This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry comes from Stuckey, HL, and J Nobel, who explore the idea that human health – which they view as more than just the absence of illness – can be enhanced through the use of expressive arts. For the purposes of this blog post, I focus on the section that specifically explores expressive writing (pp. 259-261). You may view the full text here.
Annotated Bib Entry
Stuckey, HL, and J Nobel. “The Connection Between Art, Healing, And Public Health: A Review Of Current Literature.” American Journal Of Public Health 100.2 (2010): 254-263. CINAHL with Full Text. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.
This article offers a review of current literature on the relationship between the arts and healing. It includes a definition and overview of “holistic health” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The authors use this literature review to illustrate “the connection between artistic engagement and the psychosocial and biological manifestations of that connection.”
According to the WHO definition, “holistic health” encompasses the individual’s total well-being, including social and mental as well as physical aspects. The literature discussed in this article is reviewed as a response to the chronic diseases that have become a burden to the nation. Stress and depression are linked to preventable illnesses such as heart disease. Creative pursuits including expressive writing can help decrease stress and depression, which may then decrease chronic illnesses, thus reducing the burden on the community.
“Over the past decade, health psychologists have cautiously begun looking at how the arts might be used in a variety of ways to heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns. Given the ubiquity of creative expression, as well as the relative ease of engagement, the extent to which psychological and physiological effects are sustainably health enhancing is an important area for public health investigation” (254).
I totally agree with much of what the literature has to say on this topic, as writing is my go-to outlet for relieving stress and anxiety (running a close second to crocheting while watching Public Television!) For me, writing down what is bothering me is a great way to get it out of my head so I can stop thinking about it. It’s almost as though I keep running my worries through my head in an attempt to keep from forgetting something important: once I’ve written it down, I know I won’t forget it. Thus, there is no longer any reason to keep chasing after those troubling thoughts! I can literally set my worries aside and move on with my life.
Do you find that writing helps you decrease your stress and anxiety levels? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you enjoy my scholarly writing, you might also enjoy my new book, Papers: A Master Collection on the Art of Writing. Buy your copy on Kindle today for just 99 cents!