Blogging is a popular method for sharing information with a large audience. Did you know that it could also be good for you in terms of mental health?
We get that this is a stressful time right now. You and millions of other students around the country are still trying to figure out whether you’re going back to school, or how long schools might remain open. The information can change from day to day, which makes it almost impossible to plan ahead.
There are also added pressures resulting from COVID-19 protocols. Even if schools remain open, things are going to be very different compared to what we’d consider “normal.” On top of that, you have the regular, day-to-day sources of stress you’d be dealing with anyway as a high school student.
First, it’s important to be clear about this point: feeling stressed out is a normal response, given the circumstances.
We can’t always avoid sources of stress. Instead, what we need is a healthy outlet to divert some of that stress and channel is into a creative direction. Even if you wouldn’t normally think of yourself as a writer, starting up a blog can be a super-helpful way to manage the kind of stress we’re talking about.
The Basics of Blogging
You’re probably already familiar with blogging, but just in case, here’s a quick explainer.
Blogging first emerged back in the late ’90s. This means it predates common platforms like YouTube, and even most social media platforms by several years. Blogging came about with the introduction of web publication tools that enabled people without technical knowledge to publish written information online for the first time.
People quickly started running their own blogs (short for “weblogs”), covering just about any topic you can imagine. Even though later innovations like social media and YouTube became more popular options for sharing information, blogs are still a widely-used platform by people around the world.
The main advantage of a blog is that it is entirely under your control. It’s a space you manage that gives you the freedom to publish what you want, without space or character limitations. You can cover a specific topic that interests you, or you can simply treat it like an online diary, writing about your day-to-day experiences.
How Blogging Can Help You
We’ve understood the mental health benefits of keeping a journal for decades. In fact, journaling and expressive writing are among the most commonly-used therapy techniques employed today.
Keeping a journal can help you:
- Manage anxiety and stress by putting events and feelings in context.
- Organize your thoughts and better understand your fears and concerns.
- Keep track of developments in your life that you can reflect on later.
- Identify and work to eliminate negative behaviors more easily.
Blogging offers all of these benefits. Plus, because you can share a blog with other readers around the world, it can also be a great way to express yourself, share information, and find like-minded people who can relate to what you’re experiencing.
The American Psychological Association (APA) says there are clear benefits to blogging. This can be true whether we’re dealing with a traumatic experience, or just day-to-day source of stress.
One especially helpful technique could be to combine blogging with another practice called expressive writing therapy. This practice involves simply grabbing a notebook and writing down what comes to mind, all freehand. The idea is to have as little barrier between your hand and your mind when doing this.
Once you’ve got your raw thoughts down on the page, you can try to organize and draw connections between ideas by constructing them into a full blog post. This may help you better understand your own thoughts and feelings on a variety of subjects.
A Few Words of Warning
We want to give a couple of important disclaimers here, though. First, while keeping a blog can help you, it should not be seen as a substitute for therapy when it’s really necessary. Blogging can be a good stress management technique, but is not a “cure” or “treatment” on its own. We strongly recommend talking to a professional if you feel like that will be the most helpful approach for you.
Second, the positive effects of blogging are not a guarantee. You’ll only get out of the activity what you put into it. Blogging is, at its core, a form of social media, and if you’ve had negative experiences with social media in the past, you might want to think twice before giving blogging a try.
Finally, you might try blogging for a bit, but feel like it’s not having an overall positive impact on your life. That’s totally fine as well; blogging isn’t for everyone. Instead, try setting it aside and looking for something more else that might be more helpful to you as an individual.
Ready to get started?
There are plenty of ways to launch your blog, from professional editing software to basic hosting platforms. In our next blog post, we’ll examine a few different options to see which might be best for you.