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10 Reasons Why Writing Lists Boosts My Mood

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I love writing, but especially as someone who struggles with mental health conditions, it can be hard to start or finish projects. One way I get over writer’s block is by writing a fun top 10 list. It gets the creative juices flowing and can inspire other writing projects.

Here are 10 reasons writing top 10 lists can be a great exercise for your mental health:

1. Flexes your creativity.

Writing a top 10 list, or even creating a list to write, can get some the creative juices flowing. You don’t have to be a painter to paint or a writer to write, and top 10 lists are great ways of being creative without traditional writing aspirations. Anyone can write a top 10 list.

2. Not too overwhelming.

Ten, at least to me, seems like a totally graspable number. It’s not 100, for sure. Ten can fit on most journal pages with space to write a few sentences per entry. Try three or five if 10 is too much.

3. Satisfying to complete.

Finishing a top 10 list provides a sense of accomplishment. For those of us with mental illness, this can be incredibly satisfying and a mood booster or provide a self-esteem bump.

4. Overcome writer’s block.

Sometimes the act of writing can start more writing. Writing a top 10 list might spark an idea for another project. Writing about places you’d love to travel? Maybe you want to write a travel article or a story about someone who is traveling.

 5. Have fun records of a time in your life.

I love to put a date on my journals or top 10 lists so when I look back on them, I can see what I was thinking about at that moment in time. Maybe I thought this up and coming American Idol star would be a great pen pal and 10 years later he is a top 10 artist. Maybe I add to my list how cool it would be to work at this company and then I land a job there! Looking back tells a story of a particular time in your life and your values.

6. Not too time consuming.

Again, I’m asking for a top 10, not top 100, list. This may take five minutes or an afternoon, depending on how deep you go. But rarely will this take more than a few days unless you want it to.

7. Relaxation.

Writing top 10 lists can be very relaxing. Go as fun as you want with paper, journals, marker or pens! Doodle away too.

8. You get to verbalize your feelings and desires.

Putting into words what you enjoy or your favorites of something can be a great way to express yourself. Finding the words can be a very important part of healing or sharing with others how you feel. Even just being able to express one’s self is important.

9. Visualization of things you enjoy.

If you’re writing a top 10 list of your favorite things, you might visualize them. This can be incredibly enjoyable. Imagine spending time writing your top 10 favorite things to eat and visualizing each meal in detail.

10. Finishing, or even just starting, gives you a win.

This goes along with number three and sometimes lists overlap and entwine. You wrote a list? You’re a writer. Well, maybe not if it was a grocery list, but I think you know what I mean! I’m so proud of you for trying and it’s a success just to begin.

Sometimes for me even lists are hard. That’s OK! Not every day is going to be your best writing day. I say, don’t beat yourself up. But of course, that’s easier said than done. If you were a fly on the wall in my therapy sessions you would know I do it all too often.

Also, I do one-10 so I know when I’ve reached 10. But I don’t rank order things. Don’t overanalyze and don’t overthink this! It’s just a list. Thailand or France as your number one spot you’d like to visit? I’m pretty sure either would be amazing! I do stream of consciousness for my lists. Some of my most fun writing is writing lists to write! (See below). I hope you can enjoy a writing practice as much as I do.

10 “Top 10” Lists to Write

And these aren’t to-do lists necessarily. The travel list is not meant to be a bucket list, it’s meant to be a list of places that would be cool to travel to! If they inspire you, great!

1. Places I want to travel.

2. Restaurants I want to try.

3. Inspirational quotes.

4. Articles I want to write for The Mighty.

5. Things I wish people knew about mental illness.

6. Favorite things about Fall (or upcoming season).

7. Ways to relax my body and/or mind.

8. Favorite Movies/Books/Podcasts.

9. Famous people (living or dead) who I think would make good penpals.

10. Attributes of a dream home.

Getty image by PeopleImages

Originally published: October 14, 2022
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