Blogging is a hobby many have. For varied reasons. Some of us wish to share experiences or knowledge. Hoping others may learn from what we’ve been through. And feel less alone. It’s the desire to help people that lead us to blog about mental health. I know it’s the reason I do.
But the story doesn’t necessarily end there. Whilst blogging can be hard at times. Feeling like another thing to find time to do. There are mental health benefits to the blogger. If we know where to find them.
For more crucial mental health tips for bloggers read here.
Mental Health Benefits
There are probably many and varied mental health benefits to blogging. Especially if you consider blogging or writing a form of self-care. Which many of us do. Or an integral part of your recovery journey. But above and beyond this, I’ve thought of a few more.
#1 Learning Something New
Blogging isn’t as simple as writing a post and uploading it. As we all know. It comes with a myriad of skills and tools. Many of which we will need to learn from others or teach ourselves. Blogging has taught me about SEO and web design. It’s taught me how to use social media more effectively, how to pitch a blog post to catch attention and how to design pins and banners on Canva. It’s also made me a better writer and editor.
Beyond the literal skills one gains when starting a blog. I find that with every post I learn something new. Learning as I research the new subject. And then, there’s what I learn about myself. As so many of my posts are about mental health. My own mental health considerations often seep into the text. Whilst writing these posts I’ve arrived at new conclusions and revelations about what might hurt or hinder my wellbeing.
The Benefits of Learning
Learning a new skill is one of the NHS 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Research shows that learning something new can boost our self-esteem and confidence. Think of a time that you finally conquered a new skill or understood something that had eluded you. There’s a special kind of elation which accompanies those moments. It’s also a reason that many people go into teaching. They live for the moment when something clicks and their students understand something for the first time.
We can also learn together. And that helps build crucial connections. Whether it’s by sharing your knowledge. Or connecting with someone who struggles with the same skill you do. Thereby helping you feel less alone. Learning together can create a powerful network of giving and sharing information and technique. I know I’ve found that online in the blogging community; but more on that later.
#2 Self Reflection
Self reflection is the skill or ability to introspect and think about yourself. Giving time to consider your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. All key components of your mental health. Often when writing a blog post, I consider my own reactions to the idea or technique presented. Some pique my curiosity. I want to try them out and add to my self-care ‘kit’. Others aren’t of interest to me or even trigger a negative reaction. Perhaps out of fear or rejection. At those times, I try and analyze why my reactions may be so strong. Is it because I’ve had a negative or difficult experience historically? If so, am I assuming I will do so again to my detriment?
Whilst I often do not include these moments of self reflection in the blog posts themselves. I certainly learn more about myself in those moments. More than I would if I wasn’t exposing myself to so many ideas about mental health on a regular basis. There’s also times that someone’s thoughtful contributions in the comment section make me pause for thought too. I wonder at our similarity or differences. Or they help me think about something in a new light.
#3 Practice What You Preach
I once joked to my sibling that “those who can’t do, teach”. And so, I teach mental health. Both professionally as a mental health educator, but also personally through my blog. I aim to encourage people to make self-care part of their routine. To role model looking after our wellbeing. And to learn more about mental health and it’s associated topics.
And yet, there have been times. Whether during a training session or when writing a blog post. That I realise I’ve been lax in a particular area. Perhaps encouraging people to find the time for self-care; no matter how hard that may be. Whilst knowing that I hadn’t made the time that week. Or encouraging people to respond to someone in distress with empathy. But then proceeding to try and ‘fix’ a problem for someone. Rather than first responding with “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard that must be for you”.
My blog reminds me daily to practice what I preach. It holds me to account to not only encourage others to look after themselves. Or to be their best selves. But to do the same.
For more on how to use empathy read here.
#4 Sense of Community
During my blogging journey I have felt support by others on a similar path. Whether from those who have reached out to share kind words. Or those who have retweeted, commented or liked my posts. And then there are those who have guest blogged for me over the past few months when I had my daughter. Their kindness was overwhelming. And I was privileged to be able to host them.
I think we can all appreciate what feeling part of a community can do for us. Feeling supported and less alone can be huge boosters to our mental health. Even something as small as a like, or someone taking time out of their day to read your post is incredible. It is the blogging and mental health communities I have found online that have encouraged me to keep blogging. Especially when I wanted to give up.
Feeling part of a community is integral to our sense of wellbeing. Research shows that those who are connected to friends and family are more likely to consider themselves happier. In fact, a Harvard study that followed 100s of men over a 70 year period found that the healthiest and happiest of them were those with strong relationships and support networks. And this doesn’t mean being surrounded with lots of friends. Another study found that having 10 or more friends was enough to have a significant impact on one’s happiness levels. Less than 10 increased your level of unhappiness. But more than 10 didn’t vastly increase happiness. Suggesting that approximately 10 friends is the optimum number. Adjusting for your personality and how much you enjoy socializing, of course.
#5 Mental Health Check In
Lastly, blogging reminds me to check-in with myself. Writing about mental health has made me more attuned to my own. It forces me to consider my moods. And ask questions. How am I feeling day? Why might I be feeling this way? I have far better self-awareness thanks to my blogging.
By being aware of my moods and my overall mental health. I’m able to see patterns which help me challenge negative thoughts. It’s too easy when I’m in a low mood or frustrated to write a day off as a ‘bad day’. By being more aware of how my mental heath has changed I can re-think. Instead I can acknowledge that it was a challenging morning. And yes, my mood was low. Or I was angry. But with some self-care or the passage of time, my mood improved. And by the afternoon I had motivated myself to do some chores. Or a workout. So, it wasn’t such a bad day after all. Our lower moods can cloud our judgement and paint swathes of time in a negative light. By checking in with my mental health and noticing the highs and lows I’m better equipped to remember the good days.
Likewise, checking in frequently with my mental health. And tracking my moods puts me in a better position to help myself. I am definitely guilty of throwing myself into chores and any distraction to avoid an emotion. Sometimes distraction can be helpful. But other times avoiding how I’m feeling only helps the emotions grow. And they inevitably make themselves heard one way or another. Instead, by acknowledging these feelings I have a choice. Confront or avoid. And with the knowledge that I really will feel better by working through the feelings and looking after my mental health. I’m more likely to make the right choice.
What do you think the biggest mental health benefits to blogging are? Do any of the ones above resonate with you? Or do you have different ones? As always, let us know below!