Expressive Writing

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

Time Required

20 minutes per day for four consecutive days

How to Do It

Over the next four days, write down your deepest emotions and thoughts about an emotional challenge that has been affecting your life. In your writing, really let go and explore the event and how it has affected you. You might tie this experience to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career. Write continuously for 20 minutes.

Tips for writing:

  • Find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed
  • Write continuously for at least 20 minutes
  • Don’t worry about spelling or grammar
  • Write only for yourself
  • Write about something extremely personal and important to you
  • Deal only with events or situations you can handle now—that is, don’t write about a trauma too soon after it has happened if it feels too overwhelming.
  • Optional final step: After the four days of writing, try writing from the perspectives of other people involved in the event or situation.
Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

Why You Should Try It

Most of us have gone through times of great stress and emotional upheaval. This exercise gives you a simple, effective way to deal with these challenges and the difficult feelings they bring up. Research suggests that completing this exercise can increase happiness, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, and improve work and school performance. These benefits have been shown to persist for months.

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

Evidence That It Works

Pennebaker, J.W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapyJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 239-245.

Compared with a control group that wrote about superficial topics, participants who wrote about traumatic experiences for four consecutive days reported greater happiness three months later, visited the doctor less than usual during a six-week period following the writing exercise, and seemed to have a healthier immune system.

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

Why It Works

When we experience a stressful event or major life transition, it’s easy to ruminate over that experience; thinking about it can keep us up at night, distract us from work, and make us feel less connected to others. Expressive writing allows us to step back for a moment and evaluate our lives. Through writing, we can become active creators of our own life stories—rather than passive bystanders—and as a result feel more empowered to cope with challenges. Transforming a messy, complicated experience into a coherent story can make the experience feel more manageable.

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)
Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

For More

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(8 member ratings)

Completion Status

Comments & Reviews

  1. Paula Low
    Paula Low
    April 3, 2019

    I chose to do this practice to see if there were any subtle changes in the way I viewed the world around me and how I perceive others as well as myself. I, personally, found this practice to be emotionally alleviating because it was an outlet for all the emotions and feelings that I was keeping to myself. I decided to write down those feelings, expressing myself to try and understand why I was feeling the way I was, and it resulted in me being more open and in a lighter mood when around other people due to all the negative and stressful thoughts inside my head being ranted out onto a piece of paper. I learned to, instead of holding my emotions in, I write, read, and move on.

    January 10, 2019

    I've found that telling a story -- constructing a narrative through what GG calls Expressive Writing -- is one of the best ways to gain control of emotions. I don't like the mess my wife often leaves throughout the house. I can get every upset -- unreasonably so -- about stuff lying around. I went back into my childhood and examined how my mother kept my own house and how I felt about it then to discover where strong feelings were coming from. I still have feelings about "mess" but they are much less intense.

  3. fast assignment help
    fast assignment help
    August 28, 2018

    I happy that you have stated genuinely good information in this blog. Hope more good things will come in future as well. Information stated in points is particularly easy to understand and it seems that it comes from valid sources. Thanks for this blog and looking forward to similar posts in future.

  4. RunningOne
    April 26, 2018

    I find this exercise was too intense for me. When I was writing near the 15 minute mark I found that I hit an extremely sensitive place and felt off and anxious for the rest of the evening into the next day. I think I agree with John Burik’s comment about keeping it 3-5 minutes initially.

  5. Climber
    January 27, 2017

    This is easy and beneficial at first,but It seems that It can be overused and have a negative impact.

  6. Jonas Hjalmar Blom
    Jonas Hjalmar Blom
    January 17, 2016

    This is really one of the best exercises for me. Gives you a new perspective on events in your life and an understanding of how they contribute to who you are today.

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