Often as students we can find reading and writing tiring. We are required to do so much for our studies, and most of us remember growing bored of the books we had to analyse repeatedly for GCSE English. But the written word can be a great tool for supporting our mental wellbeing through tough times.
While we don’t often write letters to people nowadays, messaging apps can effectively play the same role in helping us express our feelings to one another. It can often be tricky to vocalise our thoughts: the feeling of not being able to get it all out or that it sounded much clearer in your head. The benefit of typing it out is that you can reword what you want to say, looking over it until you feel comfortable with it (even if proofreading isn’t fun in principle). While we feel there is an expectation to respond promptly once a message is marked as read, ultimately the power to answer is with you; you can take as long as you need to process and answer, in the process helping to make more sense of your own feelings.
Sometimes we don’t want to even say something to someone else, we just need to write things down for ourselves. Writing down our feelings can give a greater sense of clarity and validation to emotions that are difficult or seem conflicting. At times we might just want to get down everything, let out all the thoughts we keep bottled up inside as we go about our days. On other occasions, the page can be a useful tool to group ideas or find connections between seemingly separate issues. Even if you cannot find all the answers this was on your own, the process of structuring (and regularly restructuring) our thoughts can be reassuring when the mind is whirling.
Reading books can also be a great support for our mental health. There are the comfort reads, taking us to familiar places with characters we love and stories that make us laugh and cry. But new books with new stories to tell, fictional or real, can push equally give us greater sense of grounding. In particular, narratives that address real world harms and struggles can give us characters to empathise with and process our own pain through them. I know that there are words I would never have associated with my own experiences before, but the stories I have read helped me accept the things I do and don’t feel.