John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

Expressive Writing

Writing expressively is a deep dive into the dark waters of your soul.

James Pennebaker and his colleagues have shown that when people write about a stressful life event for just 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days, they reduce the number of sick days they report, improve immune functioning, and decrease dysphoria (negative moods) and anxiety.

In other words, writing makes you feel better, but it also helps you physical body. (Is this not cool?)

Why? Writing is one way of helping you transform negative experiences. Writing about pain helps you find meaning in your experience, and place it in the broader context of your life story.

If you're going try expressive writing, make sure you write honestly, openly, and without filtering your emotions. You're more likely to write like this is you make an agreement with yourself that the output will be kept strictly private.

Unlike a diary, which is a record of the day's events, expressive writing requires you to plunge into your subjective experience. What you feel, think, want, need, wish for. And –– most importantly –- what hurts.

Don't worry about good grammer or being literary. What matters is that you dive deep into what you truly feel.

Skeptical? Fair enough. But maybe try refraining from passing judgment on it until you've tried it.