The Science Behind Expressive Writing


The practice of keeping a journal has been part of human experience for centuries. People have used it to express themselves, to preserve their memories or make sense of their thoughts and emotions. 

It is not a coincidence that great minds, such as Einstein, Obama, Oprah, Darwin and Da Vinci all used the art of journaling as a medium to express, explore and process their inner realities and shape their lives. The last century has brought us a lot of research, which has explained why this form of writing (also known as expressive writing), can feel so beneficial to us, both short and long-term.




Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Leading experts in the field of expressive writing Dr James Pennebaker and Dr Joshua Smyth have conducted many studies. The results have proven the positive effect of expressive writing on our minds and bodies. Their research captivated the attention of many others specialists, including experts in the field of neuroscience and neuroimaging, who have further confirmed its many benefits.

All of the studies show that writing, even if only for a few minutes a day, may help you to:

  • Lift your mood
  • Feel a greater sense of well-being
  • Decrease stress levels
  • Ease depressive and anxiety symptoms
  • Improve relationships
  • Boost your immune system and
  • Improve physical health ex. Lower blood pressure or speed-up recovery




Go Deep Within to Reap the Benefits of Writing


We need to bear in mind, however, that there is more to it than just writing to preserve the events of the day or the names of the places we have visited during our holiday. For expressive writing to have a beneficial effect on us, we need to write about our deeply felt emotions and experiences.


“We don’t need to talk to others to tell our untold stories.” […] Translating thoughts into language can be psychologically and physically beneficial. When people write about important events, they begin to organise and understand them. Writing about the thoughts and feelings that are connected with unexpected experiences forces us to bring together their many facets. Once we can distil the complex experiences into more understandable packages, we can begin to move beyond them.”

From ”Opening up by Writing it Down.”




Put a Break on Endless Stream of Thoughts 

The power of writing truly lies in the act of verbalising our thoughts and feelings. By taking it all out of our minds and putting it onto paper helps us to put a brake on the endless stream of the often repetitive and troubled thoughts. Research has demonstrated that writing about our inner experiences helps us to process them, gain clarity and alleviate stress. It also has a positive effect on our immune system by strengthening it, which leads to improvement of many health conditions such as high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, cancer, Parkinson, Asthma and many others.




Writing Helps You Stay True to What You Feel


According to research, the sharing of our thoughts and experiences with another person can similarly help us. However, it is most likely, that we will edit what we say to avoid being judged, rejected. We will adjust what chose to share to meet social expectations or leave out various aspects of our stories simply because we don’t trust the listener enough. The power of expressive writing is that it can be done at any time, anywhere and in one’s own company.




Expressive writing can be of benefit to anyone. It helps people who:


  • Seek clarity with their thought and feelings
  • Need to make important life decisions
  • Want to know themselves better
  • Want to solve problems
  • Want to reduce stress
  • Want to improve their mental health
  • Create a more meaningful life




Pathways toward greater awareness, insight and transformation

In addition to all of the benefits mentioned above, expressive writing can allow you to notice and track your behaviour patterns and tendencies.  It also makes it possible to go back and trace your improvements and personal growth over time. In his workshops, Darius Lukas turns multiple expressive writing techniques into practice writing quests, exercises, prompts and questions that create a pathway toward greater awareness, insight, and transformation. The only tools you need are a pen and paper, or your phone.




Written by Asha Kic


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