicated in academia through writing referenced papers, substantiating every claim, argument or opinion with credible evidence from research. For geekiness and as a way of sharing more information, I’m including references in this post! 

And what I found was that expressive writing is a well-established evidence-based therapy with a huge number of documented benefits to both physical and mental health [1]. Fascinatingly this includes ‘Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain’ which is something I have struggled with. Not only that but when I started journaling years ago I was under a lot of stress at work not sleeping well – and low and behold it has been shown to help with thoughts that keep you up at night [2].

How does expressive writing make us feel better? By acknowledging, accepting, expressing and letting go of feelings, amongst other powerful things [1, 2].

I hope you’ll stick with me on this weekly journey.

 

 

[1] Therapeutic Journaling by Shilagh A. Mirgain, PhD and Janice Singles, PsyD (2016, updated 2023).

[2] Write it Out – Just One Thing with Michael Moseley

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