Better Health through Poetry

By Terri Kirby Erickson

Most women are very health-conscious these days. We do our best to eat right, take multi-vitamins, exercise regularly and get the rest our bodies need. Not only have we taken charge of our own health, we’re trying to instill healthy habits in our children. We also encourage our partners to make better, more health-conscious choices.

Thankfully, there is plenty of information “out there” that tells us how to do all of the above. However, not as much is being said about how important it is to keep our minds as healthy as our bodies. There are various methods people use to feel calm and “centered,” including meditation, yoga, tai chi and many others. What works for me, however, is both writing and reading poetry.

Perhaps you have bought into the common misconception that you have to be an English professor to understand poetry. However, much of what is being written today is totally accessible to anyone, and you don’t have to be a “professional” writer to personally benefit from writing poetry, yourself.

In my own life, I find it very soothing to compose poems about anything that strikes my fancy. One of my most popular poems, published in The Christian Science Monitor, is simply called, “Queen Anne’s Lace,” which is a plant I loved as a child. I enjoy writing about nature, but whatever topic I choose, I find that writing poetry creates moments of peace in my life, which is so important to our emotional wellness. It is also a fun, safe way to express our feelings.

As to reading poetry, there are so many wonderful books from which to choose for yourself and your children, many of whom will enjoy reading or listening to poems, too!

So, next time you’re feeling stressed, grab a few carrot sticks, sit down with pen and paper (or in front of your computer), and write a poem. Or, just pick up a book of poetry and read a few lines. Like me, I’m sure you’ll find that moments spent writing or reading poetry will have a positive impact on your overall health and well being.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of two collections of poetry, Thread Count and Telling Tales of Dusk. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, anthologies and other publications. For more information, please see her website at:

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