Howard Butcher, associate professor of nursing and a researcher at the University of Iowa, is doing a study to find whether writing can help relieve the stress of caregivers of dementia patients. I think he is looking for me (my mother now has severe short-term memory loss). Butcher found in previous studies that writing can have psychological and physical health benefits after only three 20-minute sessions. This is not news to those who practice journaling.
You may have heard that writing down one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences can help us deal with unpleasant situations or events, even trauma. There are different kinds of therapeutic writing, but good spelling, grammar or writing technique are unnecessary and besides the point which is to let the feelings rush out past the floodgates and onto the paper where they can sort themselves out better. If you are looking just for stress relief, you don’t even have to read what you write! Some may call this therapy, some may call it “venting,” but most of us know how good it feels to “vent.” (Just a thought – if you don’t want anyone else to read what you write, toss your notes in the fireplace afterwards, shred them or keep them under lock and key.)
Anyone who is caring for a relative or friend with any serious memory-loss condition is welcome to visit http://swee.iowa.uiowa.edu or call 1-319-335-7039 to participate in Butcher’s study.