College blog

Express yourself! Writing poetry to boost your mental health

‘Hold me to the mirror light
and make my meaning clear’
- Message by Rachel Rooney

One of our courses at Nottingham Recovery College is ‘Journaling for Recovery,’ where students are invited to use journaling as an outlet for self-expression and reflection. This can take many forms and many of our students find it helpful to address this creatively. One of the many ways in which you might choose to journal is to write poems, a form of writing that may give you the opportunity to express yourself in a way you can’t do normally.

On 6 October, it is National Poetry Day and we thought that we’d take this opportunity to give you some inspiration for you to create your own poems.


‘The ground parched and cracked is like
          overbaked bread,’
- Autumn by John Clare

Sometimes feelings or experiences can be extremely difficult to articulate. When you are suffering with mental health issues, part of the problem may be that you can’t find the right words to tell others how you feel. Metaphors and images can help give precision to what you are trying to say.

 

‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul – ‘
- “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

Some people find recording their thoughts and insights of the day in a journal helps them to sleep better. A journal is a great place to get all of your worries and anxieties out of your head.

 

‘I remember Stonehenge
in the days where you
could still
get close to the stones.’
- Stonehenge by Brian Moses

Reflecting on past experiences in your creative writing can give you the opportunity to shed new light on that period of time.
 

‘I sat, I screamed, I jumped a foot
Would you believe that I had put
That tender little rump of mine
Upon a GIANT porcupine.’
- The Porcupine by Roald Dahl

Like music, you can use rhythm in a poem to create a non-verbal effect. This has more impact when you recite your poem out loud. In this instance, Roald Dahl has used short sentences for comedic effect. Why not try to write a funny poem?

Voicing your emotions, such as in psychotherapy, where you would talk with a therapist, has been shown to lead to improvements in many areas such as moods and symptoms, doctor visits and even immune cell counts! Getting it off your chest can really make a difference. What’s more, this improvement is not only seen in therapy but studies have shown that you can get these benefits from expressive writing.

The most difficult part about creative writing can often be simply getting started. You may think that you have nothing to write about, or that what you have to say is not that interesting. However, that’s not the idea for this type of writing. You don’t ever have to show it to anyone and you may surprise yourself! The process of trying to articulate your thoughts and feelings differently could lead to a new strategy to help you with your mental and physical health.

 

‘I thought that nothing ever happened to me.
To other people, yes, but not to me.
But baby I was as wrong as I could be.’
- Roosevelt Hospital Blues by Rachel Hadas

There are shelves of poetry books on the 3rd Floor at Nottingham Central Library if you are interested in reading more poems before you get started on writing!
 

If you’d like to find out more about Journaling for Recovery, please pop into the office at Nottingham Recovery College for a chat or call us on 0115 9560827.

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