Expressive Writing

Learn how expressive writing can help you cope with stress. If you are the type of person that bottles everything up inside you will eventually explode. Everyone needs an outlet to vent their frustrations once in a while.

Many of us don't like to talk about how we feel as it's just not who we are. It doesn't matter why we don't like to talk, sometimes we just have to accept that's the way we are. If you can't express your thoughts and feelings to others you might be able to express them to yourself.

If you are uncomfortable about writing to express yourself you could always try a little creative writing instead. This will still help you to escape but you will be writing just for fun rather than exploring the reasons for your stress.

Express Yourself

The following article will show you how to write to express yourself, there is no need to worry about spelling or grammar.

Write in the first person as you are expressing how you feel. By writing 'I feel...' or 'I want...' then you are addressing yourself and this will make your writing have far more impact on you and the way you feel.

Try writing down how you feel in a private notebook. No one else has to see this you can hide it from prying eyes, you don't even have to read what you have written.

If you feel really self conscious about writing down your thoughts you can throw them away, shred them or burn them as long as you do so safely.
The act of writing down how you feel will get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Often by writing things down it makes it a lot easier to make sense of your thoughts.

Write About How You Feel

Just write about how you feel, if you have been given a tough assignment at work, school or college.

Just write something like 'I can't do this' over and over.

If you are still writing 'I can't do this' when you get half way down the page stop and start writing down why you can't do it.

Expressive writing is a way of getting you to step back and really discover how you really feel about something.

You can do the same exercise for a lot of the situations that cause stress.

  • If you have lost your job and need to find another.
  • You're about to retire and don't know what to do with yourself without gainful employment.
  • Trying to get over a break up with a partner.
  • Moving away from home and living alone for the first time.
  • The kids have left home and the empty nest is making you feel useless and unneeded.
  • You may be struggling with illness or disability or watching a loved one struggle.

This exercise can be done no matter what is causing your stress.

Be Your Own Best Friend

Now imagine that it's your closest friend that has this problem what would you advise them to do.

  • How would you help your best friend?
    Break down the task or problem into smaller manageable chunks.
  • Write down the steps needed to overcome the problem or that may help you to accept or deal with your new reality.
  • Ask someone to help you, you can talk about it hypothetically or pretend your asking advice for a friend if you don't want to let others know how you are feeling.
  • Do some research, ask others who have been where you are to find out how they managed.

Do anything to get out of the 'I can't do it' frame of mind. Once you stop thinking 'I can't do it' your mind will start looking for ways to help you to accept your situation and you will be able to deal with your stress.

Keep a Journal

A journal is a great way of getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You don't have to just write in it either.
Use sketches or doodles as well, in fact use anything that helps you to express how you feel.

Add photo's or cut out pictures from newspapers or magazines. A photo of a brewing storm might help you to start writing about how you feel when the stress starts to build up.

A sketch of some rain drops might help you to write about why you want to cry. A photo of a blue sky with fluffy clouds, or the sky line of your favorite city, a funny cartoon or a photo of your loved ones just might help you feel a little better when you are really down. 

Further Reading

Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing by Karen A Baikie and Kay Wilheim.

Write yourself well by John F. Evans, Ed.D

These links will open a new window so you don't lose this page.

What would you like to do now?

Return to top of expressive writing where you can choose one of Mia’s craft ideas from the navigation bar on the left.

Go to creative writing and learn how to write for fun.

Visit Mia’s Craft Ideas home page to find out more about our website.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.