The Health Benefits of Writing a Memoir

I recently read an article from Harvard Medical School about the health benefits of writing your life story or memoir. The article says that as we age we tend to feel less relevant—we retire from jobs that may have given us a strong sense of purpose and we can become isolated from family, friends and our local community through illness, injury or financial constraints. 

Sharing your personal story by writing a memoir helps you see you’ve lived a worthwhile life. You may be surprised by the level of interest your family members display in your history. Sharing a life story can deepen connections between family members, and children or grandchildren can feel closer to their parent or grandparent as they experience what it was like for them when you were the same age. 

Rather than focusing on what you’ve lost through illness and ageing, writing a memoir can renew your vigor as you retell stories and share memories from the past. People who are bored can feel more motivated and those with depression may experience relief from symptoms as they share their memories. Writing your memoir can help you re-establish a sense of personal power by exploring ways you coped with difficult times in the past and identify how you can use these skills today.

Sharing your life story re-establishes life meaning through connection to the past and reasserts your feelings of relevance and importance. Passing wisdom and life learnings onto children and grandchildren and being taken seriously can help to improve your self-esteem and confidence.

Writing a memoir can also be therapeutic as a person explores issues buried deep in their memory. A study in theJAMAPsychiatry revealed that a form of writing therapy, ‘written exposed therapy’ was just as effective as traditional cognitive behaviour therapy in treating adults with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

And importantly, memoirs enable you to leave a lasting legacy to your family and generations to come. 

Gabriella Kelly-Davies
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