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As 2020 draws to a close, there are many words that spring to mind when we think back on this most memorable year. One of those key phrases might be “mental health”. Regardless of how well or badly 2020 treated us, we can all agree that concerns about mental health are at an all-time high. The past year may have called upon us to protect or even rescue our mental well-being and many of us are exploring ways to lighten our outlook on the world.

One of the best ways to improve our mental health is through the writing process. Researchers have found multiple benefits connected with expressive writing. By putting our thoughts down on paper, we help ourselves process difficult experiences, putting space between ourselves and painful events or circumstances. Covid has caused a work/life disruption for many people. Setting small goals, like writing for 15 minutes a day, can improve our outlook by giving us a small sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.

Expressive writing can take many forms, as well. Some may enjoy journaling or writing poetry about their experiences. Others may want to escape into the world of fiction by creating their own imaginary worlds. Whatever your preferred method of expression, there are resources available to help you start the writing process. The University of Michigan's Rogel Cancer Center has put together a useful online tool to help you get started processing your experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

November is NaNoWriMo, a month that is dedicated to the practice of writing. Sign up for a free account and access tools to give you inspiration and help you track your progress as a writer. Take the opportunity to explore writing as one method to change your outlook for the better. Even though November has passed us by, NaNoWriMo tools are available all year long.

One of the following books available at the Harris County Public Library might be a good start:

open-up-by-writing-down

writing-cure

pen-in-hand

journalution

Ready to share your work with others? Check out HCPL’s writing groups, many of which meet weekly. Joining a writing group can be a great way to connect with others and gain helpful tips and techniques on the writing process.

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