The Benefits of Handwriting for Your Brain

With the advancement of technology, there's been a tendency for handwriting to be relegated to the background. However, when you know its benefits, you may decide to reincorporate it into your life.
The Benefits of Handwriting for Your Brain

Last update: 20 February, 2022

With the advent of computers and other electronic devices, handwriting has taken a backseat. In fact, many people hardly use it in their day-to-day life anymore, since the pen has been replaced by the keyboard. However, it’s possible that, once you know the benefits of handwriting, you’ll return to using this traditional method in some areas of your life.

Typing on a keyboard is faster, easier, and more comfortable. Nevertheless, while you save time, you also lose your own personal imprint that you capture when writing by hand. It’s precisely those qualities that make typing a less beneficial option for your brain processes.

hand with keyboard

An improved emotional state

The brain pathways involved in typing a letter are different from those involved in writing a letter stroke by stroke. There’s a greater connection with the emotional regions of your brain when you write by hand. Your writing is more personal and emotion-focused and it helps you connect with, acknowledge, and manage your feelings.

One example of this is therapeutic writing. It consists of spending between 15 and 30 minutes a day to express your feelings in writing. Those who do it regularly obtain physical and psychological benefits. For instance, better immune function and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. The effects obtained by performing this exercise on a keyboard aren’t so favorable.

Research suggests that writing by hand about a stressful life event arouses much higher emotional levels. This translates into a greater therapeutic benefit. These effects may not be as noticeable for younger generations, as they’re more used to expressing themselves by typing. However, the emotional connection will never be the same in both types of writing.

Memory and learning

The regions of your brain associated with learning are more active when you write by hand than when you write on a keyboard. That’s because writing by hand promotes deep encoding of information and consolidates your learning.

Handwriting is a slower and more elaborate process. This facilitates learning, understanding, and memorization of content. In fact, students who took notes manually were found to perform better. That’s because writing by hand (because of the greater time it requires) forced them to understand the material and reformulate it in their own words.

Woman writing outdoors

Take care of words and relationships

Typing makes words much easier and faster to produce. The consequence of this is that many times you’re not so careful with your words as when writing by hand. Writing by hand forces you to slow down your writing process and allows you to take time to search and select the most suitable words. In this way, it helps you express yourself.

Due to the effort required and the personal imprint that they include, handwritten texts are much more appreciated by people. Because handwriting favors the care of written expression and social bonds.

Interestingly, it’s been observed that the doctor-patient relationship is benefited when the former takes notes by hand. Indeed, a better therapeutic link is established between the two, with the benefits that this entails for the entire medical process.

Weighing up the benefits of handwriting

In light of the above, you should probably reevaluate what type of writing you want to use in your daily life. For example, for work matters, typing on a keyboard is probably far more practical and effective. On the other hand, for processing emotional events, consolidating new information, or building human relationships, handwriting is more appropriate.

You should be careful and aware of the advancement of technology and take care not to lose such beneficial activities as writing. Get in the habit of writing (even for short periods of time) on a regular basis and you’ll soon see some positive changes.

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  • Brewin, C. R., & Lennard, H. (1999). Effects of mode of writing on emotional narratives. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies12(2), 355-361.

  • van der Meer, A. L., & Van der Weel, F. R. (2017). Only three fingers write, but the whole brain works†: a high-density EEG study showing advantages of drawing over typing for learning. Frontiers in psychology8, 706.