RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Writing about your positive experiences can do more than put you in a good mood. A study on writing and health published last week in the medical journal Psychology and Health suggests that the feel-good effects of positive writing carry over into boosting your physical well-being as well.
THE DETAILS: Researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia asked 38 psychology students to write for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days either about a personal, very positive life experience or an unemotional topic (such as “describe the shoes you are wearing today”). Before and after each writing session, the participants completed a brief questionnaire designed to determine their mood at the time and, immediately after the final writing session, they were given a task designed to assess their global mindset. Four to six weeks after the last writing session, they then completed a questionnaire to determine their physical health.
What the researchers found was positive writing led to a broadened mindset and fewer health complaints. “It may be the case,” they write, “that the process of writing about positive experiences from one’s own life sets up a platform from which to explore all emotions, including negative ones.” Because the health of the participants who did so did improve, the researchers speculate that the benefits weren’t strictly dependent on a more positive mood, they were a result of perspective, as well.