In Sophie Grégoire’s latest episode of It’s OK To Not Be OK, she chats with poet and best-selling author Tyler Knott Gregson. They both discuss how much writing positively contributes to our mental health, as it’s able to relieve all of society’s noise. Gregson reveals that he had been diagnosed with autism at an early age. He says writing actually soothed his condition as a child, as it became a sense of relief from all the pressure built up in his brain. Throughout the episode, Grégoire praised the level of vulnerability in Gregson’s writing. He says this was mostly due to the constant exposure to feminine energy in his life.

Somer Slobodian is a journalist from Niagara Falls. Writing has been part of her life for several years now and says that it’s always been an outlet that made her feel good. We chat with her about writing’s ultimate power, and how much of its practice we can truly benefit from.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for pretty much as long as I can remember. Professionally, only since the past three-ish years. Ever since I was in high school, whether it would be writing fiction, journaling my thoughts, or even stories about myself. I’ve always been drawn to creating that and getting lost in them.

What do you think are some of writing’s therapeutic benefits?

So many. For journaling, I like to talk about my feelings and what’s going on in my day-to-day life. It helps me feel more at ease and relaxed. Even writing professionally, from writing listicles to any other type of piece that helps other people. It makes me feel good about myself because it means I’m doing something right. It’s also sort of meditating even. I say that because you’re able to get the words out there. Whatever you’re trying to say, even if you’re just writing something silly or a prompt; anything that feels good to you. It’s a feel-good exercise to do. It has definitely helped me to grow as a person. It’s helped me through some things, especially when it comes to my mental health.

How has writing allowed you to manage your daily stresses and anxieties?

Sometimes when I find myself becoming anxious about what other people are thinking about me, I start to write down my thoughts about it. It helps in bringing me back to reality and observing what I’m thinking. Being able to write it down and see it on paper, tells me that maybe I overreacted. I can feel a bit calmer after that. Because it feels like you’re actually telling someone what’s on your mind without actually telling them. You’re just telling yourself, but it does feel like you’re sharing something, and that’s therapeutic. It does help bring my stress levels down.

How has writing helped you gain perspective when facing tough times?

As someone who suffers from extreme anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In my head, sometimes I think something bad will happen if I don’t wash my hands for a certain amount of time. When I was younger I used to wash them until they were dry, until they felt right. Writing, it’s helped me navigate through my anxious thoughts. After about 10 minutes of writing about how I feel, I look back at that and start to feel calmer. Nothing bad actually happened, everything was fine. I can move on with my day.

Given the non-judgemental space, writing provides, what are some of the ways it has helped you towards your own journey to self-acceptance?

That’s a good question. I feel like I’m still on that journey to self-acceptance and self-love. I don’t think I’m 100 percent there yet. But I have learned some lessons along the way. Something that always used to be on my mind was that I just didn’t know what I was going to be doing with my career and life. That was always a stressor. But then I wrote about it, and it taught me that it was okay if I didn’t know. I didn’t have to have everything figured out. I am not ahead or behind anyone else. Maybe, I’m right where I need to be. I’ve been working towards self-acceptance, and by continuing to write, I feel like I’m getting closer to that through expressing myself.

How has writing made you feel heard?

It’s given me a voice. Writing for the newspaper these past few weeks for my internship, I had family constantly telling me that they had seen my work, read my pieces, and are noticing my hard work. I wrote something for World Oceans Day recently. Not only did it make me feel heard, but it also helped get my message across about its environmental importance. I’ve also written about plus-size brands, it just helps me get the important issues out there.

Why do you think writing improves our overall wellbeing?

It’s an outlet, right? You don’t even have to be writing professionally. You could simply be writing a few sentences a day while you’re journaling or even if you have your own blog. I just think for so many of us, it’s a way of expressing ourselves. Of being open, honest, and transparent. It helps us get through tough situations and find communities through various workshops and groups. You don’t have to be a professional writer for it to help you mentally. If you’re a bit shy or embarrassed to talk to someone about your problems, “talking” to your pen and paper is something that could be really helpful when taking the next steps to help yourself.