An Expressive Writing Practice

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 feelings of happiness, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, and improve work and school performance.

Best of all, these benefits have been shown to persist for months.


A practice is an action or activity done repeatedly with the intention of building your capability and competency leaving you more able to deal with your challenges in your own way.

The purpose of this practice is:

  • To increase feelings of happiness

  • To support you in expressing your big thoughts and feelings

  • To reduce feelings of anxiety and depression

  • To increase feelings of self-worth and agency

  • To support you in writing your own story


  1. Set aside 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days.

  2. Ensure that this is a time and space where you will not be disturbed.

  3. Each day, 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 a childhood experience, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career.

  4. Write continuously for 20 minutes.

  5. 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.

  6. Optional final step: After the four days of writing, try writing from the perspectives of other people involved in the event or situation.

Continue this practice daily for four days

Network of support:
Enlist the support of someone close to you (someone who cares about you and your well-being).
Ask him/her to check in with you daily to follow up on your practice and to hold you accountable.