Poetry Can Help In Managing Anxiety and Depression, Study Shows

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Engaging with literature, such as reading, writing, or sharing poetry, has been identified in recent research from the University of Plymouth as a beneficial strategy to combat loneliness. The study indicates that these literary activities can assist individuals in coping with isolation, alleviating loneliness, and diminishing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Poetry can help cope against stress  

The collaborative study with Nottingham Trent University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, found that individuals who engaged with poetry as a means of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic experienced a notable positive impact on their well-being.

The study, based on a survey of 400 participants, indicated that poetry was beneficial not only for those dealing with common mental health symptoms but also for individuals experiencing grief. The survey included users of the website poetryandcovid.com, served as a platform for sharing and reading poetry during the pandemic.

More than half of the participants (51%) revealed that reading and/or writing poetry played a significant role in coping with loneliness and isolation. Additionally, 50% of respondents found poetry beneficial in managing anxiety and depression feelings.

About 34% noted that interacting with the website contributed to a reduction in their anxiety, and 24% felt more capable of handling their problems. Furthermore, 17% indicated that the website aided in addressing bereavement issues, and 16% reported its efficacy in dealing with ongoing symptoms of mental health.

Poetry influenced individuals’ wellbeing during COVID-19 pandemic

Study leader Anthony Caleshu, a Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at the University of Plymouth, said that the results reveal the significant influence of poetry on individuals’ well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both writing and reading poetry, along with engagement on a specific website, positively impacted participants.

Beyond personal health benefits, the website contributed to social and cultural recovery, shedding light on the role of poetry as a form of communication during the pandemic. The platform serves as a historical archive documenting how people globally utilized English language poetry to navigate the crisis.

Co-study investigator, Dr Rory Waterman stated that tethering poetry into the website has a positive impact on the link between poetry and wellbeing.

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